Design Discourse

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= What stories do we tell about the design of digital technologies?


Sasha Costanza-Chock:

"Stories have power. For example, contrast the ‘official’ Twitter origin story (one of the founders had a brilliant blue-sky flash of genius) with counternarratives from developers who were part of the process (anarchist activists created the demo design for Twitter as a tool to help affinity groups stay one step ahead of the cops in the NYC Republican National Convention actions of 2004; see Siles, 2013). The key point is that innovation in media technology, like all technological innovation, is an interplay between users and tool developers, not a top-down process. Social movements, in particular, have always been a hotbed of innovation in media tools and practices, in part because of the relationship between the media industries and social movement (mis)representation. Social movements, especially when led by marginalized communities, are systematically ignored and misrepresented in the mass media, so movements often form strong community media practices, create active counterpublics, and develop media innovations out of necessity (Downing, 2000). Many social movement media innovations are later adopted by the journalism profession and by the broader cultural industries, although stripped of their original counterhegemonic intent. Examples include Indymedia and CNN iReports, TxtMob and Twitter, and DIY livestreams from DeepDish TV to Occupy (GlobalRevolution, Timcast) to Periscope and FaceBook Live. We have to tell these stories, so that our contributions to the history of technology development aren’t erased." (

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