Old Rope: Laing’s Knots and Bateson’s Double Binds in Systemic Design

Dan Lockton

Imaginaries Lab, School of Design, Carnegie Mellon University

Abstract Knots, a 1970 book by the Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing, is based around a collection of patterns of human thinking, metacognition, and theory of mind, drawn from real experience with patients but turned into abstracted examples. The approach has the potential to be adapted into a range of formats that enable systemic design phenomena such as recursion, reflexivity, theory of mind, and second-order effects in systems to be explored, as a way of thinking about systems for design students and adding to their conceptual vocabulary, but potentially also as a method for doing research with people. This paper illustrates example ‘new knots’ around topics including sharing data, social media, clickbait, and ‘smart’ homes.

Posted Oct-2018

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