“We have a responsibility to the world that we live in; this is not a choice, this is the job. Design works in the service of a better world, always has, always should. Design is by definition problem-solving, and the world is so blessedly full with problems right now that we’re going to have work for a very long time. So ask yourself, are the problems we’re taking on worth solving? Do we need 36 more iPhone docks? Do we need 59 more iPad cases? What about 179 camera apps?…Our infrastructure is rotting. The world economy is crap. Major media outlets are flushing entire investigative journalism departments down the drain, Wall Street is awash with criminals, billions of people can’t get basic medical care, food and water and we are building apps to rate our sandwiches, to tell each other where we are, who we’re with and when we’ve gone to bed. We’re wasting our time designing digital farms for our phone. We need real farms in our inner cities. We need access to fresh water. Too much of our knowledge is available only to a few…we use to design ways to go to the moon, now we design ways to never have to get out of bed! We have more processing power, affordable tools and combined intelligence this very minute than in any point in the history of design and we are using it to build shit. It’s time to aim higher. Too many smart people are deciding on what problems to tackle—what problems to put their energy into—not based on whether those products solve worthy problems or improve someones life, but rather on whether they can be funded and flipped. If we only tackle the issues that Facebook, Twitter and Google are interested in acquiring, then when will we tackle those they aren’t?…It’s time to stop hoping that other people will solve important problems, or hoping that people will let us solve it for them, but start solving them ourselves. Recognize the power that we have to change things, recognize the power that we have to make things happen, and also recognize that with that power comes the responsibility to do it right and to do the right thing. And remember—every single time that you, as a designer, make it easier and more pleasant for anyone to find and use information and tools that help people live their lives, you have contributed something important to the world. 


2 thoughts on “

  1. such an interesting talk. I hadn't thought about it this way before, but the truth is designers make very impactful decisions even when business decisions have dictated the goal. he says it explicitly, they are gatekeepers. without a designer there is not really a gate, even. the crazy thing is how it applies to design of all kinds. if you contribute to design of the product, you can question the product on an ethical level, because the design is the product.

    I think his points are also good for coders to keep in mind, maybe even anyone who is invested in the quality of their work.

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