(Senior Studio) First class reflection

As part of senior research studio, we are beginning to approach areas of wicked problems, social and ecological crises and practices with greater participation. I am excited that we are beginning to learn about transition design in the context of our own bearings of work rather than a more distant and “separate” concept of what exists possibly and at indeterminate reach.

Notions of compound systems, connections, and complexity are strikingly fascinating to me and I feel shamefully relieved that such important concepts resonate enough with me to emerge as even mere interest. Beyond that, it seems crucial to at least consider the circumstances as they are, so to understand my own role in my surroundings regardless of whether or not I feel equipped or assaulted enough to attempt to intentionally contribute change.

While historical deficiency may have only been due to my own restriction in the past, I look forward to what feels like a more encouraging embrace of seeking to reach ‘boundaries’ and extend beyond the constructions to roam in “other” disciplines.

It is restoring to hear that we can not sufficiently resolve matters ourselves, and that it is instead necessary to collaborate with others — however, i’m wary to concede to a position of relying on others as experts in respective curricula whereas I remain only expert in knowing that I am not. I am aware that other people are not the only forces with which we must accommodate our ways of working with, and I would grant that I am, perhaps more than else, somewhat trained in the interest of recognizing consequences — yet I hardly feel confident to make prescriptive decisions on how to change them, not to mention working toward new constructions and especially deciding what ought to be.

This perhaps implies an importance for me to assume an ethos of constraint, to simply “do no harm”, as I don’t think i will personally be able to move much past this point, at least to start. In attempting to resituate my own actions to align with a mindset of embracing possibility rather than certainty, I think i’ll have to be careful not to get too caught up in such a distant view of all possibility to the point where I do not participate in any direct action. A personal challenge is still time management and work efficiency, so I think it will be interesting to approach this learning with a pursuit of motivation besides perceived interest or importance.

On the previous topic of accepting subjects beyond traditional definitions of ‘design’, I am excited to more actively pursue ‘different’ disciplines, though disappointed that in-class encouragement was necessary to prompt me. The direction is hopeful to me in association to ideas like neuroplasticity and self-organization in systems as discussed in the Meadows reading; in this case, understanding how other systems work in order to [in]form the ones I am more intentionally contributing to.

An additional point that comes up in the critical mindset is applying these principles to what seems to be opposing ideological stances, and whether this would yield a great divergence from the dominant ‘liberal’ (to forfeit semantic credence), appearance of transition design. Yet I suspect, as other issues we’ve talked about in class, that these political distinctions which appear oppositional are merely existing at points of the continuum of consequence, and not truly the root causes of the issues they devote their loyalties to proclaim. This too though, seems deceptively obvious, and regardless of the true nature, makes ‘problems’ no easier to decipher.

}I worry that psychologically a ‘distanced’ inclination provides me a fortune of being able to question from afar, whereas there are dire situations and desperate need for more serious consideration of action in individual application.

Class 2 0932017

Today we received topics for the group project and reviewed introductory components of the subjects as well as our own background knowledge. It’s easy for me to fall into sort of idle deliberation, which limits me from accepting information as an actual means of negotiating decisions. I often exclude myself as a component of the subjects I apprehend, but this becomes offensively self-serving, especially being supported to be able to notice my own privilege and contributions. I am not surprised but maybe ashamed to see how little I know, in general and particular, about the issues we discussed in class. I was surprised when my team or I would expect the worst answer on the quiz, to find out it was not the case — especially regarding current efforts and policy approaches to the ‘problems’ considered. The concepts were vague-to-reasonably familiar to me, however, often I hear them in the context of situations that are not currently the case, but which should be, as obvious solutions to an issue. I’m surprised to see those that have actually been in implementation here in Pittsburgh, and dismayed by the fact that I haven’t before bothered to seriously look into what efforts are currently in affair, and go on to question whether or not or why they are working and to what end. In examining these topics in further particular depth, it will be interesting and hopefully informative to take closer note of dominant narratives of a relatively uninformed world of mind, as well as finding contrasting implications and perhaps deeper emerging trends.

Class 3 0962017

Over the weekend, we began mapping relevant contributions to our issue of ‘Access to Quality and Affordable Food’. We started with general research on food deserts and issues of Pittsburgh in particular, setting each issue on a post-it and seeing which common elements emerged. After this initial grouping and once getting all of the preliminary information from the top of our minds, we began to think more deliberately of which other categories we could include, which would serve as further divisions to fill in once our research becomes more thorough. Our map of the problem space ended up including categories of: causes, consequences, areas of concern, related problems, history, food infrastructure, stakeholders, assumptions, existing vs. proposed interventions, and communities affected in PGH. After the class discussion and general evaluation of our boards, we realized that this inclusive approach was making the problem far too wide for us to comprehend and work with. While its true that the issues can be expanded upon and related to other contexts indefinitely, we needed to first wrap our minds around the problem we were trying to assess. For my team, this meant getting rid of all the ‘extra’ categories such as stakeholders and interventions, which contribute to the issue, but will be examined at a further step. For now, we are just looking to label the specific consequences that result from and contribute to further problems relating to food deserts.

