Skip to content
ucsd logo design lab

Message from Don Norman on Power and Prejudice

Message from Don Norman on Power and Prejudice

Message from Don Norman on Power and Prejudice

People are upset.  I personally am feeling disgusted and angry. The events we are now experiencing have been years and decades in the making: the events are the symptoms of deeper underlying problems.  

The way we have had to change our entire lives to deal with the COVID pandemic, the economic suffering that has been created, and now the frustration and anger over displays of prejudice and the abuse of power are all symptoms. Symptoms of our nation’s inability to prepare ahead of time for known problems, inability to take care of our most disadvantaged citizens, and the racist, prejudiced actions of many in our society. These have been with us since the beginning of this nation.

It is right to be angry. But it is far more important that we transform the feelings of frustration and anger into positive activity that will lead to change. Protest?  Yes, but let us encourage positive, effective ways of change. We might start with the ballot box, but even that is not enough. We must create positive action plans, support political candidates who will work to help create the change, petition the corporations to put aside the quest for short-term profit and replace it with a quest for enhanced communities, enhanced living standards, and a cleaner and safer environment for everyone. Our ideas have to build a long-term future, to offer solutions for ways to address hunger, povertyracial prejudice. We need to get rid of the GDP as a measure of success and replace it with measures of wellness and satisfaction.

How do we do this? It‘s design problem. A tremendously difficult and huge, complex problem. But all the important problems are difficult and complex. And these are exactly the problems that we need to focus upon. We each need to ask ourselves, what do we wish to accomplish with our lives. For me, I turn to ways that can lead to better lives for everyone.  This is the time for all of us to reflect and come together to meet the design challenge of building a better world.

Don Norman
Director, The Design Lab
University of California, San Diego
People are upset.  I personally am feeling disgusted and angry. The events we are now experiencing have been years and decades in the making: the events are the symptoms of deeper underlying problems.  

The way we have had to change our entire lives to deal with the COVID pandemic, the economic suffering that has been created, and now the frustration and anger over displays of prejudice and the abuse of power are all symptoms. Symptoms of our nation’s inability to prepare ahead of time for known problems, inability to take care of our most disadvantaged citizens, and the racist, prejudiced actions of many in our society. These have been with us since the beginning of this nation.

It is right to be angry. But it is far more important that we transform the feelings of frustration and anger into positive activity that will lead to change. Protest?  Yes, but let us encourage positive, effective ways of change. We might start with the ballot box, but even that is not enough. We must create positive action plans, support political candidates who will work to help create the change, petition the corporations to put aside the quest for short-term profit and replace it with a quest for enhanced communities, enhanced living standards, and a cleaner and safer environment for everyone. Our ideas have to build a long-term future, to offer solutions for ways to address hunger, povertyracial prejudice. We need to get rid of the GDP as a measure of success and replace it with measures of wellness and satisfaction.

How do we do this? It‘s design problem. A tremendously difficult and huge, complex problem. But all the important problems are difficult and complex. And these are exactly the problems that we need to focus upon. We each need to ask ourselves, what do we wish to accomplish with our lives. For me, I turn to ways that can lead to better lives for everyone.  This is the time for all of us to reflect and come together to meet the design challenge of building a better world.

Don Norman
Director, The Design Lab
University of California, San Diego
People are upset.  I personally am feeling disgusted and angry. The events we are now experiencing have been years and decades in the making: the events are the symptoms of deeper underlying problems.  

The way we have had to change our entire lives to deal with the COVID pandemic, the economic suffering that has been created, and now the frustration and anger over displays of prejudice and the abuse of power are all symptoms. Symptoms of our nation’s inability to prepare ahead of time for known problems, inability to take care of our most disadvantaged citizens, and the racist, prejudiced actions of many in our society. These have been with us since the beginning of this nation.

It is right to be angry. But it is far more important that we transform the feelings of frustration and anger into positive activity that will lead to change. Protest?  Yes, but let us encourage positive, effective ways of change. We might start with the ballot box, but even that is not enough. We must create positive action plans, support political candidates who will work to help create the change, petition the corporations to put aside the quest for short-term profit and replace it with a quest for enhanced communities, enhanced living standards, and a cleaner and safer environment for everyone. Our ideas have to build a long-term future, to offer solutions for ways to address hunger, povertyracial prejudice. We need to get rid of the GDP as a measure of success and replace it with measures of wellness and satisfaction.

How do we do this? It‘s design problem. A tremendously difficult and huge, complex problem. But all the important problems are difficult and complex. And these are exactly the problems that we need to focus upon. We each need to ask ourselves, what do we wish to accomplish with our lives. For me, I turn to ways that can lead to better lives for everyone.  This is the time for all of us to reflect and come together to meet the design challenge of building a better world.

Don Norman
Director, The Design Lab
University of California, San Diego

Read Next

Design Lab Sheng-feng Qin

Spotlight on Sheng-feng Qin: His take on Design from China to the UK and US

Sheng-feng Qin is a professor at the University of Northumbria at Newcastle in the School…

SPUR Team 5

The presented report outlines a strategic initiative to transform the undergraduate research landscape at UC…

UCSD Ed Ngai Salesforce

Where are they now? Ed Ngai

Ed Ngai ‘17 works to ensure that designers and developers create consistent, beautiful experiences through…

Ucsd San Diego

Civic Design – DSGN 160: Open Enrollment

This studio course explores how to design products, services, and policies for complex socio-technical systems. The class will follow a human-centered design process that includes user research, concept generation, prototyping, pitching, and alliance building. Students will work in teams to design solutions to civic challenges affecting people in the San Diego region. This will be a good course for intermediate to advanced design students who want to build up their portfolio and to practice their skills with sketching, storyboarding, prototyping, and evaluating services for real-world problems.

As part of this class, teams will enter the Design for San Diego 2020 challenge (D4SD.org) and interact with other innovators, experts, and mentors throughout the city to address problems related to Mobility, Health, Environment, and Housing. Top teams will have an opportunity to present their work and win prizes at events in downtown San Diego!
Earth2 Project Challenges Vaccines

Earth2 Project Challenges Vaccines, 10 to 100, Ten Days to Vaccinate Everyone

"In collaboration with the University of New Mexico, the Earth2 project is helping to present a 10 day series of seminars on Vaccines and Vaccine Hesitancy, covering topics that range from vaccine-myths to Native American implications and special aspects having to do with other minority and LGBTQ communities, to hearing trusted voices." - David Brin, Author, Futurist, Public Speaker

"Solving the most complex societal programs involves a whole community approach. That's why I'm so excited about the Earth 2 Challenge to reach 100% vaccination which will make our society healthier and safer. But to succeed, we need everyone to participate." - Mai Nguyen, Design Lab Director, UC San Diego
Don Norman Interview Design Usability

“I Think We Have to Start Over”: Usability Guru Don Norman on the Next Internet

"I think we have to start over. And we may need very separate networks. The notion that there is one network that is for everything maybe is wrong. We used to have separate networks. They were, in fact, determined by the technology. Hence radio was different than telephones, which was different than television, which was different than printed books. And today we say, “Nah, it’s all information,” and that this isn’t that neat, because on the internet you can do all of that. Well, OK. But the content is really what’s important, not the technology or the way it’s distributed. And I would love to find a different scheme where people are controlling their own data." - Don Norman
Back To Top