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Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It
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Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  993 ratings  ·  153 reviews
The world is working exactly as designed.
The combustion engine which is destroying our planet’s atmosphere and rapidly making it inhospitable is working exactly as we designed it. Guns, which lead to so much death, work exactly as they’re designed to work. And every time we “improve” their design, they get better at killing. Facebook’s privacy settings, which have outed ga
Kindle Edition, 251 pages
Published April 12th 2019
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 ·  993 ratings  ·  153 reviews

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May 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’m giving this book four stars on a curve because I believe it needs to exist for the audience it was written for: white tech bros who will only listen to another white tech bro (the author basically says as much).

I’m a WOC working in tech and I’m certain many of us minority folk already know most of this stuff through experience and necessity. Diverse hiring practices bring more perspectives to the table and result in a better product. Big social media platforms will never be in the business o
Alexander Traykov
May 06, 2019 rated it liked it
A piece about design ethics, while the writer focuses solely on US-based issues, ignoring the rest of the design world. Quotes like "If you work at company X, you should quit now" are pathetic, giving the fact that there are designers outside of your six figure-paycheck bubbles, basically pushing whole families just a bit over the poverty lines thanks to "unethical" companies. Extremely opinionated, irrational and at times god-awfully cliched. I get the point of it, I respect a couple of parts o ...more
Lennie Noiles
Apr 27, 2019 rated it liked it
A good rant

There were times I wanted to rate this book 4 stars, other times 2. I split the difference. Some very valid points. Sometimes just a rant.
Miguel Eduardo
Jun 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
I tried. I really tried to push through and read it all. I couldn't. I started to have doubts right at the start when it reads like a blog post bashing Twitter, Uber, FB... Then politics got mixed and we got into a Trump bashing frenzy. I'm the last person to support him, but if I'm reading a book on design (or so I thought) I don't expect US politics to be the central topic.

Then we got to this: "While the study doesn’t make a conclusive connection between mental health and social media because
Sam Hutchings
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The World is Ruined By Design.

In this book, Mike takes the task the generations of designers who have let terrible things happen on their watch. From the Facebook designers who allow the company to harvest all of our data, to the designers of cages to put immigrant children in. At every level, Designers have both helped and hindered humanity, and the latter often feels like it’s winning.

Read this book if you’re interested in how you, as a designer, can make the world a better place for humanit
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading and a call to action for anyone working in the tech industry*. We had the chance to make digital products work for people, but instead chose to prioritize profits and egos to build platforms where Nazis run free, and products that help lock children in cages or sell our private data to the highest bidder. It's time we acknowledge that moving fast breaks not just things but the lives of people, especially those already marginalized and vulnerable.

The author argues for redefinin
Brennan Letkeman
Jul 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
Have you ever wanted to read a 200 page twitter thread of tepid "hot" takes whose only common thread seems to be 'directionless anger'?

good news! here's the book.
Deniz Cem Önduygu
Jul 01, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, design, ethics
There is absolutely nothing about you that makes you different than anyone else. (p.14)

Every human being on this planet is obligated to do their best to leave this planet in better shape than we found it. Everyone on the planet is obligated to respect every other human being on this planet. (p.19)

A designer’s job is always to look out for society’s best interest. (p.52)

This job isn’t about helping Nike sell shoes; it’s about making sure everyone has shoes. (p.208)

These sentences and the like rai
Mary Chase Mize
Jan 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Thought provoking and important - I’ll echo another reviewer here: I think this is an excellent book for the targeted audience. A bit repetitive, and it was definitely a rant, but the content is worth reading and considering. I don’t think I’d ever read a book like this on my own, which is reason #6,284 of why I love my book club.
Vytautas Alech
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: design, 2019
Great points on design ethics and licensing. Everything else is highly uninformed, social justice trend chasing rant looking at world through the distorted silicon valley lens. Lacks the global big picture view of how majority of the world runs. Granted most of the statements apply to most industries across the globe, but most of them also miss the mark or are too general. Important concepts such as free speech are barely covered, or are looked at in the US context without any historical, global ...more
Scott Boms
Mar 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Required reading for any designer whether you work on the web, building apps, or making anything really. There’s something here for you. Mike pulls no punches in the way only he does. And we need to hear it.
Maddie Nastase
Nov 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: design
Fierce and empowering 💥
I agree with Mike that as designers we have focused for far too long on *how* to do our craft better instead of asking *why* we're doing it, and for what purpose. The topic of ethics in design is finally here (and late to the party), and I completely agree with Mike's rage on the subject. Tough love is what we need right now.

