Design Thinking and Social Change

| November 27, 2011

Clay Shirky’s recent publication, Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age, provides a number of critical insights for thinking about the relationship between participatory technologies and social change. In this accessible but provocatively argued book Shirky provides a historical context for reflecting on (largely Western) society’s changing relationship with the mass media—defined here in its broadest terms. In doing so he argues that due to current technological innovations ‘we’ no longer just consume media but also produce it. This shift opens up a critical space for new forms of participatory action and social organizing to emerge. But the ultimate outcome of this growing movement is still undetermined and thus it is paramount that we develop a language for critically analyzing and talking about design, technology, and social change. Consequently, Shirky outlines a number of important concepts and analytical frameworks talking about design and politics.

Clay Shirky (2010) Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age. New York: The Penguin Press.