Issue 22

Cennydd Bowles Calling for a new ethical awakening in technology and design – fuelled by individual and collective action.

Jenny Odell The author and artist on how we can rediscover the true value of time by doing nothing.

Paul Ford Deciphering the code of tech: a writer, programmer, and CEO interprets the power dynamics of today.

Anab Jain ‘The future is old’: the designer and educator explores uncertainties to build future worlds we can experience now.

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  • Cennydd Bowles
  • Jenny Odell
  • Paul Ford
  • Anab Jain

“Design is still submissive to the idea that the solution to the world’s problems is more products, more technology, and more stuff in the world.”

Cennydd Bowles
Ethicist, Designer, Futurist

Design is wrong when it assumes that the solution to the problems it causes is simply more design. Cennydd Bowles is a digital product designer and futurist whose ground-breaking work, including his book Future Ethics, explores how the decisions we make and the actions we take have the potential to build better worlds for ourselves. Implicit in his work is a warning, though: the relentless cycle of more that we’ve become addicted to is a disaster in the making. From his vantage point at the nexus of design, ethics, and future studies, Bowles explains why the time for moral neutrality is over and the time for an ethical awakening is now.

“We always want access to more things and more options more of the time. But then you just end up with this sort of meaningless infinity.”

Jenny Odell
Artist, Author, Educator

Our culture’s narrow definition of productivity often forces us to use up every minute of every day in a mad dash to optimise and monetise ourselves. Through her book, How to Do Nothing, multi-disciplinary artist Jenny Odell wants to change our assumptions about work, time, and value. She encourages us to question a mindset that demands ever more technology – leading us to a state of ‘meaningless infinity’ – and to focus instead upon regaining a sense of agency through a less capitalistic definition of productivity. At a time of overwhelming demand for our attention, Jenny argues that it’s vital that we do miss out sometimes, in order to create for ourselves the necessary space for observation, care, and maintenance.

“Software is a way of understanding not just how machines work but how humans work. You can put together a pretty good map of how power works in the world by looking closely at software.”

Paul Ford
Writer, Programmer, CEO

Back in 2016, Paul Ford used his prodigious talents as a writer to dispel the mysteries of code in his award-winning essay ‘What Is Code?’. Combining his liberal arts background with a passion for tech and a voracious appetite to learn about how our world works, Paul now serves as CEO and co-founder of New York-based digital agency Postlight, as he continues to straddle the line between techno-idealism and techno-realism. From his unique position as commentator, educator, and active participant in 'the business of tech', Paul questions whether the industry's trajectory of ‘progress’ can – or should – continue.

“Designers will need to acknowledge the limits of anthropocentric capitalism and embrace the burden of a world that is increasingly complex and challenging.”

Anab Jain
Designer, Educator, Filmmaker

Anab Jain spends her time peering ahead into possible futures and reporting back about the multitude of risks and opportunities they contain. Through the work of her studio Superflux, Jain and her co-founder Jon Ardern prioritise raising questions over demanding answers. As a filmmaker and educator, and a designer of provocative, tangible experiences, Anab urges us to consider a new vision for design – one that moves beyond our narrow focus on the human experience towards recognising the interdependence of all life on Earth. She forewarns that neither naked fear nor blind hope, but only a deep-seated curiosity about what lies ahead can help us manage the uncertainties of our shared futures.

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Table of contents

Love Technically
Food for thought by Jennifer Hulst.

Innovation by Limitation
Food for thought by Fiona J McEvoy.

Cennydd Bowles on real life ethics, the fallacy of Design Systems, and individual action leading to collective action.

A Day With
Spend a day with Gabriela Garro Abdykerimov.

A Day With
Spend a day with Obembe Opeyemi.

Jenny Odell on a new interpretation of ‘productivity’, what ecology can teach us about the attention economy, and the importance of developing a sense of agency.

Rules of Business
Guiding principles for doing business, by Tom Greenwood.

Paul Ford on the power of code, straddling idealism and realism in the world of tech, and reevaluating the meaning of ‘technology progress’.

Bright Signals
Projects and ideas that help realise tech’s promise, curated by Kai Brach.

Anab Jain on the need for ‘staying with the trouble’, designing for interdependence, and why the future is plural.

Ten Things I’ve Learned
Milly Schmidt and Mig Reyes share ten life lessons from working on the web.

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