As a design researcher and educator working in human-computer interaction, I often find myself in the business of "empowering" students by teaching them design. As a professor, I write grant proposals that use the magic of design to bring forth preferable futures. Yet, within the present socio-environ-political context, I find myself increasingly conflicted by these claims and asking myself, what, really, can design do? I will not be able to answer any of these questions during this talk because I don't know, but I will argue that the position of not-knowing, humility, and non-expert is useful for critically reflecting on the relevance of our practices. I will present ways that myself, collaborators, and the students with whom I work have been using weaving (sometimes with circuits, some without) as a practice through which to to try to probe, question, and understand what counts as design and the kinds of narratives we must take on in order to be "designers." I aim for this talk to inspire reflection and offer a few tactics for unknowing in order to think otherwise.
Laura Devendorf is an assistant professor in Information Science and the ATLAS Institute at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her research questions the role of design and making in the wake of increasingly pressing global challenges. She directs the Unstable Design Lab where she works closely with students across engineering, information science, and art to speculate on alternative futures for technology. The lab currently focuses on weaving smart textiles and how themes of slowness, presence, and material negotiation can be used as both a practice and metaphor to formulate these visions. She earned bachelors' degrees in studio art and computer science from the University of California Santa Barbara before earning her Ph.D. at UC Berkeley School of Information. Her research has been featured on National Public Radio and has received multiple best paper awards at top conferences in the field of human-computer interaction.
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