One of our initial maps

Weekend Reflection

My team and I did a lot more in-depth research and remapped our problem space to only include the ‘problems’. It was helpful to narrow down the areas we were looking at and categorizing them to STEEP (Social, Technological, Environmental, Economic, Political) categories, yet I still feel like we’re leaving a lot out, especially since a lot of attempted or failed interferences toward specific problems often fail to account for larger issues or connecting domains. Rewording our post-it notes was also helpful for us to better understand our own ideas and at the same time make the work accessible to others who may be viewing it for the first time. We had to change single words like “Education”, which existed as representations of personal understanding, to articulations of the problems themselves, as we understood them.

I was hesitant to narrow our scope to a ‘decent range of problems’ rather than try to see where our own boundaries lie in terms of what we can relate compellingly to the problem at hand. However, the inability to construct a complete boundary should not restrict us from still attempting to reach far for our connections.

Class 4 09112017

evaluating stakeholders maps
class 6

For the next part of the stakeholder exercise, we split into pairs and took on the persona of one of the stakeholder groups within our topic to prepare a skit for class. Many people brought up their discomfort with the task and our (as a whole) realization of it, as we have not actually spoken with people involved in or affected by these topics, nor do we generally know much beyond stereotypes to guide our speculation about others’ interests and interactions. This concern however, does not seem to have been raised regarding our stance for the project as a whole, which does assume basic premises such as certain circumstances being undoubtedly “wrong”, identifiably bad, with opportunity and even obligation for us to impose ‘solutions’. I do feel ill-equipped to make such judgements about these systems without even superficial knowledge of economics, law, engineering, philosophy, social sciences, etc. As a class, it seems like we are quick to assume a judgement of consequences emerging from simply bad intentions, or non-thoughtful behavior prior to this point. My main understanding of these dynamics stays fairly close to the idea of Western individualism, with concepts like tribalism, dominator vs. partnership cultures, and eurocentric modernism, informing a fragmented apprehension of some driving notions. While it is true that we can trace essentially all of our emerging issues to the challenge of global capitalism, I’m not sure how worthwhile it is to mention that the systems are not just heedless and irrelevant, and a lot of the functions we criticize are precisely those which provide us the fortune to impose our judgements. 
I’m wary to entirely discredit these foundations with accusations of corruption and malice, without acknowledgement of favorable contributions, or adequate knowledge to propose honest alternatives.

I know we are only becoming familiar with the process and are using the tasks as exercises for our own understanding rather than actually trying to ‘solve’ these problems ourselves, however I still would like to continue asking further about our own stances (do we all agree on what is ‘good’?). Still, it does feel arrogant and insincere to question things like this when others endure misery and we could more immediately attempt to either extend ourselves or reduce our own imposition. In terms of the exercise, the main observation I attained was that (I assume) each person’s interest lay mainly in sustaining their own lives. Even if someone is aware of their own contribution toward problematic circumstances for others, they might feel forced by values that are not inherently their own, and maintain a higher priority or urgency to care for their own selves/families before sacrificing their own positions for the sake of a more distant good. This may be too cynical or reduced a view of empathy, but the way we’ve been talking about it, it seems that people just don’t care about problems unless they can be seen as part of their own. It seems like there is only solution in extending ourselves to notice the part of a larger whole, rather than attempting appreciation within separateness.

An interesting point was that our skits were fairly clean while real encounters or discussions by stakeholders could conceivably involve much stronger emotion,language, and physical behavior. While some classmates felt that they better understood/attempted to take on the viewpoint of their stakeholders when tasked to interact with the other stakeholders, unrehearsed — i could also see how people’s viewpoints very much are constructed in isolation and it might be difficult for different groups to even begin interacting with opposing contributors. It is possible that groups could feel unsatisfied with current dynamics, but helpless to consider an alternate possibility than the current system (beyond mere shift in power/resource).

trip to the orchard, with the community dog, time has gone so quick
people are outraged, everything is valid now, what would alan do

class6 09202017

We’ve started to engage in the futures portion of our lesson plan. So far, a lot of it is review from our futures class. The Dator reading was helpful in terms of understanding the type of thinking that underlies parts of the futures frameworks, yet I’m wondering how to think further into some of the given examples.

