Critical Engineering Manifesto

I think the most interesting thing about the manifesto wasn’t specifically the paragraphs, but people’s responses on the blog right now. (Mon-11:50pm) It blows my mind to read how almost everyone willingly or unwillingly talked only about smartphones or mobile-devices. (hello – computers, tvs, and internet anyone?) First of all who is “we” – and if the “we” is just a bunch of tech-savvy students, we are more attached to ‘connectivity’ more than our phones. Our phones and computers are attached to the internet to connect us. I think when we’re talking about technology, not mentioning anything else but mobile-devices would be a big mistake.

Technology now is more about the smart-TVs that are internet enabled and equipped with cameras, microphones or even browsers installed on them. So that the data-hungry companies can know what’s being watched, and exploit the users’ interests.

Not a big fan of TVs? Technology can be about your search-engine-powered-driverless car, instead of picking the fastest route, driving you past Dunkin Donuts every morning to advertise their latest latte.

So to me 1, 3 & 7 are pretty much the same thing.

1. The Critical Engineer considers any technology depended upon to be both a
challenge and a threat. The greater the dependence on a technology the greater
the need to study and expose its inner workings, regardless of ownership or
legal provision.

3. The Critical Engineer deconstructs and incites suspicion of rich user
experiences.

7. The Critical Engineer observes the space between the production and consumption
of technology. Acting rapidly to changes in this space, the Critical Engineer
serves to expose moments of imbalance and deception.

These paragraphs to me are perhaps the most interesting ones. Because they’re not specifically addressing the devices/technologies that users depend on the most. It’s talking about the transparent technology as well. The devices/technologies, that users can live without. It’s about the smart-wristwatches or driverless cars, and “smart-things” everyone’s been talking about, or about our favorite social network company releasing a news-aggregator app to squeeze more ads in between the daily digest.

I think critical engineering is not really about shaping the society, but trying to stop technology from deceiving users, and shaping their needs. It’s more about exposing why it’s not always a convenience or a choice, but abundance. Or maybe it’s about exposing why we can’t choose not to send data. The reason I wrote all about data is because sadly each device we buy, adds another medium for anyone, any company that needs more data to survive. We’re slowly becoming data-cows. I think critical engineering can stop this from happening, and hopefully would encourage more people would read the terms of service.

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One thought on “Critical Engineering Manifesto

  1. “I think the most interesting thing about the manifesto wasn’t specifically the paragraphs, but people’s responses on the blog right now. (Mon-11:50pm) It blows my mind to read how almost everyone willingly or unwillingly talked only about smartphones or mobile-devices. (hello – computers, tvs, and internet anyone?)”

    I feel puzzled. Engineering is about machines, all sorts, also about constructions like buildings or bridges.. Electronic devices surely are included, as well as all sort of robots, automatic machines, but also manually operatd machines, and things likes cars, bikes etc, even your house with it’s installments. If there is a “critical engineering manifesto”, I would have assumed it to include all fields of engineering.

    Maybe I’m too old school to understand nowadays problems …

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