New Tech / Sebastian Ruehl

RFID- chips aren’t something new. We use them to enter doors, access lockers and generally identify ourselves. But now, swedish biohacker Hannes Sjoblad went one step further. He got an tic-tac-sized chip implanted in his hand. By that he is able to unlock his office, turn of the alarm and access the printers. In an interview with “WIRED” he also speaks about the possibilities of such an implant. It can not only be used for access, but also for identification or even analysing data from your body. In the future you can so collect data from the human body like blood pressure, heart beat and so on.

He explains the need for such an implant in the satiety of all the magnet cards, all keys and a lot of wearables like fitness bands that no one really likes to use any ways. He also mentions that it’s a very safe and easy way of identifying our self during payments. The benefits of this system are clear but in my opinion we should be aware of the consequences. By collecting all our data we become very transparent beings. We are not forgetting our passwords any more and we never need to look out for our keys. But on the other side, everyone with the right encrypter can access our information just by standing next to us. If there is a encoding there is always someone who is able to decode your chip. And that means all our information is accessable.

Full WIRED-interview here:

Reading Response 4 / Sebastian Ruehl

It’s hard to imagine a future without capitalism. Although that’s mainly because this idea of capital and economic growth has be around for a long time. But as I read through the readings I realised that there are many ways to structure an alternative future without it. The future is in our hands and we actually have to shape it into something less toxic for both our selves ans the planet we live on.

But how can we achieve such a thing. In “four futures” it is described, that the to main two fears of our society are the fear of climate change; which is basically the fear of having to little; that is referred to the climate change that will transform our planet into an inhabitable wasteland and the fear of automation. In the end people are only afraid of change. The acceleration of our economic structures producing the economic growth everyone is so obsessed are causing this climate change. It’s the factories, the container ships and the cars on our street that are causing these problems. And capitalism is the main gear in that downward spiral. But nevertheless we are not totally lost. If we can’t manage to change our system before it’s to late we maybe still survive. If we can adapt.

And now we have the fear of automation. Back when the industrial revolution our manpower was replaced by machines to get the work done. Now for the first time humans can be fully replaced by robots, computers and algorithms. They are faster, more efficient and don’t want money. The don’t get sick and can work 24/7. From an economical point of view a great vision. But what happens to all the people that are now unemployed? Not only will they riot against the government and the companies, but they will also don’t have the money to spend on the useless shit they are supposed to buy. And here is where the gears stop because without capital to invest the whole system doesn’t work any more. So what re we gonna do.

In my opinion, the automation of the industry isn’t something bad. We need the new technologies to reach out for things we couldn’t have done before. No human can engrave computer chips and we need them for nearly everything these days, especially with the IOT rolling out. But we need regulations. By replacing the workers with robots, a lot of jobs go down the river. The only way to maintain the life-standard for the now unemployed people we need an universal basic income provided by the government. But where should the money come from? The companies make huge profit out of their non-human workers so why not taxing them for those? The amount of money from that could be used to give the people their salary and they experience other jobs now on their own will. But why would the companies do so? Because of law and regulation as described by Paul Mason. It’s more profitable not to pay taxes but also is child labour.

In the end there are many ways to succeed a healthy post-capitalistic future. It’s on us to make a step and figure it out. The only thing that is for sure is that we need to do it.

Incidental Anti-Capitalism / Sebastian Ruhl


Fairphone is a relatively new company based in the Netherlands that builds customisable smartphones. These phones have an unique architecture that makes it possible for the user to modify their phones and exchange parts. The just released their second phone phone with a transparent case that reveals their way of thinking. By changing different parts of the phone you get rid of buying a new phone every year and just change the parts that broke or switch to a better camera. That not only shows a new way of thinking it also is a more sustainable approach that is totally needed in times where resources for electronics start getting rare.

Reading Response 3 / Sebastian Ruhl

Imagine designing an application. If you really go into it, you have to do a lot of programming to get a certain level of depth into it. But when you are finished, the only thing the user experiences is the interface that lays on top of it all the hard work you did. By going back into the code and changing the variables, you change the whole app. Everything that we see and experience what we is directly influenced by the meta that lays underneath. That’s the dark matter.

Talking about dark matter in the context of design, we talk about the things that are not visual at first but influence the outcome. It’s all about the context, the environment where our product or service is taking place. The core of dark matter is the understanding of the complex structure that is behind every design. I mean most of the designers are all about the shiny end because that’s what sells at the end. But if we really want our products to be as useful as possible, we need to dig deeper into the matter.

In the End, we are designing for people. And that doesn’t mean it as to be as fancy as possible. It has to be valuable. Again, value is not connected with the pricing. Value comes when you actually think about peoples needs. Where do they live? What is their life about and what do they really need.

As designers, we can have a direct influence on that. But creating something that is a symbiosis between the meta end the matter, one has to be able to understand complex policies and environments and has to figure how to communicate it. As I sad the dark matter is nothing we can see it’s something you have to figure out. In my opinion it’s really important to make this kind of thoughts because only by rethinking stuff you can truly re-design it.

