This book is a worthwhile read for the satisfying layout if not the helpful content. Escobar draws you through the current context of design, through changes that could be made, and what currently being developed in a manner that is at times dense, but that tends to come with an analysis of design.
I primarily read this through the lens of someone interested in sustainability, in the broader sense, not only environmental. I was curious how one could apply (at then unknown) proinciples to building and/or sustaining of technology (I'm a software engineer by day), communities, relationships, etc. With this in mind, I found the most following ideas salient.
- "The more tradition is weakened, the more subjects must learn to design their own lives"
o As a millenial this resonated with me given the popular writing about how we are "killing" industries. We are simply finding our own ways to navigate the world, some to the detriment of it.
- "Questions of class, gender, race, and coloniality are notoriously absent from design theory and practice, and so is that of design's dependence on capitalism."
o Previously, design would have not taken into account the inclusion of divergent opinions, but now they are more needed than ever to sustain capitalism. There are a couple of strategies I observe at work here- the ergonomic neutralization of design (e.g. Apple products) and, alternatively, personalization (style personalization services like Stitch Fix). Companies increasingly make their product fit everyone, or only one. (There is more to speak on here.)
- "We create reality by participation and action."
o Exactly what it says. Since I read this at the start of 2020, I have resolutions on my mind, so it is also a call to action and increase physical engagement with the world. Being digitally distant is simply not enough.