Hi, Kevin here.

In my recent readings, I noticed an interesting theme in relation to the recent layoffs in Tech, the disillusion of some in the design communities, and the criticisms of our tools as instruments of “our own downfall”.

The many deaths of UX design
How UX was proclaimed dead (again), what do AI and Elon Musk have to do with it, and what poses a real treat to the discipline of design.
Once upon a time, UX was a steaming pile of artisanal crap. Design Systems saved us, but now they need to die.
“Everyone Used to Be a Designer”
While it may seem counterintuitive at first, designers are at least partially responsible for always being included in layoff waves.

The (great) disillusion

For instance, in the article Everyone Used to Be a Designer, the author proposes a review of the state of the (UX) industry, with its fair share of criticisms which admittedly holds on some asperities and seems (incidentally) to be part of a recent wave of "critiques against design tools" in this early 2023.

Disillusion? As the underlying argument goes, some realise what was believed to be good for us (designers) is what ends up participating in our downfall. We all actively participated in commoditizing design to a point where designer X or designer Y or tool Z has no distinguishable differentiation value and companies will simply pick the cheapest (i.e. the tool).

Sounds relevant given the recent events, right? Well, we can agree (at least partially) with this argument, and still disagree with the conclusion. First, we should mind the simplistic reduction to direct causality between what we are seeing and our tools. Yes, some occurrences surely participate in the rapid commoditization of some domains of Design. But the recent layoffs didn't affect only designers, nor are limited to a specific industry. Secondly, it does not necessarily imply “a downfall” or some kind of linear progression towards an “end”. Design and the many different contexts in which it finds itself are in constant (co)evolution.

In other words, there is more to the story.

A Deleuzian perspective

I have recently posted on LinkedIn about Deleuze's philosophy of society. This video summarizes Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze's work on understanding the evolving philosophy of societies and the emergence of what Deleuze call “societies of control”.

What are societies of control?
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/cuck Twitter: https://twitter.com/PhilosophyCuckI will get a better microphone sometime this summer, don’t worry. Working on…
“[To Deleuze] the world is not one of striated spaces, it's a flow, energies, vectors. Everything's always on its way to something else, and control is no different.

You're no longer an individual or a member of a mass of individuals in a space that needs to be disciplined, now instead you are a dividual which means you're a different source of information depending on which system you're interacting with. [...] To a bank, you are your credit score; to a university you are an sat score; to your health insurer you are your genetic risk factors; to [YouTube] you are your watch history [...]”  – Deleuze - Control Societies & Cybernetic Posthumanism
Deleuze - Control Societies & Cybernetic Posthumanism
Deleuze contrasts his “Society of Control” with Foucault’s “Disciplinary Society” in a short essay. I focus on Deleuze’s posthumanist vision of the future, a…

From a Deleuzian perspective, we can understand that the issue isn’t in the tools themselves but the kind of outcomes they help achieve (Deleuze would talk about “desire” here).

From a complex adaptive systems perspective, the relationships in context matter more than the objects themselves. If, say, “Design Systems” (as a tool) can be used as replacements for Designers, they can also be enablers for creativity –this is a context-sensitive property.

Deleuze talks about control as the removal of individuals’ autonomy through the deconstruction of their utility into neatly defined categories, with expected results and therefore expected value –from “individuals” to “dividuals”. The system (society, corporations) appears to provide freedom of choice (and even over-abundance of choice) but this freedom is subjected and reduced to explicit and transactional interactions, mined for data extraction and therefore even more reduction of utility through categorisation. Here the notion of control is not an end in itself but allows the fulfilment of the desire of the assamblages that we inhabit.

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