Monteiro, Mike. Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It. Mule Books.
We live in an artificial world; most everything we interact with has been designed by another human. In Ruined by Design, Monteiro explores this territory from the perspective of a professional designer. His quest is to make the case that designers have an obligation to think beyond the immediate demands of making some idea come to life and to ask “why” questions that are going unaddressed. His claim is that
A designer uses their expertise in the service of others without being a servant. Saying no is a design skill. Asking why is a design skill. Rolling your eyes and staying quiet is not. Asking ourselves why we are making something is an infinitely better question than asking ourselves whether we can make it.
He builds a compelling case but I want to take his argument further. Asking why is a design skill. It is a design skill that we should all develop.
It is a powerful step to ask why. Children know the power of this line of inquiry. It is a power to develop not suppress, whatever the temptation as a weary parent.
Too much of our educational and organizational energy is devoted to fighting the power of “why” instead of developing and strengthening it. Monteiro’s concern is that designers have abdicated their responsibility. Mine is that we all have.
We live in a designed world. That makes all of us designers. Every choice we make about what technologies to use and how to use them is a design choice. Montiero’s target audience is professional designers; you are part of that audience.