Bookmark: "Solving All the Wrong Problems"

Sebastian Greger


Based on my experiences from teaching at Aalto University’s design department last fall, all hope is not lost on the issues this op-ed on the New York Times raises:

If the most fundamental definition of design is to solve problems, why are so many people devoting so much energy to solving problems that don’t really exist? How can we get more people to look beyond their own lived experience?

Author Allison Arieff ponders the importance of what is considered progress in parts of the tech scene, highlighting how well-funded innovation often serves a marginal slice of society and how the “uninteresting” target groups (those with real problems that would need solving) are too easily forgotten. Given their enormous capacity, do designers really change lives for better?

To “hack” is to cut, to gash, to break. It proceeds from the belief that nothing is worth saving, that everything needs fixing. But is that really the case? Are we fixing the right things? Are we breaking the wrong ones? Is it necessary to start from scratch every time?

This text will be required reading in any future courses I am going to teach on design.

I'm Sebastian, Sociologist and Interaction Designer. This journal is mostly about bringing toge­ther social science and design for inclusive, privacy-focused, and sustainable "human-first" digital strategies. I also tend to a "digital garden" with carefully curated resources.

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