• Paul Barnett

Value Sensitive Design & Valueism

Updated: Dec 5, 2020


The concept of value sensitive design (VSD) emerged in the 1990’s and the Value Sensitive Design Lab was founded in 1999 at the University of Washington. Batya Friedman and David G Hendry provide a detailed history of the development of the discipline over the past two decades, bringing together descriptions of the theories, methods and applications in their recently published book, Value Sensitive Design: Shaping Technology with Moral Imagination (The MIT Press, 3rd May 2019). It is a “definitive account of the state of the art in value sensitive design” offering “an essential resource for designers and researchers working in academia and industry, students in design and computer science, and anyone working at the intersection of technology and society”.


This description of what the book promises reflects the fact, “the vast majority of early work in value sensitive design concerned information technology”. Only recently has VSD been applied to non-information technologies and process, and the authors suggest it remains an open question how the theory and methods of VSD will need to be adapted or extended to account for human values in the design process of other non-information technologies.


Having read the book and related it to the concept of Valueism, which I have been developing for the past couple of years, I am certain many of the ideas and insights associated with VSD are going to be valuable to the further development of Valueism and vice-versa. I believe they are also useful in relation to Critical Systems Thinking and practice. Before I explain why I think this, I need to just be clear about the way the term technology is being defined. Read the Full Article

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