Morozov set out from the beginning the main territory of his argument, which essentially concerns the increasingly networked relationships between three groups: Designers/ Technologists at Silicon Valley, Policy Makers/Consultancies and the Government.
He argues that these technologists are irresponsibly using new tools such as sensors, big data and ‘gamification’ to intrude on the personal and political environment in ways which have not been fully discussed or considered by the public- morally, emotionally, philosophically. The increasingly central, and, as he would see it, dangerously empowered role designers now have in shaping the world through social media and technological tools, has been encouraged and driven forward both by the directives of neoliberal markets and lazy governments who would rather use quick fix ‘solutionism’ to social problems, than plan and design longer-term infrastructural change.
Morozov appeared to have a uniformly black vision of the role of designers at Silicon Valley (maybe his book presents a more nuanced account?). He painted a pretty dark picture of how facebook, google and other evil forces have used cultures of creativity and design to sustain their market monopolies.
However, he was not pessimistic about the role designers can play in general. Rather he singled out the work of designers in Scandinavia who have employed an emotional approach to design and trigger a more thoughtful and morality-based response to social problems through the Never Hungry Caterpillar extension cord, which tells the user when it has been consuming too much electricity by twisting and contorting in ‘pain’.
I’m looking forward to reading Morozov’s book for a fuller account of some aspects of his paper which I found slightly contradictory- his at times moralistic and reformative attitude to public behaviour and at times quite narrow conception of the role and intent of the designer.
If designers and technologists have become as powerful and central as Morozov suggests, then this book will, I think, be part of an important debate for the design community about the social responsibilities it has in being a positive force for change.