It took me a while to maybe pinpoint the basis of my response to this paper, but I think I feel wary to accept (or engage in) it fully and immediately due to feelings of logical inconsistency and seemingly inattentive acknowledgment of the topics involved. What I took from it is helpful conceptually: we can act upon our realities with greater directed agency and intent; imagining preferable states of the future is necessary for attaining them; and we can harness strategies to best guide trajectories of success (in attaining future visions).

However, providing for ‘future generations’ which means “all future life, everywhere, and forever — from here to eternity; And not just human life, but all future life of all kinds,” is a burden that requires far greater preparedness and development than mere awareness that we are currently not operating under this ambition.

“So dream — whatever your dream is. If you don’t ever dream, how are you going to make your dream come true?”

Maybe I shouldn’t try to take this piece as more than a goad of enthusiasm for this way of thinking, yet I find myself seeking direction and simultaneously rejecting its prescriptive declarations. There is an attestation of previous existing mindsets which acted to the detriment of future possibility and cultivation of numerous consequences, yet a call to ‘dream — whatever your dream is’. This maybe only reinforces the urgency to consider current actions, though I don’t think I’m so optimistic to believe that introduction of this notion is a reliable method of actualizing it. It is not the case that we can now dream because we are aware that we are able to, whereas our ancestors were not. Past generations did have dreams, and achieved some of them, many of which yielded future-implemented consequences and others (not necessarily distinct from the former) which were simply driven by malevolent will. Even if I were to go so far as to consider consequences unforseen, I’m not certain that exposition would have impelled refrain from pursuit, nor am I convinced by the significance of the comprehension today. We don’t care for future generations that we can’t see in the same way that (some of us) care for our own children, even if an obligation is known. Shifting from a narrow-minded, selfish perspective is an interesting and perhaps noble aspiration, however I feel it must be considered with great rigor and honest investigation into the condition of human nature. The examples of ‘social inventions’ include “Ending Slavery”, “Ending Racial Segregation”, and “Ending Colonialism”, but isn’t it meaningful to consider the prospects that support warrant of these institutions in the first place? Even if they only are considered ‘unintended’ repercussions of alternate pursuits, the effects were not divorced from the era imposing them. Even in ‘ending’ slavery and racial segregation, we are still living with some of the worst features of them. There continues to be just as severe ramifications on social cohesion, and in some way, the suppressed complexion to inflict such atrocities at all. These systems were just as much social inventions as the ‘ending’ of them, both with visions in mind, and it seems almost disrespectful to reduce such circumstances to once accepted inevitabilities, “solved” by judicious thinking. For the addressment of critical afflictions which can generally all be traced to, at best, the consequences of thoughtlessness or disregard, our ‘solutions’ seem to be accepted with perplexing assurance. I am wondering how to more accurately assess results or project evolution of actions we instill, and I notice that I need a more informed understanding of human reception of self and value. Going forward, I want to be careful not to assume what is ‘right’ or ‘good’ based on what is simply not. (However I must be careful and may only pursue this with genuine commitment and active learning).

*i know this isn’t meant as the fully comprehensive or precise/exhaustive authority of futures application to our work with details for which refutation is needed, but it is helpful for me to think in this way to engage in the content and find which areas I can apply or aggress, to see if I can gain a better understanding of which notions can be further refined or possible venues to pursue.


time vs space,

Here are some other takeaways from the Dator reading:

The Black Hat is “the caution hat.” “Think of a stern judge wearing black robes who comes down heavily on wrong-doers. The black hat prevents us from making mistakes, doing silly things, and doing things which might be illegal. The black hat is for critical judgment. It points out why something cannot be done or why it will not be profitable.” “The black hat is very valuable but overuse of it can be a problem.

I definitely tend to wear the black hat most often, which is sometimes helpful in negotiating boundaries, but certainly inhibits the area of creative thinking.

humbling incomprehension

II. Any useful idea about the futures should appear to be ridiculous.
— Because new technologies permit new behaviors and values, challenging old beliefs and values which are based on prior technologies, much that will be characteristic of the futures is initially novel and challenging. It typically seems at first obscene, impossible, stupid, “science fiction”, ridiculous. And then it becomes familiar and eventually “normal.” 
 — Thus, what is popularly, or even professionally, considered to be “the most likely future” is often one of the least likely futures

