What is Critical Making? A term coined by Matt Ratto ( – Critical Making: Conceptual and Material Studies in Technology and Social Life)

“It’s a good question: Why do things the hard way? What’s the value of doing something yourself as an amateur”. – 1) taking on something new as an amateur is the quickest way to learn something, promote innovation, and appreciate the invisible labour normally taken for granted. 2) There is resistance to digital formats ie. e-books, e-readers. “…..technologies that are pronounced obsolete continually take on alternative “zombie” forms that are resurrected into new uses, contexts and adaptations”. 3)Hands-on physical work is valuable in critical making, critical design, and especially critical reflection.

Critical Making – Manifestos:
Making is the Universal Infrastructure of Production: Daniel Charny

The act of making diminished after the Industrial Revolution, the decline in making has created a gap in the knowledge and understanding not only of how things are made but also for the appreciation of made objects. Although everyone has the ability to make, less and less participate in the act. “Making is a type of applied thinking that sits at the core of creating new knowledge of all kinds, and the sensibilities of making should actively be made a part of our future” (Charny, p.1). This article brings up many pertinent questions about making, the one I am most interested in is its reference to the mixing of digital practices and craft alluding to the idea that making and therefore crafting contains the human aspect of the two. Charny also speaks about making as an alternative to buying as a way to protect or prolong the limited resources available to us. The power of making, according to Charny, is a basic human impulse, “That it not only releases creative ideas but for many, is about participating in society and defining personal identity. And While it is true that for many making is a non creative means for survival, for others it is a way of learning, of defying conventions, enjoying life or solving its problems. A way of exercising (free) will” (Charny, p. 2).

A Summary of My Work Modes and Objectives – Norman White

White aligns himself as a tinker.

Tinker – to work in the manner of a tinker

especially to repair, adjust, or work with something in an unskilled or experimental manner : Fiddle (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

I can really relate to the idea of being someone who tinkers, especially in the time of COVID19 tinkering is at an all time high. My daily sketches are a way of tinkering for me, as I imagine adjustments, repairs, improvements to objects in an experimental way. Many of these sketches will not come to fruition but they allow me to articulate a possible solution to this moment in time/space. Tinkering at the moment, manual and digital, is a response to the fear, and isolation brought on by COVID19, White eloquently states “At the most abstract level, machines articulate human aesthetics, fears, needs and aspirations” (p.1).

Thesis on Making in the Digital Age – Michael Dieter & Geert Lovink
Introducing Adversarial Design – Carl DiSalvo

Adversarial Design: is design that does the work of agonism. (Design can be political)

Agonism: is a political theory that emphasizes the potentially positive aspects of certain forms of political conflict.

The work is never done in adversarial design, there is no utopian end, instead it is a constant evaluation, reconfiguration and reworking of the world.

Where does speculative design fit with adversarial design?


Hertz, Garnet, ed. Critical Making. Telharmonium Press, 2012.