New book: Design and society

My new book is now out!  The full title is, "Design and Society: Social issues in technological design."  The book was written for the STV 202 course but is also suitable for a general audience since it is non-technical and assumes no previous familiarity with the topic.  It is also brief, at under 250 pages, and contains numerous, practical examples of concepts discussed.

Ethics in technological design

The theme of CSTV's Design & Society course is "good design".  When I ask students what this expression means, they tend to think, first of all, about technical matters, e.g., efficiency, cost, usability, and so on.  However, as the course progresses, we come to ethical issues, e.g., is the design "good" for people, and in what sense?

Fair algorithms

An interesting piece by Matt Reynolds in New Scientist describes work that aims to make algorithms fair.  A team of computer scientists at the Alan Turing Institute in London defines a fair algorithm as follows:

[a fair algorithm is] one that makes the same decision about an individual regardless of demographic background.

Why have augmented reality on a smarphone?

Mark Sullivan at FastCompany reports that Apple is planning its entry into the augmented reality market.  In rough terms, augmented reality (AR) involves layering computer-generated graphics over live views of a given scene.

Seats for disabled passengers

An interesting post by Áine Pennello in CityLab discusses how disabled passengers may find seating on public transit.  There is often not enough seating for everyone, so the matter of who sits becomes an important issue. 

The LZR bike

Ben Coxworth at New Atlas recently posted a short piece about a bicycle going by the name of the Camard LZR.  One look at the design shows that the bike is meant to be distinctive.

Is basketball the same without the sound effect?

I recently discussed the matter of authenticity in connection with soymilk.  I asked: Is soymilk milk?  Fake milk? 

Is soymilk milk?

Candice Choi published an interesting article in STAT about a controversy regarding "fake milk".  Dairy producers in the USA are asking the Food and Drug Administration to crack down on products with names such as "soymilk", arguing that they are not really milk under FDA rules.

“Mammals produce milk, plants don’t,” said Jim Mulhern, president of the National Milk Producers Federation.

Can communication cure road rage?

Timothy Revell reports on a system named "CarNote" that allows drivers to send each other messages while underway.  The basic idea is that drivers can explain their behavior to others, thus reducing the risk of aggressive interactions, e.g., "road rage".

Technology and the fragility of human dignity

Ian Bogost has written a lovely little essay for the Atlantic, musing on the ends of technology and their impact on human dignity.  His conclusion is fundamentally pessimistic, that humanity is perhaps blindly and inexorably headed towards a state where people work for their machines rather than the other way around.

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