Another interesting thought is the concept of the greater context. Peter Behrens, a German Industrial Designer, designed a house as part of the ,,Damstädter Künstlerkolonie” (Art community) where he designed everything from the products, to the interior over to the architecture. He thought about everything in it’s context so it all matched together and created this so called synthesis of arts.

Finally I want to say, everything has to be turned and watched from another perspective. There are problems everywhere and stuff’s getting complex so we really should be aware that we can make a change if we want to.



schwarz-weifl-Scan aus:
Ein Dokument deutscher Kunst. Die Ausstellung der K¸nstler-Kolonie in Darmstadt 1901. Festschrift. M‹nchen: Bruckmann, 1901.
[Exemplar in der Staatsbibliothek Berlin]

Reading response 2 / Sebastian Ruehl

Capital is what you get when you exchange goods or services for more money then what they are actually worth of. It’s profit-based and has the goal to maximise the money you get out of every transaction you make. It’s foundation of how we live and interact with each other these days.

Doesn’t seem natural right? Well because it’s not. It’s fictional. We invented that system a long time ago and it’s based of something that also seems natural to us: Greed.

Thousands of years ago, the human race changed their behaviour from being nomadic hunters to being settled farmers. The Kick-off for the agricultural revolution. Before that point the early humans didn’t have anything that would be considered property. They only had their tools for everyday survival. But after this point the had land, houses and a field that they had to care of. That might came with some benefits like having a safe home and not going out everyday to hunt but they also had to trade their goods in exchange for the things they couldn’t get any more due to their stationary way of living. Trading normally works the way that you exchange goods that have the same value so no one gets ripped of. That system worked for long time until someone, who had nothing to trade with, offered the opposite side some stones and pretended that they have some value.

And here we are today. Just to make this clear value is something very real. For our ancestors a tomato had more value than a diamond. Today we pretend it’s the other way around. To be fair diamonds are used in complex tools so they also have their value. But most of the products and services we use have only value because we put it on. That only works because we invented the money system. We decided that a certain amount of green papers have a certain value. Not to bad mean they are more easy to carry than a bunch of stones or some stags of wood but by the time we consumed more and more stuff the relation between money and value changed.

Now it gets tricky. So you produce something and you are very proud of your good work; then you want to sell it for a certain amount of money because it has value. Let’s say it’s a shoe. As a producer you also had to put some money into it for the costs of the materials, the machines and the workers. Wouldn’t it be natural to sell this shoe for the exact amount of money you put into? I mean of course you need more money out of it because you have to expand your business, make more shoes and make even more money. Maybe you build another factory somewhere where the shoes are even more cheaper to make and you make even more money. That’s what Capitalism is about. We invented it because we are greedy from the point on we started having property more than 10 thousand years ago.

Reading//1 Sebastian Ruehl

What is discursive Design, what is speculative Design

I remember the first time someone showed me one of the Pablo Picasso’s masterpieces when I was very young. I looked at it and just couldn’t figure out what the meaning of it is. It was so different from everything else I saw before that was considered art. Is there are meaning at all in these strange forms and figures? Until this point art was always something beautiful to me. Something you look at and find it pleasing without any disturbance.

Looking at discursive Design I felt something similar. But Now I’m older and I get the idea. Art, ether in music, film or on a wall was always the number one medium to spread ideas. And ideas are nutrient for discourse which is major for change. That’s what discursive design is about. It demands change. The problem is, when talking about Design, that it’s considered highly commercially. It doesn’t matter if you are a graphic or industrial designer, due to the dogma of value (money), you have to design it the way it gets sold. So if you want to design something that is not directly connected with making money, discursive Design has some tools to offer. I really depends on the message you want to communicate. An idea is also an ideal and here it gets really interesting. So as an discursive Designer you try to convert your message into something visual and by that people can understand it and relate to it. Sometimes these pieces are very iconic, like the TV helmet by Walter Pichler, that wants us to question our consumer behaviour; sometimes it’s very subtle like the Statistical Clock, that make us question our behaviour. Its about making people think and question things they never thought about.

Speculative Design on the other hand is a very different approach. Although it sounds like predicting the future it is more like shaping it. The Designer working in this field always try to find new ways of producing and creating valuable products. Like discursive design it’s non-profit based always in a change. It has it’s focus on the human scale not on big systems and is so for very neutral and rational. Due to it not being bond onto the capitalistic aspects of design, one can experiment a lot of different techniques create value without worrying about the market. Maybe that’s what’s true expressions is about.

For me the interesting part is when you start combining the different kinds of design and not thinking to much about how and where to sell my products. I great thing is, as a student, I can do exactly that. All the stuff I created during my study has no need of being sold or even judged by someone. Maybe we need something like that, a forum where everyone could just create there ideas and turn them into ideals without the pressure of the market we got so used to.

In the end I’m still not sure what Picasso wanted to express with his paintings but I’m still thinking about it. Maybe that’s what it is about.