I think this was the most important takeaway for me to keep in mind when I work on considering future contexts through my work, however, I am uncertain about how to go about thinking with ideas that are so far away from what we currently know that they would seem ‘ridiculous’. I am feeling increasingly that my imagination is limiting me, or my current and prevailing disposition tends to limit my imagination — perhaps a priority for security, harmlessness, or awareness and regret at my own ignorance within knowable realms. I think, for now, I should start by exploring current existing things (ideas/factions of knowledge/current or past events…), that are not known [or known well] to me, even if already recognized in the world. I would also be interested in seeking for ridiculous notions, yet I am less aware of where to start (or how to even attempt to consider something that should be, if sufficiently ‘ridiculous’, inconsiderable). To a different thought, even though this would not address the issue of sufficient absurdity; I am reminded that if I were to venture deep enough into any certain domains, I suspect I would likely find concepts or terms that, in their specificity, may suggest more incongruous whims, offer contrast to my current understanding, or potentially be interesting to apply to a separate task at hand.

I. “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”
Another reference to Marshall McLuhan, reminds me to revisit his work and maybe especially look into comprehension of place and standing based on conception of language.

“boldly go where no one has gone —” .. We’ve discussed that much of problems we’re facing today have come from a mindset of growth or endless progress, no matter or oblivious to what the consequences may be. I’m not sure how truthfully this applies, but I had thought that what we were talking about in class suggested to look to what has already worked, in nature or across history/cultures, without automatically striving for invention of new. This quote could just work to imply ‘new’ ways of approaching [design] process, such as considering what already works, but when I was reading the article, I had the impression that it was still implying solving problems under this same (initial) view of progress. Another important point to me was the list at the end of the reading which catalogued all the disciplines a futurist must include (by working with experts in fields, if not personally proficient?). This reflects requirements in a similar way to Vitruvius’ architect, and I see why each component may be crucially informative to the issue being worked with. The reading was perhaps just recording all as relevant concerns, however I had trouble just accepting the information in that format. If the futurist must be an ethicist, or at least work with ethicists, how do we still move forward with a single mindset of innovation? I see this in contrast to notions of appreciation or maintenance, sustaining what already exists. We do not own the elements or entities we aggrieve; ‘the Earth’ and its constituents, beyond the human ones, are not ours to possess or protect, but perhaps, only us? It seems currently impossible to truly believe a concept that either transcends or dissolves the current boundaries which foster our perception of ‘other’ in relation to a complete self. Presently, it is conceivable that this could perhaps exist as a notion for exploration, in short-term and individual instances rather than a persistent and majority-oriented pursuit.

To comment on the way we’ve been talking about empathy in class- I’ve tended to register our deliberations as suggesting that we need to extend ourselves to include the grievances of others, as separate, but also part of our own. Previous associations have led me to contrast instances of noticing others’ occasions with a more impactful basis of identifying with what could be other (what do we identify as ourself? I had noted this topic initially, I believe, having in mind a note for potentially ideal conception of empathy that accounts for this identifying, as opposed to what I had previously accepted as essentially noticing, and possibly understanding contexts outside of our own. I think, I have gone back to not proposing empathy as such, and instead am more interested, in this case, with the distinction between empathy and compassion. I think empathy is helpful in understanding our place with more distant others, such as when we come into contact with very separate civilizations or cultures to our own, however, in terms of addressing misfortune or distress, it may be more beneficial to learn and think in terms of compassion. I have also, in previous considerations of the (re)orienting of the perception of ‘self’, come to understand notions of expanding conception of our ‘in-group’ to include other people and living beings, (which Dator mentions), however this seems too far a notion to comprehend in genuine application, and the property of the concept of distinction itself will persist – there will always be an out-group for identity to exist. This is not to suggest rather returning to what used to be a more confined awareness of individual exertion, reducing the value and therefore power of the individual by associating with the general community or tribe of which one is a part, although I think it is an interesting distinction to make. I’ve lost the source which inspired this thought, though would like to look further into the difference between expanding or reducing the image of alliance and allegiance, and the evolution of the perception of self. Meadows’ display of leverage points and solutions as counterintuitive provide a frame for investigation too: we assume we need to expand ourselves, yet such continuous expansion in past has given us the false recognition of immensity and power of individuals, resulting in the precise mindset of domination and survival that is the cause of so much destruction we are trying to avoid. We could aim to instead revert, (assuming its even possible once having obtained such a conception of selfhood), to an affinity more similar to the role of other species, however this may still inspire [violent/discriminatory]tribalism, a sole imperative of survival (and reproduction), and may perhaps undermine the unique significances of human self-consciousness. 
— -

Growth Scenario/Timeline (Ideal Future)

