45 min. talk
This talk will explore some of the worrisome aspects of connected device ecosystems and how designers and information architects, with their expertise in ecological thought, are poised to shape the emergence of “connection”, not just react to it.
The word “connection” tends to evoke feelings of warmth, friendship, intimacy and physical/emotional closeness. It is no wonder that startups and large corporations alike have invested in a theme of connectedness in consumer products, reaching for the ever-present goal of extracting value from an emotional connection to inanimate things. Promises for deeper connection among humans via things, the automation of banality, increased leisure time and “seamless” service are pervasive in the rhetoric of connected utopias.
On the other hand, dystopian visions of a post-connected world have been proliferating in critical discourses around the surveillance society, data politics, design ethics, etc. In these early days of counter-discussion against the corporate sales pitch of connected products, much critique tends to focus on the practical outcomes of early products: the “smart” refrigerator that tweets about your unhealthy late-night snack, nefarious companies selling your data to marketers, monopolies locking consumers in to their platforms, etc. Missing from designer conversations is the ethical dimension of how designers create futures, as opposed to simply reacting to what seems inevitable.
When technological trends are viewed as inexorable, designers tend to define their role as a mediator as opposed to an originator, placing them in a passive position to futures handed down from elsewhere. This is a problem. This presentation will explore some of the worrisome aspects of connected device ecosystems and how designers and information architects, with their expertise in ecological thought, are poised to shape the emergence of “connection”, not just react to it. It will include summaries of themes in connected products, in-market and speculative examples, and suggestions for ethical and sustainable design practice. The focus will not be on how to design connected ecosystems, but rather why to design them, if at all.
Thomas Wendt is an independent design strategist, educator, speaker, and author based in New York City. On an average day, you can find him facilitating a design workshop for a client or writing in one of NYC’s many cafes. Thomas’s book, Design for Dasein, deals with the relationship between experience design and practical philosophy. He also delivers presentations, articles and essays on design theory for international conferences, academic journals and practitioner publications. Thomas enjoys escaping to a remote cabin in the woods whenever possible, single malt Scotch and ashtanga yoga.
EuroIA is the leading Information Architecture (IA) and User Experience (UX) conference for Europe.
EuroIA has travelled through Europe over the years: Brussels, Barcelona, Rome, Berlin, Paris, Prague... In 2016 we return to Amsterdam. Learn more about EuroIA.
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EuroIA returns to Amsterdam, the city that in 2008 hosted probably the most successful and definitely the most well-attended of all EuroIA conferences.
EuroIA 2016 takes place at The Renaissance Hotel, in the heart of Amsterdam, within walking distance of the Amsterdam central train station and Amsterdam's main highlights.
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