Designers often want to help people that they perceive as being in need -- whether those affected by natural or human-caused disasters, the economically or physically disadvantaged, or those who are on the losing end of a cultural power dynamic. However, naive attempts to "help" through simplistic techno-centric design can be at best ineffective, and at worst counter-productive.
What can designers do to better connect with the communities and individuals they wish to serve? How can design projects avoid patronizing attitudes and economic colonialization? How can a designer be effective in promoting social change while following their conscience?
This panel brings together designers who have worked in the mental health industry, international development, the prison system, and community environmental action to discuss what has worked and what hasn't, and what approaches designers can take to increase their chances of success.
- Charlie DeTar (Moderator) Co-founder of Between the Bars, a blogging platform for prisoners. Fellow at the Center for Future Civic Media, and PhD student at the MIT Media Lab.
- Patricia Deegan Creator of the CommonGround web application which supports shared decision making in psychopharmacology consultation. Adjunct Professor at the Dartmouth College School of Medicine and at Boston University, Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.
- Liz Barry Director of Urban Environment at Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science, a collaborative developing inexpensive and community-led means to explore environmental and social issues; Co-founder of TreeKIT, an initiative to collaboratively measure, map, and manage urban forests.
- Nathan Cooke Born and raised in California, USA, Cooke works at MIT’s D-Lab documenting technologies and working with students on design projects. He has previous experience working for Frog Design in San Francisco and at Autodesk as part of their Sustainability division.