Social design is something we all do. When you host a dinner or start an organization, you think how the dinner should flow, and what the roles should be in the organization. That's social design. When you build an app and decide how moderation or signups should work—that's social design too.
The practices in this textbook are meant to work with a social design project of yours. You'll need a project you care about. You could redesign
- Tech products (like Louise)
- Academic lab meetings and conferences (like Adam)
- Death rituals (like Stephany),
- Blockchain investment structures (like Kash)
♥️ Empathy Practices
Designers want to make their designs good for people. So, they need clear ideas about what's good for who. We use values—your own and other people's—as design criteria. To do this, you need to get much more specific about values. You need to interview people whose lives will be touched by your project, and collect their values.
Our VETing interviews can be intimate, but this step is just as important for students with larger-scale projects. For example, Will from even.com led a major redesign of his app, away from the user-goal of getting a low-cost loan, towards a set of articulated user-values of becoming financially empowered. Our methods allowed even.com to name what financial empowerment means for users, to make their redesign testable, and those values monitorable in user surveys and dashboards.
When are you best able to be honest, bold, creative, etc? When does it become impossible?
🧠 Imagination Practices
To imagine better social designs, conventional methods of sketching, brainstorming, and prototyping aren't enough. As you learn, you'll imagine radical new approaches to your project.
Sketch many ways to support a value, focused on different "hard steps".
We'll help you make quick experiences, games, and structured interactions for a test population, to explore how a set of constraints affects a value.
Every designer tends towards imagining some kinds of solutions, but not others. (For instance, blockchain and mechanism designers tend to focus on incentives, and miss other ways to support values—like relationship structures, theatrical elements, and legitimation processes.)
So—to round out your imagination—we'll make you focus on design directions you don't naturally consider: some of your design sketches will focus on the kinds of relationships that foster that value; some, on what settings and timings support it; which kinds of social network shapes and legitimation processes support it; and finally, which incentives might support or undermine it.
🗣️ Argumentation Practices
If you work in a team, or need to attract people into your system, you'll need to make the case for the values you picked, and show that your design is uniquely suited to support them.
What Success Looks Like
- We make a custom plan for each student. Each Learner has a Roadmap
- You get a personal guide who understands how you work best, and how the whole process can be rewarding for you. The guide sets up meetings and group sessions and arranges mentors for the relevant skills (just in time to use them).
If you go through the course
- You'll have gained an empathy about values; your design imagination will take new directions; you'll be articulate about what's better in your new designs.
- You'll be able to integrate the practices we teach into your existing workflows.
- You'll have new friends to support you, as you practice values-based social design.
- You'll know practices you can teach others, so they too can extend their empathy, imagination, and articulacy.