Week 34 - 1 October 2021

  • The past week has felt like a month in so many ways. Picture me with eyes sagging, fingers dropping heavy on these k e y s . . .
  • For our first brief we're looking at two of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals - on zero hunger and reducing inequality - and reframing them through one of five critical lenses (our group is using happiness). I've attached the brief below.
  • Of course, it feels like it's only half about the brief. Each group of 4 or 5 has participants from across time zones, with different backgrounds, understandings of design, native languages etc. So we're all figuring out how to work together whilst working together. That's the bit that feels exciting to me.
  • As an aside, through us working together it's struck me that technology feels suddenly ready to support this kind of cross-boundary work. We've got live captions in multiple languages as we're all speaking, making sure everyone can contribute to the discussion, whilst we all glide slip sliding around a shared digital white board. I can't imagine that even 5 years ago.
  • So far as a group we've done a deep dive into our critical lens - happiness. Some of this research has been compounded by a visit to the Wellcome Collection's exhibition on Happiness, where we were lucky to get a tour from the curators. I was interested to learn the root of the word - from the Old Norse Happ meaning 'luck' or 'chance'. This reveals that how we used to think of happiness - as something that happens to you by chance - is very different from the thing we think of today - something to pursue or a human right.
  • All that is really to say that the idea of happiness is not static, and that perhaps we could update it to be more useful today. We were interested to discover that the UN measures happiness in an individualistic way - by asking participants to rate their own lives on a scale of 1 to 10. We're thinking about what a more collective, co-dependant way of thinking about happiness could look like. Perhaps even expanding that to be inter-species.
  • I've been thinking about the place and value of authorship in relation to this kind of design. So much of my design education before this point was about authorship and the virtues of having a unique voice or approach. It seems like the closer design gets to social / service / systems the more that kind of melts away or is frowned upon. Design practice at this end of the scale (a scale that is a bit forced, admittedly...) seems less more to rely on a rather homogenous set of tools or practices. I'm still trying to figure out where I sit amongst all that. We know that there can be no such thing as a neutral researcher or designer - everyone has life experiences that frame the work they do - and perhaps we should lean into that more.

MA GCDP - Week 2 resources

Last update: 2021-10-01 12:00:00 -0600