Talk by Laura Devendorf: Designing Unstable Technology for Unstable Futures


Tuesday, August 22, 2017, 4pm-5pm
Center for HCI, Studio 3
Jakob-Haringer-Straße 8


Designing Unstable Technology for Unstable Futures: If there is anything we can know about the future, it is that it is unstable, uncertain, unknowable, and unpredictable. Often, the tendency when designing technologies for the future is to bring the future into the realm of human control, for instance, with bigger data or better predictive models. This talk will describe an alternative “unstable” approach to designing technological things of the future that frames instability as a resource for design, as opposed to a target for technological intervention. While instability can be uncomfortable, it also creates the capacity for hope, curiosity, and meaningful interventions in the world. It can cultivate attention outside of our human bodies and into the broader landscape of human and nonhuman forces that shape reality. By drawing from art, anthropology and engineering, unstable design looks away from instrumental or even traditional “human-centered” approaches for designing technological things, and instead, looks for moments in which technology can challenge, confront, and sensitize humans to vibrant phenomena they may otherwise look past.

Laura Devendorf develops and studies technologies that are volatile to the unpredictability of things, people, and environments. Her designs won’t make you more efficient or productive, but they will foster poetic, slow, curious, and enchanting encounters with the everyday.

Laura is an Assistant Professor in the ATLAS Institute and Department of Information Science at the University of Colorado, Boulder where she directs the Unstable Design Lab. She received her PhD at the School of Information at University of California, Berkeley and has bachelors degrees in computer science and studio art from the University of California Santa Barbara.

Contact: Martin Murer