Reading Response #8:
to Artful Design • Chapter 8: Manifesto & Coda

Noah B.
Music 256A

"Increasingly the world we inhabit is the one we make, where engineers directly and indirectly shape our lives."

I would just add to this that our philosophies are manifested in the objects that we build 

I like the idea of the (Platonically Inspired) Technology Cave. Both literally, as computers and screens are so easily compared to flickering shadows & light on the Platonic cave wall, and figuratively, in terms of the notions of "humanness and meaning", deeper truths.

I wonder, however, if this notion of "something more" or "something deeper" or something that somehow transcends the material world is the quintessential trap of Western thought that draws its very roots to the quoted Platonic cave. Perhaps we need to look, instead of "deeper" or "inwards", outwards, towards the interconnectedness of all phenomena and all things. I think that this was touched upon in the previous chapter (Social Design). 

I wonder with all this highly abstract principles and ethos how it might apply in terms of more concrete design principles – how does something like a sequencer take us "closer to the light"? How does it resist the Platonic Cave – a shiny object without much depth? Isn't there a time and place for shiny objects wihtout much depth, e.g. toys? Isn't most of what we have been designing fall into the 'toy' category? Can toys be deep? Yes of course. Do they have to be? Not necessarily. 

When talking about more consequential design decisions, like any of the major tech companies and their products, or urban design, or government / legal design, morality becomes self-evident. So why is it lacking so often? Most likely due to the "design of the world", where the driving forces behind 'development' is often money, greed, efficiency over thoughtfulness, most straightforward solutions, etc. 

Anyway, the idea that design embeds our values and our values are expressed through design has been reiterated over and over in this book, and it's totally true! Humanist designers and artful engineers hopefully will abound in this world and the world to come. Of course music is the perfect nexus of these worlds, and so many others, one of countless reasons why it's an endlessly fascinating medium to me and so many others all around the world. Mixing artfulness and technical rigor is perfect for many things. I appreciate the list of all the principles at the end of the book.