Social irresponsibility: thinking the unthinkable

From the recent backlash of Libeskinds’ claim to boycott working in China, to the call for a ‘Code of Ethics’ from Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, the politics of the global built environment is undergoing perpetual debate. Some argue that ‘starchitects’ only have short-term political agendas in search for publicity stunts. Others claim that all designers and architects should be allowed to choose by themselves what they believe to be moral without the pressure of social responsibility.

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Does design make good policy?

It’s welcome news that a new government-backed design lab, to be launched this month, will aim to influence how government services are run. Yet it’s also cause for concern. There can be no doubt that designers make a positive impact on many people’s lives — especially when they help people access online government services more easily. The latest report on the success of the newly designed umbrella Gov.uk confirms this. There’s...

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Anglo-Israel Colloquium on “Ethics and Responsibility in an Interconnected World”

Colloquium themes: THEME A:  The Social Media in Open and Closed Societies. The impact of social media on governments, communities, education,  protest movements, etc.,  in the UK and Israel – and in controlled societies such as in the Middle East, the former Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Myanmar, et al; Does this impact tend to revolutionise politics and society or is its influence exaggerated?. The Internet’s role in...

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What does privacy mean in a connected world?

Andrew Keen entrepreneur; founder, Audiocafe.com; author, Digital Vertigo: how today’s online social revolution is dividing, diminishing, and disorienting us Gerd Leonhard futurist; CEO, The Futures Agency Martyn Perks director, Thinking Apart; co-author Big Potatoes: the London manifesto for innovation Chair Timandra Harkness  journalist and writer; co-writer and performer, BrainSex, Humans V Nature: Engineering FTW!and Your...

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Success is more than counting clicks

  Today things are reversed. Out: politicians with conviction; businesses who innovate with products and services. In: politicians who interpret opinion polls; businesses who make sure everything is ‘tested-to-death’ so it works technically. Voting by clicks offers engagement with a button not a political idea. Similarly, businesses who chase their customers for ideas will end up in the same cul-de-sack as everyone else. While...

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Blog-standard politics

Billed as a '24-hour blogathon', Watson used his blog – an online journal – to kickstart debates on the issues that 'matter most to us' (or to those who can be bothered to stay up all night). He says he received over 300 comments and more than 1000 visits to his site (1). Quite impressive – after all, it's not often you hear about politicians staying up all night to develop policy. But how much...

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Dean and not heard

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What’s the big idea?

Consider the new committee charged with making parliament more accessible to the masses. A specially designed website, chaired by once-radical MP Peter Hain, asks three questions: 'How could the Palace of Westminster be made more visitor-friendly? How could proceedings in parliament be made easier to follow? Does parliament adequately reflect the concerns of ordinary people?' (1) This looks less like an attempt to address the...

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The tyranny of technology

The growing number of ‘e-awards’ is a case in point. From the eLearning Awards, which ‘rewards excellent practice in using ICT [Information and Communication Technologies] for learning across Europe’ (3) to the eWell-Being Awards, which ‘celebrate the social, economic and environmental benefits’ of ICT (4), each purportedly seeks out examples of how to use technology for the public good. And the rewards are high – for instance,...

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Don’t curb design enthusiasm

Indeed, the issue of sustainable design seemed an almost irresistible force, with many questioning how consumerism can be sustainable and what role the designer can play in creating a globally sustainable society. So does this mean we'll get better design – or the design we deserve? And is celebrating design for its own sake now off limits? It seems that what is being put forward is a way of using design to point the finger...

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Hands off our internet connections

Harmful Content on the Internet and in Video Games , a report by the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee was published last Thursday. The committee’s report draws on an earlier report for the UK government authored by popular clinical psychologist, TV pundit and presenter Dr Tanya Byron, published in March. The Byron Report concluded that ‘[C]hildren and young people need to be empowered to keep themselves safe’. In what...

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The rise and rise of ‘anti-design’

  Shocking stuff. Is this another outburst from a well-known and impetuous maverick? Perhaps. But it is also clear that Starck has become a convert to green design, turning his back on his past ‘unnecessary’ misdemeanours. All is not lost, however – or so it seems. Next year, Starck is launching the first of his new ideas: a wind turbine for homes costing just £400, which he claims will produce 60 per cent of the power needed...

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The best foundation for the web: open debate

Tim Berners-Lee, credited with inventing the World Wide Web, chose to launch the foundation at the headquarters of the John S and James L Knight Foundation, an institution that awards grants to help transform communities and journalism. In his inaugural speech about the Foundation, Berners-Lee said its aims are ‘to advance One Web that is free and open, to expand the web’s capability and robustness, and to extend the web’s benefits to...

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