Thoughts on Systems Design- by a Communication Design Learner

When I first started at a design college, the term “Systems Design” was unfamiliar to me, but since then the word has been running around in a lot of circles. As a result, it has been frequently heard and discussed, lowering my ambiguity about the course. My understanding of design has evolved because of various influxes of perspectives from people of different ages. It began with the ideology of having a brand first approach, which later progressed to a Human-centric approach, which is a linear process and having heard deficiencies about the HCD process as well, I have now learned of a society-centric approach. As a result, my association with systems has been with something that is part of a community or a world that exists with its array of challenges.

Leveraging the help of design, we can now identify the tenets that this system is comprised of and then strive to locate possibilities and comprehend multiple strategies to address a difficulty with simple yet mindfully sustainable solutions. Some problems in society are controlled and can be handled post a certain amount of research, whilst others are unpredictable and ever-changing, with no singular method to solve them because they exist because of multiple problems at various levels in the system. The first issue that we should consider as designers is that simplifying or making someone’s life simpler should not come at the expense of jeopardizing another component of the system. Thus, a holistic and nonlinear approach in which every aspect of the large web of interrelationships is considered and then an experience or product is delivered that does not interfere with the natural processes of other beings, be it the environment or the forms living in it, would be considered successful. With the constant evolution of a fast-paced world, we as humans are likewise deviating from what is vital to our existence in favor of what is more convenient for us which might end up creating more problems than solving any. Here is an example of what could be considered an example of the same.

With recent developments on the technological front, we are amongst the last few generations who have witnessed the shift from the supposed ‘traditional’ mediums to the digital era. From paperbacks to E-readers, renting movies and watching television to Netflix, going out, meeting in person, or playing with friends to being confined to seven-second Instagram reels, we have seen it all. I have been an avid reader for most of my life and have attached myself to the term ‘bibliophile’ for the longest time till a crisis struck, I could not read anymore. It is hard being detached from this community of book readers and that specific self-entitled title but the reality has been far from what I project in my head. I have constantly tried going back into reading though now my sources have shifted from longer works of literature to short papers

We have been spoiled for choice, quite literally. From accessing limitless libraries of content for entertainment, education, and leisure, the challenging task of hunting just one piece of relevant information has become a complexity. We navigate through thousands of authors, music, and genres making the journey feel endless, and if nothing pleases us, we discontinue the task in its entirety. Our attention span has reduced to that of a goldfish that even when we have an interesting challenge or subject at hand, it seems almost impossible to resist the quick burst of information to reach certainty. Reading text on paper slows our minds, allowing time for developing a critical thinking process and cultivating a sense of empathy and perspectives. These factors allow us to absorb details and contribute to our thinking.

When we switch to digital interfaces, we have multiple tabs open always enabling us to multi-task. Hence while digitally reading we are only skimming over the details, which we later realize that we might have forgotten the crucial plot details. While this may come in handy while perusing emails, E-readers do not stay in our minds for longer.

The process of renting weekly films or having fixed hours for watching television would build self-discipline and help us focus as well as build harmony with other facets of life, not limited to just entertainment. Nurturing relationships and having conversations is what makes us humans and satiates our ‘social animal.’ It is very abysmal and unnatural to see it may be significantly affected as people have resorted to finding solace through Netflix or Instagram while the communication skills remain underdeveloped. Thus, the entry of these big giants has shifted human behaviors so much so that they have become a part of the daily verbatim. If certain considerations to the above-mentioned aspects of life had been acknowledged, their design would be catering to all perspectives of an individual’s nature and life, going well beyond their profit-seeking process.

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Shreya Dhar

Shreya Dhar

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