Online Conference, 25-26 March 2021 | SDN Symposium
SDN Symposium
Switch the button to see the schedule in your time zone.
Swiss time (GMT+0100)
Your local time

14:00 - 15:30


Designing Agency, Sociotechnical Conditions, Design Patterns, Role of the Designer, Legible AI, Deliberative Speculative Design

This panel reflects upon agency under socio-technological conditions on two different levels of observation: two reflections on a macro scale are accompanied by two best practice approaches. Kellermeyer & Torpus examine the state of our present techno-social hybrid existence and suggest design patterns to render the correlations visible and perceptible to establish an extensive idea of agency as a kind of general solidarity. Owoyele & Edelman conceptualize the intertwining of human agency of designers and non-human agency of digital technologies. They make more explicit their mediating role in understanding and facilitating sustainability transition outcomes. Pilling et al. showcase how a design-led enquiry can respond towards making our relationship with AI more legible and provide a platform for framing the challenge and relevant research landscape for improving user agency. Hohendanner et al. present their deliberative speculative design workshop framework for the exploration of technological futures as approach to enhances citizens’ agency and discuss workshop results with regards to common good. After brief presentations and a Q&A session, participants are invited to join the discussion on agency and share their perspectives.

Panel speakers

Presented papers

  • Commoning Ubicomp. Designing Equitable Techno-Social Hybrids

    by Jonas Kellermeyer, Jan Torpus

    In this article, we want to examine the state of our present techno-social hybrid existence and suggest solutions to render the correlations visible and perceptible to establish an extensive idea of general solidarity. We propose and would like to discuss design patterns that help (re-)imagining and (re-)shaping the common good as an essential part of the coupling between human and non-human (technological) actors. Caring for one another (and subsequently for the common good) in the present means imagining techno-social hybrids and establishing a sense of respectively shared solidarity. The infrastructural importance of the common good and its ecological implications are essential to the anticipated design of ubiquitous computing structures that may be utilized for fair and equal distribution of (material) goods.

  • Deep Design: Integrating Transitions Research and Design with Agency, in the Digital Era

    by Babajide Owoyele, Jonathan Antonio Edelman

    Deep-Design is a conceptual framing of ongoing transdisciplinary work between sustainability transitions research, transition design, and information systems. The goal is to make explicit the role of Design(ers) and digital technologies in the sustainability literature on actors and agency. This conceptual piece integrates transition design with the notion of non-human Agency from digital technology and prototypically incorporates designers as mediating agents in multi-actor configurations in transitions. DeepDesign offers Digital paradigm perspectives (distributed agency through openness, affordance, and generativity of digital technology) and acknowledges the inherent paradoxes of digital apps, platforms, or infrastructure. Facilitating the build-up of new structures, culture, and practices or breaking down old ones hinges on agency. The digital paradigm, however, requires exploring non-human agency explicitly. To help realize the DeepDesign research agenda, a literature review provides a theoretical basis for more contemporary connections between sustainability transitions research and transition design. Towards "sustainability epiphanies," the questions are How is Agency characterized in current transition research and design literature? And how can Digital paradigm perspectives (openness, affordances, and generativity) augment our understanding of Agency in sustainability transitions research and Design?

  • Legible AI by Design: Design Research to Frame, Design, Empirically Test and Evaluate AI Iconography

    by Franziska Pilling, Adrian Gradinar, Joseph Lindley, Paul Coulton, Haider Akmal

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly ubiquitous. Implemented into a wide range of everyday applications from social media, shopping, media recommendations and is increasingly making decisions about whether we are eligible for a loan, health insurance and potentially if we are worth interviewing for a job. This proliferation of AI brings many design challenges regarding bias, transparency, fairness, accountability and trust etc. It has been proposed that these challenges can be addressed by considering user agency, negotiability and legibility as defined by Human Data Interaction (HCD). These concepts are independent and interdependent, and it can be argued, by providing solutions towards legibility, we can also address other considerations such as fairness and accountability. In this design research, we address the challenge of legibility and illustrate how design-led research can deliver practical solutions towards legible AI and provide a platform for discourse towards improving user understanding of AI.

  • Designing the Exploration of Common Good within Digital Environments: A Deliberative Speculative Design Framework and the Analysis of Resulting Narratives

    by Michel Hohendanner, Chiara Ullstein, Daijiro Mizuno

    In the course of ongoing digitization of living environments, digital public environments like social media platforms have gained significant influence over societies and individuals. It is therefore decisive for future-viable societies to discuss and explore how these environments should be constituted in the future. This research introduces a framework embedded into a digital workshop format for collaborative speculative design, that enables this exploration in the sense of common good. It was validated in three online workshops and is accessible under the CC-License at This work classifies the framework, workshop processes and results according to notions of common good exemplifying how design can contribute to and be or become common good. Empirical studies show, first, the framework supports participants to speculate about the future of digitized environments. Second, a narrative analysis on workshop results reveals that omnipotent actors predominate future scenarios and threaten or impede self-regulation and common good.