[Open Design] Open design and it's political dimension

Kat Braybrooke kat.braybrooke at gmail.com
Tue Mar 19 12:42:59 UTC 2013

Hello Aitor,

Thanks for this - quite interesting. Having a background in both political
science and design, so this is especially fascinating for me - do you have
more of the speech recorded than the introduction?

This quote I found especially compelling: "Open design should always be
considered in its political dimension, because transparency, collaboration
and release of resources are strategies that do not fully guarantee the
balance and social justice by themselves."

In my own (young!) experience with fields related to transparency and
collaborative peer-production, I wouldn't say the concept of Open Design
has often easily fit within such politicised paradigms - but I agree that
it should.

Extrapolating a passage from Yochai Benkler's famous 'Cos's Penguin, or
Linux and the Nature of the Firm', one could start to make some interesting
connections between the two dichotomies you identify - namely, the
increasing politicisation of such commons-based production versus the more
functional method: "The advantages of peer production are, then, improved
identification and allocation of human creativity. These advantages appear
to have become salient, because human creativity itself has become salient.
In the domain of information and culture, production generally comprises
the combination of preexisting information/cultural inputs, human
creativity, and the physical capital necessary to (1) fix ideas and human
utterances in media capable of storing and communicating them and (2)
transmit them. "

Would be interesting to have a further discussion about this!


@kat_braybrooke <http://twitter.com/kat_braybrooke> | kaibray.com |
local groups <http://okfn.org/local> | open design <http://design.okfn.org> |
the open book <http://theopenbook.org.uk>

On Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 9:31 AM, Aitor Méndez <aitor at e451.net> wrote:

> Hello everybody. I'm Aitor Méndez, graphic designer from Madrid, Spain.
> The following is an introduction of the speech I wrote past year for the
> Open Design and Shared creativity Congress. In this moment I'm not totally
> sure of the role of Open Design in the social structure as seems in this
> introduction, but I think this can be a good starting point to talk about
> political dimension of Open Design:
> The politics of language in graphic design.
> Interventon at Open Design and Shared Creativity congress. Madrid June
> 2012.
> Introduction:
> This presentation aims to be an approach to open design through an unusual
> perspective, language. Open design is, to a large extent, the extrapolation
> of free software’s methods and goals to the field of design. Thus it is
> understandable that its proposals arise from tools that enable
> collaboration and how the results of design work can be shared. Language is
> a fundamental and unavoidable tool in design work, and it is surprising
> that no one, to my knowledge, has ever broached the issue of language from
> the perspective of open design.
> But, what is the question that we have to approach? What are free software
> and culture about? Are transparency, collaboration and reusability aims by
> themselves? Most of the approaches and debates regarding open design seem
> to implicitly answer yes, losing sight of the fact that transparency,
> collaboration and reusability are mere strategies for a single purpose: the
> emancipation of the individual from the various powers that try to impose
> their conditions of existence. This objective could also be defined as the
> attempt to balance the forces between large power structures and
> individuals, giving back to them the chance to intervene and participate
> effectively in the organisation of their own existence. This question, and
> no other, is the spirit that should guide open design. This claim may seem
> obvious but it is increasingly necessary to pose due to the multitude of
> cases of misappropriation, or rather expropriation that the market executes
> regarding free and open strategies. We can see how the market uses free
> strategies to pursue its own ends, very far from equilibrium and social
> equality claimed in the premises of a free cultural movement.
> In other words, open design should always be considered in its political
> dimension, because transparency, collaboration and release of resources are
> strategies that do not fully guarantee the balance and social justice by
> themselves.
> The dichotomy between these two meanings of open design- the one that
> identifies a political dimension as its purpose and its raison d'être, and
> the one that is merely to implement a range of strategies that could also
> be used to promote the emancipation of the individual and, instead,
> supports their subordination- is, in fact, the same as it is given in the
> field of free software between these two meanings "open source" and "free
> software". It would be appropriate, therefore, to address these two areas
> as open and free design layout.
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