Social Entrepreneurism With a Swiss Army Knife
Thursday, January 1st, 2015

David Stairs Homo faber, humankind the maker, seems destined to design itself right out of a world. MacGyver packin’ Unlike pharmacology, or agriculture, technology has a weak review process for testing its effects on the natural environment. We have user testing, of course, the way we discover what will make a product or service dangerous […]

The Lives of the Saints
Friday, October 31st, 2014

David Stairs As a person who answers a lot of mail inquiring about socially responsible design internship options, a recent Skype conversation with some grad architecture students at Ball State University got me to dusting off some serious criticism of the “faux humanitarianism” of do-gooder design.

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

David Stairs An admission of personal weakness is not always a bad way to start a new year. I’m willing to stick my neck out and tell you a secret: I’m an inveterate maker of lists. I can’t shop for food without using a list. At night I lie in bed evaluating the past with […]

Insufficiently Radical
Friday, June 14th, 2013

David Stairs What can be considered radical anymore? In their day, Vikings were pretty radical Used to be this was easy to answer. Back in the ’60s we had Abbie Hoffman and Students for a Democratic Society, and Angela Davis and the Black Panthers. In the ’70’s there was Russel Means and AIM under siege […]

It’s the Language Dummy
Thursday, April 11th, 2013

David Stairs Young boys on the beach in Allepay, Kerala, India Designers are frequently talking about skills and aesthetics, practice and theory, and these are important topics. But when it comes to politics, man can they get it wrong! I suspect it has more to do with privilege and cultural blindness than purposeful discrimination. And […]

When Altruism Goes Wrong
Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

David Stairs “Indeed, staying silent on explicit religious topics while oozing a Jesus-y pheromone has allowed Invisible Children to tap an entire spectrum of Christian charities, philanthropists, and celebrities, from the most liberal to the most conservative.” —Josh Kron, “Mission From God: The Upstart Christian Sect Driving Invisible Children and Changing Africa,” The Atlantic, April […]

Mission Control, We Have Altruism Here
Sunday, January 8th, 2012

David Stairs I’ve been writing about altruism at this blog for so long it all begins to blend together. My inaugural essay spoke about the biological/memetic basis for altruism. The year before I had published an essay at Design Issues that was a prelude to D-A-P. Finally, along comes a book that corroborates some of […]

Chump Change
Saturday, June 25th, 2011

David Stairs When it comes to saving the world, I’m a reformed do-gooder. Yet, not a day goes by that I am not reminded of how many people are working mightily to save the world. First and foremost, there are the entrepreneurs, those who float websites and publish magazines and manage non-profits. These have been […]