radical design for web

welcome, new user

Radicalize the web for human rights. Radicalize design because you hate cops. Radicalize because your roommate was clubbed. Radicalize design to stop expansion. Radicalize design to seize control of your life. Radicalize to become more human. Radicalize because there’s no poetry in your lectures. Radicalize because work is a bore. Radicalize for power. Radicalize to smash the Corporation. Radicalize to make yourself free. Radicalize the internet because they are trying to squeeze the life out of you.

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Why Radicalize the Web

As large tech companies continue to monopolize the internet with strict content guidelines and data ownership, controlling your own online presence is even more important than ever for artists, culture workers, and innovative thinkers of all kinds. In this working group, we will examine critically the standard practices of contemporary web design to understand the types of labor and thought they enable, and then imagine how radical design can make room on the internet for creative departures and alternative futures. 

Participants in this working group will learn both the design thinking and tangible skills to perfect a website they will begin building in this course. A list of design and development resources will be shared, and brainstorming sessions will help participants create the online presence that is most appropriate to their work and creative practice.

This working group will be especially useful for practitioners whose work involves key elements of decolonization, anti-racism or anti-white supremacy, and anti-capitalism.

module 01: medium vs. message

Participants will learn a brief history of the internet geared towards understanding the evolution of contemporary design practices, then examine three major design foundations for web (black/white contrast, top-down and left-right reading, and grid systems) to understand how these aesthetics reinforce dominant social structures, and finally brainstorm together alternative design practices and what alternative social structures they could enable.

module 02: radicalizing design

The first half of this session will focus on information architecture as participants create their own site maps for a website of their choice. We will explore traditional information hierarchies according to current design principles, and then imagine alternative structures like dynamic or database content, non/narrative architectures, and circle or spiral architecture formats. In the second half of this session, participants will follow a similar path for brand identity formats, building the visual profile of their content through colors, typography, pattern, and other style information, as we explore the Western art tradition that informs dominant graphic design and how other cultural traditions, real and imagined, can be brought in.

Coming soon
module 03: inside/outside the master's internet

This session will prepare participants for the limits of online presence and the internet as a commodity. We will discuss the issues around accessibility, climate impact, and the ethics of the web design and development industry in order to help participants make a thoughtful choice about how to begin working with a designer/developer or code their own site. This session will provide participants with tangible next steps to build the site they have designed.

Coming soon

Amanda Figueroa has fifteen years of experience using design to keep the internet weird. She was raised at the US-MX border, and currently resides in Boston as she finishes her PhD in American Studies from Harvard University and works on the Experimental Practice team at the MIT Museum. She is also the co-founder of Brown Art Ink, an art incubator to support women of color artists and culture workers.

This workshop was first held February to March 2022 for members of New Inc. at the New Museum. The course modules are made available here for public use, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Thank you to Ravon Ruffin, New Inc., and the New Museum.