Probing Design and Democracy through the Lens of Participatory Media

Can we draw on plural conceptions of democracy to critically understand design practices and products? And can we inquire into democracy by examining the social interactions made possible by design? In this talk, I trace the theme of democracy as it appears in design discourse and manifests in products of design. More specifically, through a series of examples including industrial design products, serious games, and locative media, I identify dominant conceptions of democracy in design discourse and outline the patterns of social interactions that they shape. Drawing on these examples, I highlight the potentials, boundaries, and limitations of these conceptions of democracy and set forth the implications for design theory and practice.

Nassim JafariNaimi, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Digital Media program at the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech. Her scholarship in digital media brings together design studies, human-computer interaction, science and technology studies, and pragmatic philosophy to engage with questions on the relationship of digital media design and democracy. Her research is both theoretical and design-based, engaging a wide range of digital forms including civic media, interactive visualizations, social and educational games, and locative media. At Georgia Tech, she directs the Design and Social Interaction Studio, a research studio that investigates the place, potentials, and limitations of digital media in facilitating democratic modes of social interaction across multiple sites of inquiry such as virtual communities formed around digital games or neighborhood interactions mediated by locative media. For more information visit, http://nassim.lmc.gatech.edu/, and http://designstudio.gatech.edu .