Approach to the design of technology that accounts for human values in a principled and comprehensive manner



Approach to the design of technology that accounts for human values in a principled and
comprehensive manner throughout the design process. It employs an integrative and iterative
tripartite methodology, consisting of conceptual, empirical, and technical investigations. We
explicate Value Sensitive Design by drawing on three research and design projects. One project
involves cookies and informed consent in web browsers; the second involves projection technology
in an office environment; the third involves user interactions and interface for an integrated land use,
transportation, and environmental simulation. Designers can do much for a more sustainable
future. Sustainability transitions research and empirical assessment of its course in a specific context
can be used to identify a relevant space-time for different design initiatives. We explore this
reasoning in advancing solar photovoltaics in heritage, where a loss of aesthetic qualities and the
heritage value of buildings may curb where solar arrays are sited. By using the Value Sensitive
Design framework, we illustrate how a working compromise among the seemingly conflicting values
involved can be found. The value mix used and the resulting concept informs solar proponents in
siting solar in culturally sensitive ways and shows the heritage constituency that solar technology
does not categorically mean a misfit with cultural heritage.
Transitions research presents a new kind of context for strategic design engagements.
Anticipating ‘reverse salient’ in system change can point to sites for intervention.
Value Sensitive Design is useful for guiding and concretizing design interventions.
Design visualization for siting solar panels on heritage value buildings is proposed.
Integration of solar panels can be done also in culturally sensitive ways.
Ethics is integral to design in many ways. But design ethics has remained under-developed despite an
increasing relevance in the Anthropocene, when many novel ethical issues and problems are
anticipated to emerge from man-made artifacts and systems. The aim of this article is to revitalize the
discourse of design ethics. Firstly, I define ‘design ethics’ in relation to the distinction between
‘ethics’ and ‘morality’. Secondly and through the perspective of ethics, I draw out new issues and
questions by examining three commonly encountered categories in design, namely, ‘technology’,
‘sustainability’ and ‘responsibility’. Finally, I conclude by suggesting that it is important not to
relinquish the formative potential of ethics for design despite its complexity, or its
ostensible intractability.


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