Philosophy as design

If you’re wondering why an interaction designer would spend time on the dusty thoughts of dead philosophers in her (lack of) spare time, then read on.

For me as a designer, philosophy is a kind of disruptive design provocation.  It’s disruptive because it attacks the foundations of our belief systems – exposes the values we never knew were driving us – it breaks the box.

When Foucault exposes the microphysics of power, he lifts the curtain on social media in whole new ways.  When we look at Indigenous philosophies and their focus on stewardship, it becomes shamefully clear how self-centric the Western-driven history of technology has been.

What’s exciting is that these revelations can lead to radically innovative new approaches to design.

What would Aristotle say about Facebook? How would Confucius have designed a social network? How would Kant program a robot? How can we design for diffuse empowerment? What would earth-centered technology look like? I can’t think of more fascinating prompts for intelligent ideation.

I sincerely believe that philosophy, better than anything else, can help us radically rethink our approaches to technology design.  And that’s something we desperately need to do if we’re going to build a future we actually want to inhabit.  That’s why it’s time for all of us who design, build, and use technology, to get down to the metalevel, dig deeper, and start thinking more philosophically.



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