I am glad that we’re trying to think about this next step, but maybe not very certain in my success engaging with the content or process thus far. It is difficult to try to think of scenarios that exist outside of what we currently know. I am perhaps feeling the futility of these exercises when I am aware that the ‘real’ states of futures exist beyond my capacity, and that the bounds of what I am personally able to conceive, do not extend very far. I feel that my imagination has been somewhat limited, yet I do find myself being able to expand upon others’ ideas with further knowledge or connection to the notion in other contexts (familiar to my personal understandings). A lot of the arenas I come to in thinking about future transformation tend to be framed in the context of neuroscience and advancements/revisions of knowledge that is currently not well understood regarding human functionality. I do think pursuit of this development will have substantial implications on many of the topics we discuss, and I find it interesting that our conceptions of this domain reinforce the notions of individuality, while also offering opportunity for potential ‘remedy’ of care, through altering/evolving perception of self and other. It is also interesting that the research works, or at least contributes toward many ends of our projections, yet the entire foundation of animal testing seems to directly oppose whats being posited as more preferable ideologies including respect and virtue for all living things. Under a completely homogenous viewpoint of transition design, I’m not sure how much this would be considered a dishonest method not worth pursuing– I think however, it is most likely framed in our current understanding of human vs. animal consciousness and a greater urgency of suffering that would benefit from being addressed. Also, performing tests (possibly with benevolent conditions) may best be the way to arrive at technologies where any ‘living’ entities are no longer needed and interruption of suffering may be fostered for both humans and other species at a wider scale. Though I don’t think it is generally seen this way or possible to apply at any entirety, things like this could be short-term sacrifice for a calculated future assurance of general and necessary well-being (assuming that we cannot afford the wait).

— -

I find myself continuing to raise the concern that I don’t know much about the world, therefore feel ingenuine/irresponsible trying to discuss it, however I am also not really making many attempts to inform myself further (beyond meager introductions to foundational topics in classes). I’m not sure how to best approach exposing myself to topics unknown, for the reason that I am not aware of that which I am currently not [aware of]. This is not to mean topics I am not knowledgable about, but perhaps the best way to start attempting this in a more serious manner is to actively pursue content contradictory to my natural inclinations (or in opposition to the perspective), as well as diving deep into particular subjects, so to come across new terms and concepts that may lead to further routes of interest, or relation and stronger acquaintance to notions with which I am already somewhat familiar. Maybe this is just the concept of learning, but I do tend to stagnate, when given the chance.

Over the past week we’ve mapped the ‘3 Horizons’ spread, to outline declining trends, emerging mindsets/practices, and tensions that arise between the two as our futures evolve. Having outlined an initial ‘ideal’ expanse of a future, we are practicing backcasting in hopes to identify necessary opportunities to allow for the changes we propose. Over the weekend, we organized the events and trends onto a timeline, as an attempt to better understand which parts flow from others and what may be missing. Mapping the elements onto a temporal span was helpful in revealing to us which parts emerged suddenly and needed more context or understanding of a catalyst that could support plausibility for its emergence.

One thing i realised after listening to other groups and assessing our own process, is that we had very general events on our timeline without specific details, or sometimes we would point out the difference from our current society, yet fail to provide an imagined structure in its place. We essentially only reiterated the ‘problems’ but couldn’t, or didn’t come up with examples of how a future would exist without those as norm. Also, in only addressing problems, we didn’t consider any elements for future implementation that may be only ‘good’ or fun, or exist beyond correction of consequence. I do believe this has value and perhaps creativity is a strength we may have as designers, but it would nonetheless allow us to more accurately grasp a representation of plausible effects from current trends. One of my classmates mentioned that many of our ideal futures included the same general scenarios of paradigm shifts as well as themes of what should exist in the ideal state. It was brought up to comment on the fact that we maybe have had similar experiences or cultural understanding to come to these similar conclusions. While I agree that we are currently in a place, being together at university, which requires some significant shared status of socio-economic mobility, cognitive fortune, and simple luck — we do have quite vast differences in culture and experience which should, I think, account for valid diversity in our approaches. I feel that it is more likely that we came to these similar and few conclusions because of what we have heard thus far in terms of transition design, and are assuming a mindset that certain and definite concepts are ‘right’ or at least necessary to enact. If this is the case, it enforces for me the importance of fostering more active imagination, and I’m wondering what other ways we can go about this practice.

oct 8 2017:

After revising our timeline, we identified ‘seeds’ necessary to motivate events of our ideal future, and assessed them in the framework of simultaneous needs by Manfred Max-Neef. This week, we chose some of the events on our timeline and are proposing 6 ideas for interventions that could work towards providing opportunities for our preferable goals to be realized (or at least support mindsets and behaviors that work toward those directions).

I have acknowledged, somewhere early in this process that we are not trying to make solutions, rather identifying opportunities to make better decisions and if possible, attempting to tweak the contexts which support current harmful ones (decisions; mindsets/behaviors).

