Architectures of control as ‘anti-social design’

Blog, Design with Intent, Philosophy of control, User Psychology

Backspace’s Social Design Notes looks at examples of ‘social design’, which Backspace’s John Emerson characterises as being projects that (among other criteria):

# facillitate mobility, communication, and participation in civic life
# decentralize political power and facilitate transparency and accountability.

John asks:

“Can design change the world?
I don’t pretend that social and political problems can be solved with graphics or technology, but tools, technologies, and techniques of communication can profoundly alter our relationship to the world, to power, and to each other.”

In a sense, then, many architectures of control really are ‘anti-social’ design, in the sense that they embed political or commercial power rather than decentralising it; they certainly alter our relationship to the world, by removing power from our hands.