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Scratching the Surface #72: Shannon Mattern

I used to kind of deify these peo­ple, pre­sum­ing that they were pre­sent­ing some gospel that I just had to work and work and work to try to under­stand so that I could like, put on their glass­es and see the world through their lens­es. But ulti­mate­ly I real­ized that these are—and I’ve writ­ten this else­where, too—like, these are fal­li­ble peo­ple, often ego­ma­ni­acs, often real­ly bad writ­ers. And that’s why I can’t under­stand it. So it’s not to give up on them too quick­ly. If you put in the work to try to under­stand what they’re say­ing. But not to regard their work as gospel.

Computer, Stop
Why Star Trek only goes so far and we need to try harder than science fiction

Star Trek’s vision of a voice inter­face to com­put­ing was and remains incred­i­bly com­pelling. So much to the extent that about three years ago, Amazon includ­ed Computer” as a wake word to the Echo so that we can pre­tend to talk to the first mass-market voice assis­tant as if we’re on a space­ship in the 24th cen­tu­ry.

Austerity as a Service
Human-Centered Design for Climate Mitigation and Resilience

As a human-centered design­er what is my role, what is our role, in this kind of big­ger pic­ture? If this is the dom­i­nant lens of soci­ety, what’s our con­tri­bu­tion?

In Praise of Discomfort

For an expe­ri­ence to be mem­o­rable let alone trans­for­ma­tive, the human brain has to be pushed out of default auto-pilot mode into con­scious thought. And that push nec­es­sar­i­ly involves some lev­el of dis­com­fort.

Beyond Biocentricity in Design & Pedagogy

Today, we will exam­ine the his­tor­i­cal and philo­soph­i­cal roots of bio­cen­trism, bio­mimicry, explore the qual­i­ty of the rela­tion­ship it pre­sup­pos­es with nature, and ques­tion its ecofriend­li­ness. We will intro­duce emerg­ing alter­na­tives to bio­mimicry and dis­cuss the chal­lenges it promis­es.

Design Justice for the Green New Deal

What I want to share is one way of think­ing about how we’re going to design and build the tech­nolo­gies and the sociotech­ni­cal sys­tems that we need for a Green New Deal, if such a thing is what we do want to build. And what that could look like through the lens of this com­mu­ni­ty of prac­ti­tion­ers that I’m part of, which is the Design Justice Network.

Labor, Architecture and the Green New Deal

The main thing that we need to be doing is work­ing as a dis­ci­pline, as a pro­fes­sion, as a uni­fied voice, so that we sit at the table of pol­i­cy­mak­ing and are believed as not just ambulance-chasers for work for our­selves but as peo­ple with knowl­edge and what­ev­er embed­ded­ness in the com­mu­ni­ty, and our design exper­tise with­in the com­mu­ni­ty is absolute­ly essen­tial.

Design and the Green New Deal

I think that Damian asked me here in large part to talk about this essay from last spring in Places Journal that begins pret­ty timid­ly with this line, I don’t know when the myth of design­ers as cli­mate sav­iors began, but I know that it’s time to kill it. Which as you can imag­ine got me invit­ed to lots of din­ner par­ties at Harvard.

Empathy Reifies Disability Stigmas

I think we need to start think­ing crit­i­cal­ly about things that we per­ceive as whole­some. Empathy has become a big busi­ness, and we ought to be able to exam­ine it. Everyone’s always try­ing to diag­nose dis­abled peo­ple. But I’m gonna have a lit­tle bit of fun. And I’m actu­al­ly gonna diag­nose all of you.

Designing for Data Literacy in the Age of Post-Truth

We should use our tool­box to make com­plex­i­ty under­stand­able. We need to use the tools at our dis­pos­al to build data lit­er­a­cy by show­ing the con­text that data exists in. Because with that data, and with con­text around the data, we’ll be able to build under­stand­ing…

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