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — - — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — -

interested in: inspiring awe, perception change, personal experience .. empathy? limit — between in -out groups, not possible so where? AI — in determining, calculated, figure non-existence is preferable. are we expanding or contracting? reduction to simpler view ( or past mindsets) — is shrinking rather than expanding. what implications does this have on rest of our perception of well-being? contact with the cosmos.

  • was there a period of history (is history eradicated/) ( past events are passed , completely different times now) .. where mindset would be considered good? good enough? how does it change with today. reflect universalism. we speak of empathy as a general good, but anlyse further? what is the true nature and while were considering implications, lets look at them in a (perhaps least) sufficient way.
  • suppressing collective emotion- denial, not come into contact or subconsciously only with human imposed tragedy, evil? — investigate.. we a re mourning as a whole. human collective bereavement , how to mourn ? process.. its not a matter of awareness’ because it means more than contact, synthesis, or grip on the concept. we are in denial, even having re)watched evidence of assault. what defines of accept? awareness?

-shadow, turin hrse
- muntjac deer 
- poetic encounter

what does identification of the larger system mean for our interventions? is implementing compost only treating the symptom rather than the cause? should** we be treating the cause? how in design can we? it seems to me to be about changing mindsets and action, as a result, (in some cases other way around, first to go through the motions then understand implications over less urgent span of time), though i do get stuck here because i know what seems to be good or the most ideal solutions are often not, and things are not just simple. first, we’re not built for universalism. not to function in that way. and, suppressing the shadow, we will make it grow even more disastrous for inevitable release upon a victim? also, we need structure, or else can never navigate the chaos. for there to be order (define), there is inherent inequality, for we need hierarchy in order to understand boundaries between concepts and feelings and construct an understanding of our place in it. even our perception of self is an illusion, one that presupposes many of these if not all, problems. yet, the solution is surely not dissolution of all self — which first of all is probably not possible for a very long time, and may only be [preferable in periodic transience. it is not desirable or beneficial for people to be like that all of the time. instead of freedom, we need responsibility?perhaps a most valuable thing is providing opportunity for transcendence more readily available for each person (though does often happen within the lifetime). also, necessity of difference. to converse, learn from [each] other, support environments in which we are able to have our perspectives changed and build a more sophisticated conception of reality. what is a realistic ideal?

-maybe, ending suffering before happiness or well-being, without such loyal comprehension to the concept so to eradicate existence altogether.

-We are very unlikely to agree on what moral values are “best”, and even if we agree we are unlikely to get it right. Instead, we should be compensating for our known biases that are known to give rise to injustice and misery, in this case tribalism. That is the best we can hope to do, and it has the potential to be transformative of the human condition.

[T]he basis of sympathy lies in our strong retentiveness of former states of pain or pleasure. Hence, “the sight of another person enduring hunger, cold, fatigue, revives in us some recollection of these states, which are painful even in idea.” We are thus impelled to relieve the sufferings of another, in order that our own painful feelings may be at the same time relieved.

“from the power of the imagination and of sympathy we put ourselves in the position of the sufferer.” It is clear that in his use of the word sympathy he was referring to an individual “feeling into” the emotional state — or taking the perspective of — another individual as was meant by the German word Einfühlung

A second factor is resource dependence; there must be a perceptible threat of resource depletion, and it must be difficult to find substitutes. The third is the presence of a community; small and stable populations with a thick social network and social norms promoting conservation do better.[43] A final condition is that there be appropriate community-based rules and procedures in place with built-in incentives for responsible use and punishments for overuse. When the commons is taken over by non-locals, those solutions can no longer be used. (tragedy of the commons)

healthy perspective on one’s ego. If you start from the premise that being born into this conscious life is a gift, it seems like you can only do your best, and ‘best’ seems to be a moving target.

savage law of the universe in a related sense, in that we have obviously not been designed by evolution to understand our circumstance in any deep sense. our common sense intuitions are applicable within the domain of hurling rocks in parabolic arcs at one another and moving at the speed at which apes move, so when you get into the very small in physics or the very large in cosmology, our intuitions are obviously at odds with what were discovering to be true and i think that may be true with the brain, its certainly true with the significance of information processing or even the fact of information processing is a thing that can be studied; so our intuitions about what is interesting also, is part of that picture. max tegmarc cosmology — its not only not surprising that


