Whether we think of issues of governance, religion, race, the environment, economic development, education, or healthcare, the inability to communicate, cooperate or compromise erodes social capital and weakens the ability to draw on diverse skill sets to address common challenges.
This conference calls for ideas that help bridge social divides from the fields of communication design, service design, user experience design, behavioral and social psychology and partners in civic engagement. These will include projects, media innovations and citizen brigades among others. The conference will also schedule workshops and planning sessions to jump start some of those ideas.
I’m driving down to WVU early tomorrow morning to attend Designing for the Divide, a conference on community action across lines of difference. The conference chairs are my colleagues, the design faculty at WVU. The conference is the brain child of Eve Faulkes, the professor under which I received by bachelor’s degree.
There is an interesting array of speakers, ranging from Yossi Lemel, and internationally recognized, Israeli poster artist, to Emily Pilloton, founder of Project H and author of the book Design Revolution. There will be workshops dealing with industry and the environment, religion, health issues, the economy, and the politics that surround them. It should be an interesting two days.
My students created large-format posters dealing with some of the issues as their most recent project, and I intend to share a couple of them with you next week.
It all brings to mind this passage from Richard Saul Wurman’s book, Information Architects:
There is a tsunami of data that is crashing onto the beaches of the civilized world. This is a tidal wave of unrelated, growing data formed in bits and bytes, coming in an unorganized, uncontrolled, incoherent cacophony of foam. It’s filled with flotsam and jetsam. It’s filled with the sticks and bones and shells of inanimate and animate life. None of it is easily related, none of it comes with any organizational methodology.
As it washes up on our beaches, we see people in suits and ties skipping along the shoreline, men and women in fine shirts and blouses dressed for business. We see graphic designers and government officials, all getting their shoes wet and slowly submerging in the dense trough of stuff.
These same people read the newspaper, thinking they understand the issues of the day, whether it’s the Savings and Loan crisis, the health-care crisis, Bosnia-Hercegovina, or taxes, or insurance. They nod their heads, knee-jerking to key words in headlines, but unable to tell anybody else, including themselves, the essence of any issue.