Benedict Singleton on Platform Design

Platforms have their own logic: they work best when they don’t address a specific problem or respond to a predefined ‘need’ or ‘desire’, but instead solicit appropriation in unexpected ways, and find their reason for being through ongoing use. As we will see, this can create scenarios that seem strange when we’re used to thinking in terms of products or services: the platform is like a cross between an object that doesn’t have a defined point, and a plan that relies on the unforeseen in order to work. In this apparent paradox, however, we find a surprisingly consistent, and consistently surprising, way to rethink some of the basic parameters of design.