In Adversarial Design, Carl DiSalvo examines the ways that techlogy design can provoke and engage the political. He describes a practice, which he terms adversarial design, that uses the means and forms of design to challenge beliefs, values, and what is taken to be fact. It is t simply applying design to politics -- attempting to improve governance for example, by redesigning ballots and polling places; it is implicitly contestational and strives to question conventional approaches to political issues. DiSalvo explores the political qualities and potentials of design by examining a series of projects that span design and art, engineering and computer science, agitprop and consumer products. He views these projects -- which include computational visualizations of networks of power and influence, therapy robots that shape sociability, and everyday objects embedded with microchips that enable users to circumvent surveillance -- through the lens of agonism, a political theory that emphasizes contention as foundational to democracy. DiSalvo's illuminating analysis aims to provide design criticism with a new approach for thinking about the relationship between forms of political expression, computation as a medium, and the processes and products of design.
Carl DiSalvo is Assistant Professor of Digital Media in the School of Literature, Communication, and Culture at Georgia Institute of Technology.