Select Page


From Uncritical Design to Critical Examinations of its Systemic Consequences

Format: Keynotes & Talks, RSD10, RSD10 Programme, Topic: Sociotechnical Systems

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.


Klaus Krippendorff researched 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 artefacts, power, Otherness, and meanings; emancipatory epistemology (hermeneutics) of human communication and the design of technology; content analysis, semantics, the 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 |

To view the sketchnote details, click the black arrow on the right. You can zoom in from the view on the new image and explore the whole image. You can also download the full-size image from the new tab.

@simplesketchthinking | Alazne Echaniz




Citation Data

Author(s): Klaus Krippendorff
Title: From Uncritical Design to Critical Examinations of its Systemic Consequences
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 10 October 2021
Last update:
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404