last week torch partnership and sLab hosted the latest edition of the unfinished business lecture series, and we were treated to a robust and inspiring presentation by gong szeto, a new mexico-based designer. recently, gong has been designing derivatives trading platforms for financial services, and his hyperacute knowledge of these systems has inspired a unique perspective towards design, as revealing the meta layers of economics, politics, etc, and the implications around an emerging set of ethics relating towards the products, services and systems we design. As bruce nussbaum wrote last year – did innovation cause the crisis on wall st?
gong gives good reason to believe this, and more importantly, frames why. the blurb from the talk is here as is the slideshow, but be sure to check his notes on slideshare.
What implications does the current global economic crisis have for Design? For Gong Szeto the answers lie in understanding how design has evolved over the last 100 years in parallel with capitalism. We are in the midst of a global economic crisis, one whose contours are barely understood, even by today’s leading minds. This crisis reveals the very underpinnings of how our world works, and it is the story of finance (a classic tragic comedy) and its colossal role in the development of modern society.
Design, the myriad ways it is practiced and consumed, owes its very existence to the thriving of a capitalist political economy. Design cannot claim primacy in this system, but is, instead, a shadow or derivative of the priorities of supply-side and demand-side economics.
Billionaire Warren Buffett has called financial derivatives “weapons of mass destruction.”. Gong Szeto will demonstrate the powerful properties and dynamics of derivatives in financial world, and apply this framework to understanding Design’s origins and future possibilities. He will try to make the case that Design’s complex derivative nature, if better understood, can be combined with the powerful emerging attributes of massively shared social web platforms, and proactively insinuated in a (post) capitalist political economy, taking shape as “weapons of mass possibility.”