Hey! I’m Simon, Design Lead at IF, here to deliver the month notes. I joined the studio last year in November, so I’ve included items that have helped my on-boarding to IF.

I’ve learnt…

A lot about the ideas and theory that has shaped IF’s ways of thinking. Some recommendations from the studio:

Ursula M. Franklin, “The Real World of Technology”, recommended by Sarah, our CEO and Founder.

Focused on the large-scale impact of technology on culture and society, Dr. Franklin’s lecture series is as relevant today as it was 20 years ago. If you only have time to read one of these texts, read this one (side note: the book makes an excellent commuting read).

Alastair Parvin, “A New Social Contract”, recommended by Eliot, Head of Projects, and David, Designer.

In this series of 4 articles, Alastair covers large shifts in the sociocultural landscape. He details how our political systems are failing to adapt, and recommends methods of addressing these issues.

Rachel Coldicutt, “Tech ethics, who are they good for?” recommended by the studio.

A short but important piece highlighting the problems with ethics principles. Not understanding the power balance or political bent of the authors leads to incomplete picture of their meaning.

I’ve been working on…

Formalising our design and creative practices at Projects by IF.

We’ve written a lot about our approach and mentality when it comes to designing for good data practices (i.e. Design to explain what you’re doing with data). We’ve also published several case studies about our completed work (i.e. Using housing data for good: IF and Homes England). But how do we as a studio approach these difficult problems to arrive at these solutions?

It’s all work-in-progress right now. Capturing these methods into tools that are easy to understand and apply is the end goal. It’ll be on-going and ever-expanding, but we’ll publish our outputs and process when we have them.

I’ve been thinking about…

How we establish a vision and a voice at IF.

In January, we participated in an offsite with the wonderful Jim Ralley, who led us through a series of activities to better understand our vision at IF. We built with LEGO bricks. We had meaningful discussions about values. We also sang?

And now it falls to us to convert those into actions, rituals, and visions. It’s a challenging but rewarding task, but all of us here feel strongly about our potential to effect change in the world.

A little blurry, but us building our interpretations of IF. You can just see the world crab, claw and all, up top.

Voting technologies

Our relationship with voting systems is complicated. It goes beyond technology, extending trust, understanding, political motivations, and prejudices.

It’s also worth understanding how and why many places, like the UK, have resisted using voting technologies and still vote with pen and paper.

I’ve appreciated…

It’s Nice That’s first Preview of the Year: 2020, where there’s a lot of speculation across creative industries. I particularly enjoyed the hope for the return of the weird web and an article on de-homogenising the creative industry.

Katya Dorokhina for It’s Nice That

As a relatively new London transplant, I’ve discovered the wonders of reading on the tube. A solid, uninterrupted 35 minutes to disappear into David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas? Or Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall? I’ve already missed my stop once.

Also, how versatile is this new sea otter emoji?

Until we post again!