The ‘projects’ I ‘like’ are almost always non-design.
> I am most enamored of beautifully formulated ideas (anything by Jean-Luc Nancy, Elaine Scarry or Francois Jullien, most of Jacques Derrida and Luce Irigary, Vilem Flusser and Donna Haraway, etc)
> I spend most of my money on music (contemporary classical, post-classical, minimalist, post-minimalist – anything by John Adams and Heiner Goebbels, most of Bang on a Can, Michael Nyman and Louis Andriessen, Simeon Ten Holt and Oliver Knussen, etc)
> I used to love cinema (anything by Andrej Tarkovsky and Peter Greenaway, much of Atom Egoyan, Lars von Trier and Tsai Ming-Liang, etc)
> I did some theater once (Bertolt Brecht, Howard Barker, etc)
> I have a pretentious but not that well-informed love of espresso-based coffees, but this may be a form of ex-pat nostalgia (e.g., to find good coffee when traveling, Google ‘Australian Baristas in [where you are]’)
I value critique. I think nearly all criticism – as opposed to abuse, belittling, or dismissal (though the line is blurred and I do often cross it when moving too quickly) – is constructive. Design happens, and is taught, via negativa because it is not possible to say beforehand what will be a preferable, useful, future satisficer. It is true that designers can and should criticize by offering alternatives. But it is also necessary to be critical before, in order to movitate, thinking of an alternative. Designing could benefit from being more articulate in its critiquing.
More generally, I believe that the world is losing the capacity to think critically, and that North America in particular is allergic to criticism – as opposed to partisanship. I like to think that a pedagogic aspect of my social media persona is modeling a critical reception of effervescent content. I think false optimism is more dangerous than wearisome pessimism. Liking – over and above how confused this interaction is in advertising-aggregating-centric social media – strikes me as mostly unreflective. For social media to attain Kantian cosmopolitanism, what is shared must be judgments. In this schema, ‘liking’ would not be a contagiously enthused affect, but an analysis of what is pleasurable in some ‘thing’ – which entails also discerning what is not pleasurable or well-done in that ‘thing.’ Critical ‘liking’?
The internet is subsidized by and structured by advertising for unsustainable business-as-usual. The social value of the internet (‘more of the planet’s population are connected to each other than ever before!’) is everyday undermined by attempts to monetize that sociality. To paraphrase Lacan, algorithms know no negative – or, at least, they are still very bad at picking them up: a link or product mention is a data point whether or not it is preceded by a negative sentiment, especially if expressed in ways just a little bit more sophisticated than ‘I hate X.’ (I gave a confused talk in this area once.) But real people reading internet content should be able to understand the qualification. So being critical about content is a way of having conversations with people that in some ways are unreadable, or get misread, by the commercializing machines (though also the idiots at the NSA – if I were to say ‘if only terrorists managed to terrorize the elites ’ will I suffer rendition because a computer missed the quotation marks?)
Am I bad person for not liking anything? Are my judgments invalid if they are all negative? Why must I be for something rather than against everything (so far – still waiting)? Is this a social norm (‘it uncivil to be so negative – you put yourself above everybody else you criticize’) or an instrumentalist one (‘you must be practicable – it is wasteful to not have a positive practice – at least identify what kind of thing you would do even if you can’t actually do it’)? I would prefer not to.
Design projects I like to tend to be:
- not new – they were well done so we live them habitually because they are our habitats. Good designs withdraw behind the valuable practices they enable. They do not need to be redesigned. Enough already.
- over time – they are not discrete products or events but a series of strategic design moves fostering social learning leading to structural econo-technical regime transitions – see https://www.facebook.com/transitiondesigncmu
- service systems – they are processes, mostly complex and rarely static, something between Charles Spinosa and Fernando Flores’ Disclosing New Worlds and Shoshana Zuboff’s Support Economy (though both those texts are uncritically capitalistic).
I committed my life to Theory and then academia went violently Post-Theory. I backed the Sharing Economy and then it became a force for neoliberal evil at the hands of the Paypal Mafia and their Wall Street extortionists. So I have decided to keep my hopes and pleasures private from now on