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Lessons from history for technology designers

Longtime Foresight friend Robert Grudin has a new book Design and Truth, just reviewed by the New York Times.  The review quotes Grudin on designers:

“However grand their aspirations, they wait upon the will of people in power,” he writes. “And power, which can ratify the truth of good design, can, conversely, debase design into a fabric of lies.”

The moral of Mr. Grudin’s book is that designers should be true to themselves, as Rikyu was, and never compromise. “Good design enables honest and effective engagement with the world,” as he puts it. “Poor design is symptomatic either of inadequate insight or of a fraudulent and exploitative strategy of production. If good design tells the truth, poor design tells a lie, a lie usually related, in one way or another, to the getting or abuse of power.”

Designers of nanotech, AI, and other powerful technologies will need to think hard about what to design, and for whom.  Grudin’s book may help them make better decisions.  Published by Yale University Press, only $17 on Amazon.  See also Grudin’s Time and the Art of Living, and The Grace of Great Things: Creativity and Innovation.  —Chris Peterson

5 Responses to “Lessons from history for technology designers”

  1. Designers unite to salute Aussie fashion | hardsharp Says:

    [...] the Foresight Institute » Lessons from history for technology designers [...]

  2. Instapundit » Blog Archive » LESSONS FROM HISTORY for technology designers…. Says:

    [...] LESSONS FROM HISTORY for technology designers. [...]

  3. M. Report Says:

    A Royal Advisor said:
    I am careful to tell the King what he should do,
    not what he could do.

    It would be helpful if the People were made aware of
    how willing the Powerful are to postpone the future until they have squeezed the last dime out of the present.

  4. Astro Says:

    The quotes provided above seemed like a lot of words that said nothing. My impression was that, based on these quotes, this book is DOA for anyone like me who is a design engineer. I then clicked on the link above that goes to Amazon. The Publisher’s Weekly review there is not kind and confirmed my suspicions.
    A book written by a lit prof with barely the vaguest idea of what engineers do.

  5. M. Simon Says:

    It would be helpful if the People were made aware of
    how willing the Powerful are to postpone the future until they have squeezed the last dime out of the present.

    If you ever had to pay for the cost of production tools you would know why.

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