Having spoken with some of my classmates, I’ve noticed that a common concern, still surfacing at different rates and magnitude, is to express observation of the fact that we are ineligible to impose arbitration or any prescriptive opinions on these sorts of problems, due to the fact that we don’t know enough about particular and collective contributing factors. While this is a worry I am personally quick to assume, hearing this from others deters me from surrendering value to the notion.(in the most benevolent way that could be interpreted). It is true that infinite complexity can be applied to any domain, and is perhaps most conveniently discernible at this large a scope; but it is impossible to fathom the significant circumstance of any angle of circumstance, and visibility of this should not imply conceding to immobility as a practical next step. Though it is obviously intellectually enticing to submit credence to this trick; acknowledging that there is more involved than what we currently know should provide ipso facto imperative to navigate the realm as best we can within the bounds of our cognitive indigence, in the hopes and assumption that we can know more, at some point (based on the premise that there is more than we currently know. ) I don’t believe any of us is seriously suggesting that we should not move forward with decisions until we know everything there is to ever potentially know between the infinitesimal and magnificent calculations of the cosmos, but perhaps we do feel a nature of consequence and fear the possibilities of uninformed imposition into such sincere domains of society. Yet, in seriously considering even a basic possession of the circumstance, it is obvious that our role in such crucial systems allows so insignificant interferences [in the form of thoughtful “solutions”]. It might be more worthwhile to analyze current responses and decisions in terms of implications, rather than try to create solutions to deficiencies of all past corruption. In keeping both in mind, we might find that a solution may simply only serve to undermine another, more harmful one, or in providing something so radical, obsolesce previous acceptances of ‘the norm’. Essentially, viewing as not so much a matter of correcting destruction, but first just releasing us from our dependency on [certain] destructive practices , by offering alternate possible behaviors. This description is not to posit any new perception on (transition) design, but simply a means of allowing me figure out which concepts I am grasping.

Morality cowardice — nietzsche. As a way to proceed, I could consider the (conceptual) possibility that we crave responsibility, as opposed to freedom, and must therefore impose guidelines and constraints as a means of operating in the space. This is not to suggest that we should accept a position of boundedness as permanent security of certain rights, with necessary stasis within the domain. Rather, if I can come to particular terms and strategy for negotiating progress of understanding within areas of the problem space/domain, I can also operate in distinct clarity outside of those bounds, allowing a freedom of imagination and hopefully wider range of abstract relation, only to be subjected to practicality and consequence at (later) stages.

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Further Interests

We have picked 6 of our interventions, 3 from social innovation and 3 service design, and placed them on a new poster as topics we would be interested to investigate further. I am interested in some of the food starting points such as the composting system and looking at exposing systems or providing opportunity for education or idleness; however, I also want to talk to other groups or see how the topics may work together for similar goals. My main interests probably lay within the domain of mindset/posture and exploration into how we may go about changing perception, or providing opportunities to become aware of oneself amidst everyday courses.

I’ve had few conversations with other groups or classmates about possible projects. I talked to Adella for some time, which was helpful for me to better understand the aspects of this work that I am focusing on, and which areas are still difficult for me to articulate or converse about with others. I know I am interested in personal awareness of perception shift and instances to potentially create that could inspire awe, insight, or momentary bliss, even within wearisome situations. The opportunity for design in this is to orient our (producing) awareness toward creating contexts under this intention, and trying to provide necessary circumstances which would contribute to the possibility of serendipitous collision, in varying arenas. Two interesting and similar points to keep in mind are: 1) verifiable engagement/ reception of stimulus in ‘real’ world results in physical change of structure of brain. “Going through the motions” or attending to behavior first could make someone more receptive to appreciation or understanding of why certain gestures are preferred. ‘Care’ for the notion alone, may not have to come first. 2) Self-perception theory — people develop attitudes after observing their own behavior and concluding what attitudes make sense to have caused it. We may induce attitudes without accessing internal cognition. In designing our intervention points or contexts in which people would engage with them, we can take this into account and attempt to offer as much chance for one to engage in processes which may suggest presence of [sustainable] attitudes, whether or not they were existing leading up to interaction. Having written these points, I realize that they are actually the same idea, and perhaps I don’t have adequate knowledge of the first angle in order to distinguish a concept for approach. This could be an area to look into but has more to do with current understanding of brain (structure) and implications for opportunities to leverage knowledge and uncertainty. [Auditory system, adapts to receive certain stimuli — informs what is processed]. The essential point is that our perception of the world is much more subjective than we generally care to consider, and there is presumably ample possibility to either expose, or alter, our ‘reality tunnels’.

class, conversations 10/25

In class, we had more time to talk to others about our interests and possible concepts for project. Aside from the actual intervention ideas, the concepts I have been reaching toward apply at a broader level to all topics. My interests for further exploration include mainly, the mindsets brought to behaviors and varying methods for transformation.

