This is the final paper for my reflections on Design for the Century, in my first semester at Parsons School of Design. Below is the TLDR summary and following that is the final paper published from Google Drive.
We know what technology is. In Marshall McLuhan’s theory, all technologies are extensions of our physical and nervous systems. Looking at the individual level, and taking the example of the phone – we first had large phones that needed two hands to operate, and then one hand with chords, and then the mobile phone and today we can even operate them without any hands, just with our voices. At the community level – Take the jeans trouser or slacks. Do you feel that ladies pockets are far smaller than men’s? Are their functionalities limited? Is it because the market that makes them, so that ladies would look to handbags, clutches to supplement and complement the ‘pockets’ on their trousers or slacks. The effect of percolation of one small design decision can have mammoth consequences and subsequent effects – that it can even fuel an industry or a business. Example on the global scale: Bank of America, JPMorgan is testing blockchain technology as a replacement for paper-based and manual transaction processing.
New technology brings with itself a very powerful factor and that is a new perspective. How are these interactions affecting us humans and what’s at stake? Smartphones Ruin More Than Your Sleep – They May Also Be Destroying Your Vision. “Smartphone thumb” syndrome can cause eventual arthritis. Is Social Media Shortening Our Attention Span? With AR and VR Would there be a time, when we would be satisfied on seeing all the wild animals in the comfort of our homes, than stepping into the zoo and enjoying and their natural beings?
Technology seems to be leading humanity by the nose. – Stafford Beer
and that’s the meta-narrative here. In my view, solutions are not created but found. We just need to look in the right direction – what I call diversity of perspective. Remember the Walkman, Panorama, iPod, Fitbits, Pokemon Go were not necessarily brand new inventions but a new way of looking at the same technology. Let’s try turning the problem right on its head.
While these large technology companies ‘invent’ solutions for us, are they actually the best solutions? Steve Jobs once famously said, “…people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” That is exactly what we need to worry about – knowing what we want, choosing what should percolate and be monitoring them. “We are not setting the price. The market is setting the price. We have algorithms to determine what that market is. ” – Uber CEO. Who makes these algorithms and definitions?
There’s always an agenda behind a definition – Mattie Brice
We need agencies like the Government or private recognized firms to monitor these “innovation” hubs. Why do we have an entire system that supervises the food industry, climate change, sustainability?
We need to think about how we think, if we need to think differently. – Melanie Crean
Governments and similar agencies must hire critical designers as part of bureaucracy to help check flow of thought, vision of cities and to look from a non-human perspective too, to benefit human beings in the near future. The era of human-centered design is coming to an end. That’s because the next user you design for won’t be human at all. It will be a human-machine hybrid built to do more than any person or computer could accomplish alone.