Design Eats the World



My latest design column looks at intentional design and why it's changing the world. Below are a few examples with excerpts.

Privacy by Design is not just for Companies


Excerpt: We live in the age of massive data breaches. From Yahoo compromising all its users to Equifax compromising the data of nearly half the country, our recent past is littered with examples of entire systems failing us.

But security and privacy work upward from the user and downward from the systems. As responsible as companies need to be, we, as student consumers, ought to be aware of the information we give out and how we “design” our privacy as well.

Design Eats the World: Designing Against Abuse in the Age of Twitter

Illustration by Amelia Shull

Illustration by Amelia Shull

First published on April 6, 2017

Excerpt: Harassment on social media isn’t new or unique. From the cyberbullying of children on Facebook and Instagram to large-scale harassment campaigns against people like Leslie Jones, abuse and harassment has grown with these companies.

The number of instances and the scale of both major and minor abuses of these platforms have increasingly taken center stage in discussions about social media. 

Design Eats the World: The Politics of Typography

Illustration by Chloe Yeo

Illustration by Chloe Yeo

Excerpt: I briefly mentioned Donald Trump’s business typography and how it was sneered at by elite designers, but what was he trying to convey? On his current website, Trump uses a font called Trajan, a capitals only typeface whose serifs (the little foot-like protrusions on the ends of letters) are inspired by Roman columns

It’s meant to convey a sense of authority by alluding to a part of European history widely associated with grandeur. The effect is complete when the font is put beside the Trump Network’s faux-heraldic shield. This association with fiat is strong enough that Trajan is also used for the logo of political drama “The West Wing.” 

Design Eats the World: Death to bad assignment prompts

Published February 23rd, 2016

If you’re a university student, it’s likely you’ve witnessed a bad assignment prompt at least once. Anecdotally, we are used to whining about tight deadlines and the lack of free time.

However, as someone who has studied at the UW in three different schools across two degree levels, I’ve faced my share of really frustrating assignment prompts. It’s quite likely that bad assignment prompts are hurting Huskies’ learning experiences and grades.

Design Eats the World: How “bad” design gave Donald Trump the presidency

Illustration by Arunabh Satpathy

Illustration by Arunabh Satpathy

Published Feb 9, 2017

President Trump’s election also challenged the design community. Despite being derided as “bad” by experts, Trump’s design sensibility achieved virality and iconic status. It also subverted the idea of design as highly thought-out, intentional change.

Don Norman, a widely-regarded expert in design, wrote about communication between the designer and the user.

“Sometimes this conversation is accidental,” Norman wrote. “But in the hands of good designers, the communication is intentional.”

Design Eats the World: Refiltered bubbles

Illustration by Ben Celsi

Illustration by Ben Celsi

Published Jan 26, 2017

The filter bubble and its effect on the election has been well documented by now. Donald Trump had a massive turnout at the general election in November, much to the surprise of coastal liberals.

In the turbulence of its wake, the election brought up several pertinent questions about media consumption today. Why are Americans so balkanized? What are the causes? How could the internet simultaneously be so open and still obscure the massive support for Trump? 
Designing ourselves out of the filter bubble has become crucial.

Design Eats the World: ‘Fourth Place’ coffee shops

Laptop Man (Public domain)

Published Jan 12, 2017

Historically, coffee shops and other spaces where people could meet were the only “internet” we had. They were places where people could meet and exchange ideas at a relatively brisk pace.