Adversarial Design as Inquiry and Practice

Throughout this book, I have presented examples of adversarial design, including software that reveals the entanglement of military and university research programs, social robots that curse at one another, and umbrellas that counteract surveillance systems. Each of these illustrates how design can do the work of agonism. These artifacts and systems are adversarial because they represent and enact the political conditions of contemporary society and function as contestational objects that challenge and offer alternatives to dominant practices and agendas. They exemplify a series of tactics that can be used to do the work of agonism—revealing hegemony, reconfiguring the remainder, and articulating collectives. Coupled with these tactics are computational qualities that provide distinctive affor- dances for doing the work of agonism, highlighting what it means to do design with computation, and moreover, what it means to do political design with computation.

So far, I have drawn distinctions between categories of objects, computational qualities, and tactics. I have highlighted what is particular to each and described how design can do the work of agonism. In this final chapter, I briefly extend the idea of adversarial design in two directions—as a kind of inquiry and as a practice. These two directions should provide material for ongoing scholarship into adversarial design and outline how adversarial design could be taken up by practicing designers.

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