"Who? to whom listen?" : critical design for authorial voice

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Guy, Madeleine Faye

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Critical design for authorial voice is a research methodology which combines an analytical reading approach with a reflective design approach. This methodology is based upon an object-oriented framework which sees digital objects as equal agents in the design and use of technologies, possessing an "authorial voice" which speaks through infrastructures and privileges certain narratives of use and creation. When scholars see the digital space as the "other" divorced from the biases and assumptions of humans - the digital as transparent, neutral tools -  scholars ignore how infrastructures are interwoven with every level of society, and how these structures change the everyday experiences of human life. This thesis combines classification studies and interface criticism with critical design in the reading and making of digital critical editions. My research can be examined in the fields of critical design, digital humanities and knowledge organization as an example of how to merge theory and praxis. Applying questions of authorial voice during the process of reading and designing objects involves constantly questioning pre-held assumptions about the nature of text in a digital space and how to design objects. My framework and methodology suggest a way that all disciplines in the information sciences can broaden their ability to gain knowledge from the technical objects they interact with and create; the voices that speak to them, and that can be heard, are multiplied many times over once objects are recognized to have agency and an authorial voice. Critical design projects are thus a way to develop artifacts in a more holistic, engaged manner, allowing both the creation and understanding of technologies to develop in tandem, rather than as separate processes of design and critique, and to consider the ethical implications of one's design decisions.




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