Weapons of Mass Understanding for Computational Design

In a set of buildings that once comprised weapons factory in Saint-Étienne, France, the Design Biennale is being readied. I find it ironic, and fitting, that the site of where weapons of mass destruction were made, that it could also be a place to distribute weapons of mass understanding — a.k.a. “design.”

Weird indoor space at Saint-Étienne that feels like outdoors.

The connection between understanding and design is something that Richard Saul Wurman has done the best job a situating within his lifetime body of work. He’s contributed the most on the topic through his voluminous media interviews on the topic,

Recently conversation has been focused upon the catch phrase “big data” as the next big thing in communication. I think that is nonsense. The next big thing is understanding. “Big data” is data with zeros after it. It’s a number, it’s not understanding. Big understanding is not big data. You only understand something relative to something you already understand. Understanding is what it is all about.

Richard Saul Wurman (2017)

And his recent book is entirely on this topic too, entitled UnderstandingUnderstanding.

3D photo of where the “Design in Tech” exhibition will be up starting March 20, 2019.

At the Saint-Étienne Design Biennale, I’ll be going deep with the Automattic Design team and Google Material Design team on sharing our latest understandings about the world of design and tech and computational design. It’ll open on March 20, 2019 and I’m excited to see what we will all learn there together. —JM

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