passaggi digitali

Before lecturing a new course in the field of Design I ask my new students to bring into class a ‘design object’ that they like. So, on our very first lecture they bring some advertisements, packaging, logos, printed screenshots of websites etc. My reason for doing this is that I need to understand how my students value Design objects.

Later on in our class they generally explain me that the ‘object’ of their choice is aesthetically pleasing and communicates an important brand in an effective way. However, when I ask them to better understand their motivations for choosing that specific ‘object’ from the millions that are available, it turns out that their ‘object’ made them feel in a certain way at a certain point, changed a paradigm, promoted a social revolution, etc. Promptly different types of value, other than the aesthetic and economic value, emerge to the surface and we collectively start mapping them on a diagram.

At this point I ask them to think about the different ‘audiences’ that benefited from those ‘objects’ and to place the identified audiences close to the type of value created by their ‘object’.

While our collective diagram is expanding they realise that Design permeates society and can benefit brands but also individuals, societies, institutions, governments, countries, etc.

This simple exercise serves as a springboard for our work during the course. The challenge becomes to design ‘objects’ that create different types of value for as many stakeholders as possible. Including the designer himself.

Is it a School or a Prison? I came across this pamphlet on a street in Vienna and was initially surprised by the comparison. It is  another argument for making school life more engaging.

The open data movement is one of the initiatives that promotes a change in our relationship with the society we live in. As citizens we are not just at the receiving end of the law, but can intervene and pursue change. Each one of us has an opportunity to participate in shaping society, but as designers and scientists we can coordinate our efforts towards higher goals — CHANGING SOCIETY!

As utopian as it sounds, change comes in small increments and the first steps are to prompt official institutions to think differently! Herbert Simon‘s statement that current social planning is myopic is still true.

We leave you for now with this beautiful quote from The Sciences of the Artificial:

…accept complexity and view each systemic iteration as just a little step towards the endless frontier

Imagine a world where politicians, public administration, industry and private citizens are
engaged in a true dialog, where decisions about education, health system, or pensions are taken
transparently and YOU have access to the data that policies are based on.

Surprisingly, this isn’t completely removed from today’s reality, if we consider the Open Government Partnership. This alliance that involves 57 countries at this point in time, promotes free access to information (e.g data or content) and the ability to re-use it and share it. This political movement is fueling another worldwide related movement focused on sharing information: the Open Government Data (OGD)

A short film about #opendata from the Open Knowledge Foundation. For more information, please see: