"Whose stories underpin design? And what methods might be possible if designers tell those stories differently?" HCDE Assistant Professor Daniela Rosner explores these questions in her new book, Critical Fabulations, published by MIT Press.
In Critical Fabulations, Daniela Rosner proposes redefining design as investigative and activist, personal and culturally situated, responsive and responsible. Challenging the field's dominant paradigms and reinterpreting its history, Rosner wants to change the way we historicize the practice, reworking it from the inside. Focusing on the development of computational systems, she takes on powerful narratives of innovation and technology shaped by the professional expertise that has become integral to the field's mounting status within the new industrial economy. To do so, she intervenes in legacies of design, expanding what is considered "design" to include long-silenced narratives of practice, and enhancing existing design methodologies based on these rediscovered inheritances. Drawing on discourses of feminist technoscience, she examines craftwork's contributions to computing innovation―how craftwork becomes hardware manufacturing, and how hardware manufacturing becomes craftwork. She reclaims, for example, NASA's "Little Old Ladies," the women who built information storage for the Apollo missions by weaving wires through magnetized metal rings.
Mixing history, theory, personal experience, and case studies, Rosner reweaves fibers of technoscience by slowly reworking the methods and margins of design. She suggests critical fabulations as ways of telling stories that awaken alternative histories, and offers a set of techniques and orientations for fabulating its future. Critical Fabulations shows how design's hidden inheritances open different possibilities for practice.
Daniela K. Rosner is an assistant professor in Human Centered Design and Engineering, where she co-directs HCDE's Tactile and Tactical Design Lab. She describes her new book in a blog post, here.
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UW News interviewed Professor Rosner to discuss the release of her book, Q&A: What can we learn from the hidden history of technology design?.