Please continue to hold
Vol. 3 | Issue 7 | May 2022
Thoughts, or something like it
Fragments of what I wanted to write about are scattered on papers, in digital and analogue notebooks, and in my head when I say to myself “I will write this down” but then I don’t and I forget. It’s a bad habit and I bought a reporter’s notepad that is always on hand to keep me from doing it. It’s kind of working, and this post is an attempt at piecing together random notes of the past few weeks together.
I’m not a “podcast person.” When iTunes released podcasts way back when iTunes was a thing and podcasts were not, I was obsessed. That's because many podcasts were just mixes of great music by awesome DJs (think Mixcloud). I never enjoyed talk radio (which I associated with annoying Canadian Conservatives on AM stations), so podcasts that were not about me discovering music but had people with annoying nasally voices talking just did not interest me. I do, on occasion, usually through a recommendation, listen.
Podcasts are now sponsored, and are transformed into sleek TV shows with crazy budgets about all too recent histories. The podcast hosts take a break to remind you who is funding it. These hosts talk about subjects many have no knowledge in (except for the obligatory internet “deep dive” ending between pages 3-6 on Google). And they laugh a bit too hard at dark stories, but not in a this is deliberate dark humour type of way. The hosts are 30-something millennials who subscribe to the "hustle hard, hustle harder” mantra and always drop how they do this show alongside their full time jobs. I've been there. I am the millennial generation that helped spawn this culture; the one that praises the neoliberal do what you love mentality entrepreneur that fosters precarity. But this is not a healthy trait my generation passes onto the next.
Everything is now paid for or by subscription, even online therapy apps (or subscription boxes!). Let it all be monetised. Several years ago, I discussed the dangers of subscription services and everyone thought I was just hating on a convenience. Tell me how it's convenient to devote so much of your salary on one too many services that are not worth the price, and devote so much of your free time to watching endless – sometimes good but mostly mediocre – entertainment.
With monetisation of everything comes metrics and performance indicators. The easiest form of measurement is the survey. These services chase you down, sending you reminders like a LinkedIn profile page you thought you deleted years ago. The only time I actually wanted to give my “feedback” was about a physiotherapist who proceeded to ask me where I was really from because some races have flat feet and others have more curved and arched feet, so that explains my ankle problems. I waited three months for this appointment after a serious injury and practically fully healed by the time I saw the incel vibes physio. I'm still waiting to provide my feedback.
Via New Yorker Cartoons
Are surveys trying to make up for this “we thank you for your patience. Please know we are experiencing higher than usual wait times. Please use our website [which doesn’t work]” culture we live in now? Ridiculous processing times for things that really do not take that long. I mean if your whole business is insurance, why does it take so long to process a claim when that’s your main service? Do you literally have one person working there? What's worse is that bad service has actually become even worse (in London at least). You walk into a shop and the people who are meant to be experts know nothing. Shopkeepers who can’t tell you a thing about what they are selling, even when they own the place. We are asked to rate a service that has gradually gotten worse, so where’s the feedback going? I miss the whole Domino's 30 minutes or it's free model for feedback.
Moaning aside, I’ve just returned from Cape Town where I presented at the Revolutionary Papers conference, which was delayed by two years due to Covid. It was a great mix of academics (mostly historians) and activists – many of the activists were active in the Anti-Apartheid movement – which was truly incredible to be around. Cape Town is a beautiful place, and people are friendly. What shocked me was how apparent the social and spatial segregation in the city is, despite the end of apartheid almost 30 years ago. All by design. I am still processing the experience.
Since my last post, it has been an eventful few months, with lots of exciting news to share (new book! Book launch! Journal article!), so look out for the links below.
Cape Town from the top of Table Mountain, April 2022
My first book Designerly ways of knowing: a working inventory of things a designer should know was published by Onomatopee. It’s a guidebook slash notebook of things designers should think about in order for them to know. BUY IT HERE.*
*Shipping is expensive, so I will try and figure something out for those not in the EU. Stay tuned.
I’m having a book launch at Camden Art Centre on 12 May. I will be in conversation with my colleague Dr Peter Hall. There is is a wait list but we know everyone flakes. So come anyway. Book here.
Accompanying the book is the article "A Designerly Inventory: Provocations to elicit questions, prompt critical thinking and help designers reconfigure their discipline” published in Futuress (March 2022)
Sarona and I presented Countless Palestinian Futures at SOAS back in February. Watch the recording here.
My journal article "Keep Your Distance, Wear a Mask and Stay Safe: The Visual Language of Covid-19 Print-Based Sign" was published in the journal Visual Resources (36: 3, 2020). Message me if you want a PDF.
A long and overdue update from Decolonising Design
Shout out to Countless Palestinian Futures in the article "(Re)claiming Archives" by Randa Hadi
Also, Google Scholar has informed me I’ve been cited 100 times. Small time, but feels like a big win. So thanks for making me feel relevant!
Why Prince is just sheer brilliance (17 Days – Piano and A Microphone 1983 version)
I heard this one on an NTS mix and was hooked (Fefe Ne Efe by Tic Tac)
Really enjoyed Nilüfer Yanya’s album PAINLESS
The Narcissism of Queer Influencer Activists by Jason Okundaye (Gawker)
Same Old by Sun-Ha Hong (Real Life)
Things could be good by Emma Garland (Dazed)
On giving up by Adam Phillips (London Review of Books)
**please send me some good articles you’ve come across.
It was really fun having my sister around for a month. It meant being a tourist again but also hanging out and watching TV. I would recommend The Upshaws and Pretend it's a City (both Netflix), the Afterparty and Severance (both Apple TV). Glad to see US TV shows finally adopting shorter seasons. Let’s hope they stick to one season rather than a hundred when it’s not needed.