Engaging with the politics of design
Last updated: Mar 1, 2023
Design is normative. When we try to make something invisible, we always also make choices about who this is for – and who not. So the question is of course: What now? I think a good and important first step is to learn more about the problematic sides of our field and to engage with the politics of design. These are some of the resources that have helped me get started:
If you can take some academic jargon, I highly recommend reading some of the work that scholars in critical media studies have done.
- Selfe, C. L. & Selfe, R. J. (1994) The politics of the interface: Power and its exercise in electronic contact zones. College Composition and Communication, 45(4), 480–504.
- Wysocky, A. & Jasken, J. (2004) What should be an unforgettable face… Computers and Composition, 21, 29–48.
- Kendrick, M. (2005). Invisibility, race, and the interface. Rhetoric review, 24(4), 395–399.
- Sweeney, M. E. (2016). The intersectional interface. In S. U. Noble & B. M. Tynes (Eds.), The intersectional internet: Race, sex, class, and culture online (pp. 215–228). Peter Lang.
Some of these books are written by scholars, others by practitioners. The scholarly books are still relatively accessible.
- Race after technology: Abolitionist tools for the new Jim code by Ruha Benjamin.
- Technically wrong: Sexist apps, biased algorithms, and other threats of toxic tech by Sara Wachter-Boettcher.
- Algorithms of oppression: How search engines reinforce racism by Safiya Umoja Noble.
If you have other ideas or resources, please get in touch (lara.portmann[at]discourse.ch)!