From Uncritical Design to Critical Examinations of its Systemic Consequences

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Professor Dr Klaus Krippendorff

Gregory Bateson Professor for Cybernetics, Language, and Culture at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication

Historically, designers cherished their aesthetic competencies. However, offering them to manufacturers improved the lives of consumers only when serving industrial interests. In our information society, technologies have changed radically, but not their designers’ concerns. Human-centred design, for example, develops interfaces with complex computer networks in their user’s terms, bypassing the need to understanding these technologies.

The enthusiastic embrace of cybernetics was instrumental in automating manufacturing, commerce, communication, and everyday life. However, behind the façade of providing valuable access to users of vast databases, services, and numbers of people, contemporary design unintentionally supported the systematic algorithmisation of large segments of society. We are becoming cyborgs of ultimately oppressive socio-technological regimes.

To regain social relevance, Dr Krippendorff suggests that designers become critical of what their work supports, cognizant of and accountable for the systemic consequences of their designs and move from uncritically embracing innovations to an emancipatory perspective on the systems they enable. He encourages the community of designers to combine large systems conceptions with critical and liberating efforts.

Profile

Klaus Krippendorff researches the role of language and dialogue in the social construction of reality.

Klaus Krippendorff’s research focuses on the role of language and dialogue in the social construction of reality: identities, institutions, cultural artifacts, power, Otherness, and meanings; emancipatory epistemology (hermeneutics) of human communication and the design of technology; content analysis, semantics, pragmatics of social interaction, and related research methods; conversation theory, information theory, and cyberspace; and second-order cybernetics of complex communication systems and their reflexive, self-organizing, and autopoietic properties.

From University of Pennsylvania | klaus.krippendorff@asc.upenn.edu

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Posted Oct-2021

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RSD proceedings are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

Suggested Citation Format

Author(s) (20XX). Article title. In Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSDX) 20XX Symposium. City, Country, Month X-X, 20XX.

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