IndieWeb Book Club: Ruined By Design (BoffoSocko)
I’ve been wanting to read Mike Monteiro’s Ruined By Design, so I’m happy that @chrisaldrich suggested this book for an IndieWeb Book Club.
My first impression (based on the publisher’s blurb and Chris’s description) is that Monteiro’s book shares a lot of concerns with my research, namely how we can design systems that reflect our values. The blurb lists examples of designs working as intended, and in the process making the world worse:
The combustion engine which is destroying our planet’s atmosphere and rapidly making it inhospitable is working exactly as we designed it. Guns, which lead to so much death, work exactly as they’re designed to work. And every time we “improve” their design, they get better at killing. Facebook’s privacy settings, which have outed gay teens to their conservative parents, are working exactly as designed. Their “real names” initiative, which makes it easier for stalkers to re-find their victims, is working exactly as designed. Twitter’s toxicity and lack of civil discourse is working exactly as it’s designed to work.
The world is working exactly as designed. And it’s not working very well. Which means we need to do a better job of designing it. Design is a craft with an amazing amount of power. The power to choose. The power to influence. As designers, we need to see ourselves as gatekeepers of what we are bringing into the world, and what we choose not to bring into the world. Design is a craft with responsibility. The responsibility to help create a better world for all.
I strongly agree with the claims of responsibility made in this passage. When we make things, we are responsible for carefully considering their potential consequences. And if we make things with negative effects we failed to foresee, we should respond to those effects with diligence and purpose.
I feel some apprehension about how this book might present designers’ “amazing amount of power.” I think designers work within a profound network of constraints, and I’m curious how this will be addressed. That said, I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve read the book, and I’m looking forward to seeing what others have to say.