BOB JESSOP AND JOHN LAW: Failing Designs for Safe Living

New Sciences of Protection Conference: Theme Panel 2 ‘Design Failure and Designing for Failure,’ with John Law and Bob Jessop.

John Law and Bob Jessop (download presentation) offered differing diagnoses of design failure. They also each provided some tentative thoughts on how designs for safe living could begin to be reconciled with the excess of unsafety which always evades even the best-laid plans. Both agreed that the complex and processual nature of the socio-physical world could never be full captured and accounted for in any design for safe living, and that designs for safe living can never provide a guarantee of safe living. This was the starting point for both their discussions which addressed the problems of how the governance, management and organization of safe living might begin to be reconciled with this excess of unsafety and uncertainty.

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FIONA RABY: Do you want to replace the existing normal? – an error message from Microsoft word

FIONA RABY (Royal College of Art, Dunne & Raby)

“Do you want to replace the existing normal? this is a piece of poetry when it pops up on the screen unexpectedly. And its very interesting as it is exactly what we have been specialising all our time through what we attempt to do in design. Design sits entirely in the normal, the banal, the popular, the trivial, the norm is the starting point for every project. The norm is always there to keep as a point of reference no matter how strange the project might seem.”

Fiona opened the conference with an insight in to the way that design tries to sit itself in the tangibility of the everyday. This was an interesting lead into describing the design for debate approach that deals with the implications of science and technologies in our everyday lives through using design as tool to enable provocation, stimulation and most importantly discussion and reaction. Fiona continued to give an overview of the various designers who have taken this approach in their work and how that has been evolving over the past ten years and how some of the outcomes from a variety of design practitioners has culminated into the recent exhibition Design and the Elastic Mind, curated by Paola Antonelli at the MOMA in New York.

With this introduction she lead on to give an summary of the collaborative workshop between the various designers and social scientists that has occurred via the New Sciences of Protection Designing Safe Living research programme at Lancaster University. Emphasizing the fact that this collaborative experiment has been about broadening the way designers ask questions and consider dilemma in society.

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New Sciences of Protection: Conference opening

Conference Opening with Bob Jessop, Cynthia Weber and Andrew Clement; Theme Panel 1 (New Sciences of Protection: Designing Safe Living) with Cynthia Weber, Adrian McKenzie and Mark Lacy

Cynthia Weber, Adrian McKenzie and Mark Lacy opened the first panel session with a reminder of the three central themes or questions which the research programme ‘New Sciences of Protection: Designing Safe Living’ has been trying to address. Is safe living conceivable, achievable and desirable? Conceptions of safe living are everywhere today: in the mass media, government policy, ‘think-tanks’ and NGO’s. The panel discussed the centrality of ‘design’ as a set of socio-technical practices in taking safe living from the conceptual to the practical level. The way conceptions of safe living are literally designed-in to both ‘everyday’ and ‘exceptional’ objects and systems. The panel moved on to ask what happens to politics when it becomes preoccupied with design, and the design of safe living in particular, as the titles of the UK national security documents ‘Designing out Insecurity’ and ‘Designing in Protection’ indicate. Evaluating safe living, whether it is desirable as a politics, as an ethics, and as a day-to-day way of life necessarily involves paying attention to the way safe living is designed. But it also requires sensitivity to the experience of this or that form of safe living. A crucial question then concerns the stratification of experience of a particular conception of safe living, as it is designed and operationalized on the ground. Does it make everyone feel safe in the same way, or does the experience of safety for some necessarily involve generating feelings of unsafety for others? And more generally, what is the relationship between feelings of safety and unsafety? Who decides on what is considered safe living and who it is for? What is the strategic calculus for determining the acceptable amount of unsafety generated for some in the realization of safe living for others? Lastly the panel discussed how, as ‘social scientists’ and as ‘designers,’ it is possible to critically interrupt and intervene in the processes of conceiving, designing and operationalizing safe living: a process which is increasingly presented as a smooth and unproblematic ‘designer politics.’

Thank you to our fabulous Joseph Rigby for this great summary

Brazil prisoner’s pigeon drug mules

Brazilian prison authorities have discovered carrier pigeons being used to deliver drugs and mobile phones to inmates. Officers were alerted to the scheme at a prison near Sao Paulo, when they noticed some of the birds experiencing difficulty flying.

See BBC video clip>

Top 10 strangest anti-terrorism patents

Explosion Containment Net

U.S. Patent 6854374, Explosion containment net, by O. Alan Breazeale. Issued Feb 15, 2005.

See more here>

Thanks Bruce Schneier

The Designing Safe Living conference

Images: Women with fire masks, Priscilla Huggable Mushroom Cloud, Surveillance light

The international conference will be held at the conference centre in Lancaster University from 10th – 12th July with a variety of keynote and panel session speakers. Subjects raised include Genomics and Design, Designing Safe Citizens, Design , Body and Control, etc. To view in more detail about the topics that will be discussed check out the programme here>

Keynote speakers:

Fiona Raby (Royal College of Art, London, UK and dunneandraby designs, author of Design Noir)

Professor Lucy Suchman
(Lancaster University, UK, ‘Human-Machine Reconfigurations: Plans and Situated Actions 2nd Edition’)

Lynn Hershman Leeson (Director of ‘Strange Culture’) this will be conducted via Second Life

Benjamin H. Bratton (Director Advanced Strategies Group at Yahoo!, SCI_Arc and UCLA Design|Media Arts, author of Design and Terrorism)

Timothy W. Luke (Virginia Polytechnic University, author of ‘Vectors of Visualization’)

Sheila Jasanoff Harvard University

Patricia Clough CUNY

Strange Culture: miniclip