Designing Against the Status Quo

My article entitled Designing Against the Status Quo has been published in interactions magazine. This research, a collaboration with Vera Khovanskaya, Lynn Dombrowski, Ellie Harmon, Matthias Korn, Ann Light, and Michael Stewart, reflects on the growing interest among the HCI community to leverage design as an agent of change in large-scale social challenges like sustainability, labor politics, and sexism. Yet the methodological repertoire we know is ill-suited to the task. Practicing a traditional user-centered design process—one widely adopted in industry and taught in universities—would have us researching existing practices and needs in order to design technologies that might comfortably fit into existing routines. If we truly want to innovate, transform, and disrupt, we need new ways of working. In this article, we explore how we might innovate in both method and outcome to design interactive systems that are responsive to current and future societal challenges. In contrast to user-centered design, we look for ways to design against the status quo, working to thwart the routines, habits, and norms of a social life that is inequitable and unsustainable.