Conference Paper open access publication

Design for Existential Crisis

Association for Computing Machinery (ACM),


DOI:10.1145/3027063.3052760, Dimensions: pub.1085177988,



  1. (1) University of Sussex, grid.12082.39
  2. (2) IT University of Copenhagen, grid.32190.39, ITU
  3. (3) London School of Economics and Political Science, grid.13063.37


United Kingdom





What should designers do with their design skills and orientation to the future as right-wing populism sweeps through politics; climate predictions worsen; mass migration (within/across countries) escalates refugee numbers; new classes of automation threaten workers' jobs and austerity policies destabilize society? What is to be done when it isn't "business as usual" and even broken concepts of progress seem no longer to be progressing? In this paper, we discuss aspects of humanity, such as the need for meaning, fulfillment, dignity and decency, which computers struggle to support but can easily undermine. We juxtapose design that offers hope with that which offers only distraction and conclude with a plea to avoid Bovine Design, or tools that encourage passivity, rote-behavior and a blinkered existence at a time of great uncertainty and change. The big question that alt-chi can ask for 2017 is: What is good design for existential crisis?

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Times Cited: 30

Field Citation Ratio (FCR): 25.89

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Green, Published