From the curators

We all use data on a daily basis. This happens when we use a mobile phone, check directions to a particular destination or look for a recipe for tomato soup. We often do not even realize that in such situations we use and produce data, as well as interact with solutions based on artificial intelligence. In practice, we leave many digital traces.

We all experience emotions every day. What is characteristic of emotions is that they come and go and differ in intensity. They may be positive or negative. Sometimes it is the joy of meeting friends, sometimes it is anger when a car breaks down on the way to an important meeting or shame after telling a little lie. There are emotions that we recognize and are aware of, and those which are experienced unconsciously.

For years, designers have been using methods that allow them to take into account the emotional needs of users, treating them as equally important as functional needs. The profession of a designer emerged with the industrial revolution and has been changing ever since with the technological progress. Entering the digital world was a natural step for designers. Today, the development of data analysis opens another fascinating chapter for designers. “People crave data more often than they drink, more often than they eat, more often than they make love to each other. They check, look for or obtain data more often. Data have become a necessity. After breathing, and even before drinking water, data consumption is the most frequent activity,” says Prof. Ryszard Tadeusiewicz (AGH University of Science and Technology, Krakow). Since this is the case, designers cannot remain indifferent. Data enable us to look at the reality from a different perspective. They enable us to pose research questions, and data processing brings cognitive relief: “We are not even aware how much choosing, selecting, searching, how much effort and time we are spared by this hidden data analysis”—says Monika Książek, Data Science Expert at Play. There is a great potential in data.

Data are becoming the subject of a heated debate among designers. One of the most renowned curators of design exhibitions, Paola Antonella from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, highlighted the need to bring data closer to human beings, to humanize new areas of technology. She thinks that designers will play an important role here, as due to the nature of their work, they are aware of the importance of both the context and human beings, and see that technology is developing faster than common knowledge about it. In 2019 the Barbican Gallery in London hosted the exhibition “AI: More than Human,” which challenged common perceptions of artificial intelligence and gave real-life examples of how new technologies affect everyday life. 

Designers have a great opportunity to combine the world of data and the world of emotions, so that each of us can reap the best benefits from both of them.

Joanna Rutkowska, Magda Kochanowska