Tuesday, May 21, 2013

CCDN 271: Assignment Four: Plan Your Attack!

While Critical Design does have the potential to create grass root suggestions for improvement to the product market; it lacks the corporate weight to throw around to generate Massive Critical Change. For Massive Critical Change to occur in the field of economic and technological development, it must be generated and carried out by those in power and control of the market, or alternatively driven by consumer demand.

-Paragraph 1- What is Critical Design & what is it trying to achieve?
Critical Design is not a specific concept of how to generate change. Critical Design is much more of a stance. Critical Designers are attempting to disturb the waters of the everyday. That is their niche. They want to engage society with challenging issues from the ground up. They seek to challenge the very nature of what design is, as well as what its service to society should be.
Critical Designers define their own work as something that “uses speculative design proposals to challenge narrow assumptions, preconceptions and givens about the role products play in everyday life.” (Dunne & Raby, 2013)
Refer heavily to Dunne & Raby as well as Bowen.
Critical Design is a diverse stance that, overall, suggests there is a state that needs to be changed. This relates back to the fact that Critical Design serves as a group that has a stance that, while perceived as critical and un-sellable, still serves a purpose for the development of the greater status quo.

-Paragraph 2- What problems does Critical Design face?
Due to the very nature of Critical Design, it is unpopular. Therefore, as a result, the artefacts that are created cannot be sold like normal affirmative design products. Debates relating to critical design often rarely leave the elitist and relatively rarefied art galleries and institutions they are displayed in. (Yauner, 2009)
Refer to Yauner, as well as Dunne & Raby.
Critical Designs rejection of current ideologies as the only ideologies means that the ideologies currently socially “in” are ignored, and the product will not sell. As a result, Critical Design itself cannot lead the charge in an instance of Massive Critical Change. It only lays the spark that has the potential to start a flame.

-Paragraph 3- Massive Critical Change’s modern beginnings
The press release of the Sony “Walkman” was at first received with small amounts of criticism, but once physically released, it sparked a worldwide revolution in consumer electronics. However, while at the time the Walkman represented a critical change to the industry and would be considered Massive Critical Change, it was not designed by a critical designer. Yes, it was changing the status quo, but the change was instigated by a popular, valuable, and affirmatively designing corporation. Critical Designers rarely have the corporate weight to throw around to generate Massive Critical Change, as this sort of power rests with the large companies.
Refer heavily to Mau, Yauner, as well as Barab.
The release of a game-changing affirmative product often causes Massive Critical Change nowadays, and usually carries far more weight in the market than a critical design, where the audience can often be limited.

-Paragraph 4- Tough decisions with big repercussions
Massive Critical Change however still very much has the potential to be sparked by critical designers. This is especially true in the field of environmental and social concerns, where there is almost always a large amount of consistent activism taking place. Changes suggested by Critical Design and carried out by affirmative corporations can have massive impact on the market, as well as global corporate policies.
Refer to Mau, Dunne & Raby, and Barab.
A small change in policy for a large corporation can result in a massive change for the industry as a whole, especially when it comes to controversial issues and unpopular decisions.

-Paragraph 5- What happens when commonplace ideologies are challenged?
The design industries themselves are being forced to change. The biggest upheaval in recent years has been the rise of 3D printing. Designers have had to relinquish the task of designing products for the consumer, as the consumer is beginning to demand more creative control over their products.
Refer to Coughlan, Klaasen & Neicu and Linn.
These changes themselves show the beginnings of Massive Critical Changes to the industry. Critical thinking is about challenging long-standing ideologies, and these changes are definitely challenging long-standing ideologies. The industry has to re-think what they can sell to people, as well as how they can provide services to their customers.

-Paragraph 6- What impact can the consumer have?
The way the design industry is changing is due to a changing method of design. Consumers are demanding control and creating things previously limited to the industry, and as a result, even the most fundamental laws of our societies are beginning to lose relevancy. The area we are heading into is largely unexplored. Companies are attempting to make headway in these areas before the consumers expect it to be the norm.
Refer to Klaasen & Neicu and Brown.
The biggest instance of Massive Critical Change to date may occur when “design is taken out of the hands of designers and put into the hands of everyone.” (Brown, 2009)

-Paragraph 7- Where does Critical Design sit currently?
If the world is so controlled by the consumers and corporations, then where does Critical Design actually fit? Critical Design has very much carved out its own niche, where it serves as a suggestive force. Critical Design isn’t incapable of generating change, but it initiates that change at a grassroots level, challenging the ideologies of the corporations and society, so as to raise awareness.
Refer to Dunne & Raby, Fabrica, as well as Linn.
At its core, Critical Design is a form of activism that, depending on the designer, can have a variety of targets and goals.

Massive Critical Change is not something that just springs out of nothing. Due to the nature of Critical Design and how it tends to operate, it can suffer from some serious pitfalls, but at the same time, it has the potential to have tangible influence on the generation of Massive Critical Change. It can be the spark that can start the fire.
However, that said, there is no fire without wind, and that wind is the companies and corporations with the money and power to influence the product market on a global scale. The socio-political weight they bring to the market allow the decisions they make to be well respected and often followed. Leading by example in the marketplace is one of the most powerful tools to bring about Massive Critical Change.
There is also one final option. The flame is picked up by the people. The flame is nurtured and spread through the public, gaining momentum through popularity. People have the power to make change happen, but only if the change is popular enough.
Massive Critical Change is no random event. Regardless of the initiation, the effect on the world can be truly massive.

Barab, S. A., Thomas, M. K., Dodge, T., Squire, K., Newell, M. (2004). Critical Design Ethnography: Designing for Change. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 35(2), 254-268. doi: 10.1525/aeq.2004.35.2.254
BOWEN, S. J. (2007). Crazy ideas or creative probes?: presenting critical artefacts to stakeholders to develop innovative product ideas. In: Proceedings of EAD07: Dancing with Disorder: Design, Discourse and Disaster, Izmir, Turkey, 11-13 April 2007
Brown, T. (2009, July). Tim Brown Urges Designers To Think Big [Video File]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/tim_brown_urges_designers_to_think_big.html
Coughlan, P. (2010). How Might Design Catalyse Massive (Positive) Change? The Journal of Corporate Citizenship, (37), 34-36. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/497142247?accountid=14782
Fabrica. (2013). About Fabrica. Retrieved May 17, 2013, from http://www.fabrica.it/about
Klaassen, R., & Neicu, M. (2011). CTRL–Alt–Design. In Proceedings of the Design History Society Annual Conference Design Activism and Social Change.
Linn, R. & Hayman, J. (n.d.). Can Businesses Actually Make The World Better While Making Money?. Co.Exist. Retrieved from http://www.fastcoexist.com/
Mau, B. & Institute without Boundaries. (2004). Massive Change. London, U.K.: Phaidon Press.
Melles, G. & Feast, L. (2013). Design Thinking and Critical Approaches: The Pragmatist Compromise.

Yauner, F. (2009). Can Critical Design Create a Debate, if it just keeps Talking to Itself?. Retrieved from http://www.northumbria.ac.uk/

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