The difficulty with a human-centered approach to design is that it often fails to look beyond the immediate user, toward the ‘‘other’’ that might be affected by a design — not only other humans, but other-than-humans: ecologies, bacteria, air, soil, artificial intelligences, etc. Human-centered design, applied to gain an economic advantage, all too often seeks easy solutions that satisfy users within unsustainable systems in a world of finite resources. Design, in its servicing role within these systems, becomes part of the problem. To address these challenges, a new design paradigm is needed.
Freire focuses on developing critical thought together with action, in a cycle he refers to as praxis, a Greek term originally referring to “practical knowledge for action.” Freire defines it as “reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it.” In other words, for Freire and for popular educators inspired by his work, the goal of education is to transform oppressed individuals into subjects who engage in collective action to transform their conditions of oppression. In Brazil and across Latin America, popular educators, many using Freirian methods of critical pedagogy and praxis, taught millions of rural peasants and urban poor people how to read and write while working together to develop a collective analysis of political oppression and to organize powerful social movements that helped end military dictatorships across the region.
Emergent Strategy has a lot to do with decentralization, but when you start to be recognized for your work there's an automatic centralization that happens. Some of that is fun. I can see how it can be used to move the work. But it's also really important to me that readers understand that emergent strategy is being done by many people. If I'm not replaceable, then I haven't done my job well. If other people can't come in and do the work, then I haven't learned how to teach, to offer, and to hand myself over.
What does an archive built by a poet look like? How are the demands of an archive—an institution that is traditionally meant to freeze time, to stop motion—reconciled with and deployed to serve a politics invested in forward movement, further struggle?
The deep sense of solidarity and collaborative nature of worker cooperatives creates conditions for a bold and active vanguard of working people able to generate demands for automation and redistribution. Traditional unions are still critical, but we also need to think more expansively about organizing in the age of automation. Many of the companies that are growing exponentially in the digital age are well suited to these kinds of structures. Companies that rely on the sharing economy offer a glimpse of how the future might look, but not for the reasons that their CEOs like to think.
The gig economy has often used digital technology to scale up specific social values, including the value of self-directed work, the efficient use of limited resources via sharing, the importance of trust and an interest in building a community. If we imagine the possibility of re-socializing these models of work, through giving control back to workers, we glimpse a promising vision of the future of work.
As our relationship to the physical environment becomes less spatial, our immersion in the digital becomes more complete and software must carry an ever-heavier load. The dissonance between rapidly evolving tools and our slow-adapting brains induces vertigo (or at least Zoom fatigue). One emergent response to this dissonance is to reintroduce spatial qualities to the digital environment, to better match our cognitive hardwiring.
teachers can become aware of, and challenge, our own positions in the classroom and our own tendencies to reproduce relationships of domination.
Overall, most hacklabs, makerspaces, and fablabs fail to disrupt the matrix of domination. Some of the key organizers of these sites feel that providing people with digital tools is enough. A few actively resist the idea that these spaces should be part of specific social movements or that they should have an explicitly political program. Instead, they emphasize individual autonomy and the “empowerment” that comes from individuals developing their own ability to hack and make things.
“Currently technology is being developed, controlled, and owned by the ruling class and used in their interests to maintain a brutal system of superexploitation and oppression. We want a shift in the underlying logic of how technology is created and used. Instead of being used as a tool to divide and conquer, we believe technology must be taken back by the people and used as a tool of liberation.”
Grassroots Innovation Movements31 (mentioned in chapter 3) describes six case studies: the UK movement for socially useful production, the South American appropriate technology movement, the Indian People’s Science Movement (PSM), hackerspaces, fablabs, and makerspaces around the world, the Brazilian Social Technology Network, and the Indian Honey Bee Network. The authors contextualize hackerspaces, fablabs, and makerspaces within “a tradition of thought in modern environmentalism and development concerning accessible tools for local, sustainable developments … that includes the social ecology of Murray Bookchin, Stewart Brand and the Whole Earth project, E. F. Schumacher’s appropriate technology, Ivan Illich’s convivial tools, alternative technologists such as Peter Harper and Godfrey Boyle, and ideas by Mike Cooley and others concerning socially useful production.”32 However, much of this history is erased by popular narratives of design and sociotechnical innovation.
support learning through design experiences, help youth build upon their own interests, cultivate “emergent community,” and create an environment of respect and trust.