Lumar- Reading-Response #08: Two Readings about Things

“1. The Critical Engineer considers any technology depended upon to be both a challenge and a threat. The greater the dependence on a technology the greater the need to study and expose its inner workings, regardless of ownership or legal provision.”

“5. The Critical Engineer recognises that each work of engineering engineers its user, proportional to that user’s dependency upon it.”

I am looking forward to the design lecture tomorrow. I am both excited and incredibly wary of the booming rise of the internet of things. I can imagine it can very easily be another subject that would go perfectly as an expansion of the documentary “death by Design”. The documentary “Death by Design” explores the question –

“What is the cost of our digital dependency?”

It uncovers a global story of damaged lives, environmental destruction, and devices that are designed to die.

With the engineering principles, I find #1 something that’s emphasized in my design studios. When designers include ‘fancy’ futuristic tech as solutions in their concept pitches, the biggest warning is always that the designer has to be able to consider carefully how to make the technology work for people, finding the gaps within the system that the tech could fulfill rather than making gaps to the existing system to necessitate a convoluted solution. I like to liken the use of technology that one doesn’t fully understand as a design solution problem to the federal government pouring money into a flopping program; it doesn’t really help. Well….I mean, it does. Money will inherently make the wheels spin faster, but the amount of money certainly isn’t proportional to the net benefit. The money simply isn’t being used effectively. Technology, if not understood well, is much the same.

For number 5, I agree! Tools shape you, you shape tools!

“tools

shape

you

shape

tools”

That’s a quote directly from Graphic #37, a graphic design magazine that introduces computation as a medium for graphic design.

An analog example of this sentiment would be in the evolution of symbols. When a designer first makes a symbol for an object, it tends to be more literal and representative. But as the public gets used to this association, the next generation of designers would redesign the symbol to be a simplified version of the previous. If this second symbol was used at the very beginning, it might not be nearly as effective. (think of the symbols for phone)