The new group that I have joined includes Selena Norman, Jake Scherlis, Treat Swarstad, and myself. We are joining the topics of Transportation (Lena & Treat), Gentrification (Jake), and Food Insecurity (me). The initial idea for our project concept is linking community members with local resources via transportation systems to patronize local businesses, cultivate community values, and support access to local quality and affordable food options. A first pass idea for instantiation is an example of a cross-platform bus card (and bus system) that is connected with local businesses so that users receive either reduced fare or some sort of reward accretion in correlation to their participation at local services. The bus as a place of juncture could serve as a point to offer information as to what resources are available, actions encouraged, and options for effect one has to contribute to the community. There is also an idea of making the effort visible and identifiable through icon(s) that indicate a measure of the service, or its involvement with the system.

Group meeting 10/29

For our first group meeting, we discussed our previous group topics, the general problem space, stakeholders, and main focus points that led to our initial intervention ideas. The obvious problems that led to our respective interventions were: lack of access to food, through few locations, high prices, and inaccessible/unreliable transportation; displacement and disjuncture in communities; and unsustainable transit systems, oriented toward narrow-sighted goals and restricted populations. Common themes that emerged in our understanding of these topics as well as our interest/approach for them were: 
-connecting groups of people
-offering chances for understanding (education to reveal choice; impact)
-allowing for multiple groups to be involved, and aware of their agency

A point to consider again is that, common to all our stakeholder relations, while some groups priorities or ‘agenda’ directly opposed others, all existed to support self-interest, not necessarily of malicious intent or to immediately harm others. In attempting to promote community care and harmonious relations, whether or not distanced from impact, it could be interesting to explore this area of value and find a way to restructure evidence in a way that either reveals shared values, or explains higher-level community commitments in a way that appeals to personal values. On the idea of sharing, we are trying to both physically enable sharing of resources (shared services), as well as fostering a sense of shared ownership, in a more conceptual domain. This is the essential idea of a transport system, branded to promote community. The largest difficulties currently contributing to these issues are mainly political, economic, wide-scale, and deep-seated. The PGH Port Authority is millions] of dollars in debt, and restructure of the system often means people who need it most are not a valuable enough source to require its presence. Communities are often reduced to being defined by economic class, which largely leads to racial divide and enforces strict boundaries, hard to surmount. Our goals are to foster common values, prevent displacement, and retain identity within communities. We need to investigate further:
-what are current values?
-what are ideal values of (this) community?

It is a matter of everyone being involved in order to maintain harmony, not only those who rely on the option (of public transportation). We can look into cultural values of use, in order to explore means of incentive to use public transit, especially when one doesn’t need to. A consideration is that the system is also unreliable and sometimes inconvenient, and the physical infrastructure definitely needs to be stable in order for people to trust it as a valid navigation asset. It is a difficult system to attempt to intervene in, because there is a cycle of the system needing to restructure, but not having enough users, which means money that could grant the necessary work. Our entry point right now is trying to make public transportation more appealing and trustworthy for those who may not currently participate. Another angle of value to consider is the Port Authority. Currently, they must reach to where they will receive funding. Is there possibility/feasibility in attempting to reframe their values as well? Considering priority of general well-being and weighing short-term cost for longer benefit. Also, not just accepting displacement as a necessary cost. For each of the stakeholders there must be incentive — what is each constituent getting from it?

Class 10/30

We’ve gone through more specific interrogation of which research questions we’d like to explore, and how our project may manifest in form and approach. A large difficulty I perceive is attempting to inspire care, or change the way people currently [think about] value. It would be interesting and probably most intelligent to try to connect our ideal outcomes with current habits and mindsets. For example, connecting already popular bus stops with information or access to the local businesses, rather than trying to get people to go out of their way to reach the preferable options. In terms of mindset, we are trying to cultivate value for community contribution and support for local businesses, yet on another side, should also investigate changing mindset about barriers to entry or inconvenience of participation. What do people currently feel is inhibiting their engagement or makes it difficult/undesirable to maintain? Are there incentives for Port Authority besides money? Another aspect of mindset goes back to concepts I’ve mentioned earlier such as self-awareness and neurological basis of behavior. We can try to provide opportunities for people to feel good about their decisions/contribution, as well as have them engage in behavior that suggests contribution after the fact. In terms of deliverables, we are thinking of the physical space of the bus, the network between transit and local services, the identity of artifacts involved, and points of communication to further inform current participants in the system, as well as invite/engage outside residents to begin participation. Other aspects could include community building in general, events to promote collaboration and conversation, to offer opportunity for mutual awareness of other and possibly emergence of shared values.

Reflection 10/30

stakeholders involved

major problems

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