06 thesis

rachel chang
3 min readOct 24, 2016

Phrases/scraps from the past few weeks that have led to this:

figure and ground; objects and context

pivot point

refocus into clarity

systems level change

accessibility

increasingly complex world

power and meaning of imagery, identity

to understand why things are

unseen networks/systems, who owns, who creates?

V1:

In an increasingly complex world, our lives are subject to a variety of forces we might not be able to see, but they manifest themselves in very real and very visible ways: collapsed economies halfway across the world, a joke of a presidential candidate, or erratic weather patterns to name a few. These seemingly inevitable events that are symptoms of systems that are difficult to grasp and understand, let alone fix. Unbalanced understanding exacerbates and perpetuates systems, and it becomes easier to ignore these problems rather than engage and tackle them head on. Bringing clarity and understanding to complex systems allows individuals to navigate and react accordingly to their current realities and reclaim agency.

V2:

In an increasingly complex world, our lives are subject to a litany of unseen forces. These forces manifest themselves in very real and very visible ways: collapsing economies, political alienation, and erratic weather patterns to name a few. These are all symptoms of complex systems that can be difficult to grasp and understand, let alone fix.

Information has never been more accessible but the sheer volume is overwhelming. It becomes easier to focus on what is immediately visible. Little thought is given to how individuals fit into larger systems. By giving individuals the ability to view their lives in a different perspective, they are able to better understand their agency and enact changes within systems. Through top-down understanding, bottom-up solutions can be implemented. New perspectives can be experienced through interacting with a designed artifact. To design such an artifact is to craft a narrative and propose a future.

V3:

In an increasingly complex world, our lives are subject to a variety of unseen systems that manifest themselves through very visible symptoms: unchecked capitalism is experienced through foreclosed neighborhoods, increasingly complicated global geopolitics result in political alienation during local elections, global warming is visualized through empty grocery store shelves before a major storm. While it is easy to recognize symptoms as problems to be fixed, it is more difficult to understand how these symptoms relate to different systems and how they interact.

As such, it is easier to focus on what is immediately visible, and little thought is given to how individuals and their actions fit into these larger systems. Individuals already engage with systems on a daily basis. Paying for that morning cup of coffee is an interaction with global trade economies, climate change, and evolving biological systems. That interaction was intentionally designed (or not designed) and reveals certain connections, ideologies, and realities.

Designers have the ability to directly affect individuals to reflect, pivot, and change their world view, values, and actions. Designers can encourage participants to view their lives differently. When designed with agency in mind, an artifact, service, experience, or any sort of designed interaction should allow individuals to see where they sit in a system and feel empowered to change wicked problems. To design is to craft new narratives and propose preferable futures.

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