The one question I still have and do not feel like this book has answered is - 'how does anyone know at the moment of discovery where their work will
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
I don't always write reviews, and when I do, they tend to be more of reactions than "thoughtful analysis." Furthermore, I don't believe I have ever written any kind of review before finishing a book, unless to say that the book was so awful I couldn't finish it. Well, this isn't quite that. I'm commenting now, with half the book yet to go, because I'm irritated by how long it's taking me to get through the damn thing. It's taking me forever because Ruined by Design is sort of ruined by its
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I’m going to read this book again and again for years to come. It’s an important book. Brilliantly angry and rightfully so. If you work in tech (and not only if you’re a designer) please give this book a good read. I think we all need to learn a thing or two from Mike Monteiro and his amazing book.
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book should be at the top of the curriculum for anyone entering the design field. Mike Monteiro lays out examples of how design has scarred society and is empowering designers to acknowledge and take charge of their responsibility. He puts it perfectly at last when he states: “I’m talking about caring who our work is affecting. I’m talking about caring about who it’s helping and who it’s hurting. I’m talking about who’s making design decisions, and who’s being left out of them. I’m talking ...more
Mike Gunderloy
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Those who ding this work because it's an unabashedly political rant and call to arms are, I think, completely missing the point. Many designers (and by that term Monteiro and I both include everyone who designs things, including software developers and product managers as well as UI/UX professionals) have become utterly complicit in the unethical practices of the venture-capital fueled giant tech companies, and it's time for this to just stop. If you don't agree with that statement, you might as ...more
May 22, 2019 rated it did not like it
I can’t believe I wasted my time reading this. A few of the examples are valid (data harvesting and dark patterns) but nothing that anyone living in 2019 doesn’t already know. Everyone involved in a product does have some level of responsibly but not nearly the level the author assumes.

The book falls apart with weak arguments (all of which can easily be debunked) and many of the rants just go over the edge. The author is completely out of touch with reality and the level of arrogance is astonis
Vuk Trifkovic
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very opinionated, in a good way. Very pragmatic, in a good way. Reads well and is entertaining, though a bit predictable.

The thing is, in many ways it jumps to the solution without neccessarily giving tools to people how to think through ethic issues. It is *very* good on giving you tools on how to act on ethic issues.
Shelby Aranyi
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I want to give this three and a half stars, but I'll round up because this book needs to be read by folks in the profession that aren't already highly invested in design ethics.

Reading this feels like a really, really long rant. Because it is. It's probably longer than it needs to be. And if you are already invested in the idea of designers (and those who make things) needing to be ethical then it will feel like a lot of "no shit" and "I already know this" and maybe even "why am I wasting my ti
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The read we need, and probably the one we deserved years ago, is here.

Cynical. Honest. Direct. What's not to love?

The dialogue for this argument on how every aspect of our daily lives is design - or the 'lack' of - is eye opening.
Designer? Pick this one now. 'Non-designer'? Pick it too.

Monteiro opens the case of the evident repercussions of missed ethics whilst designing the current digital products of today. But there's still a salvation - as long as we start doing something about our mess.

Andrea Rossi
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: learn
A must read for anybody working in tech (don't get misled by that Design in the title, it's really about all of us). The book brings back the concept of ethics, which seems to have been long forgotten in the tech scene, and makes a good case for it, highlighting many cases where companies have strayed from the right path. It also gives ideas on what we need to do to start fixing things. The style is also very direct (not a surprise if you know the author) which makes it easy to read and never bo ...more
Kim Pallister
Jan 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Absolutely agree with the message, but chafed a little at the author's conversational style. Don't get me wrong, I'm ok with the occasional F-bomb for proper emphasis. However this read more as blog-rant at times.

Good provocative discussion at the end about licensing designers - not sure I agree, but I like the author pushed the boundary on the discussion.
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I think everyone, background in design or not, should read this book. It's something my mind continues to come back to given I'm grappling with problems spanning the service of design and design services, pervasive and recent technology, business models and values, and systemic societal issues. I would have been super grateful to have read this book back when I was in architecture school a few years ago trying to decide where and how to work and what I believed in. It gets the gears turning, is ...more
Apr 27, 2020 rated it liked it
It’s an easy read, and I don’t doubt that there are a lot of designers who need to hear his message. But if you haven‘t been living under a rock during the last few years, nothing of this should be shocking or surprising. It might be a good intro to young designers into how to be a decent human being. Unfortunately, he repeats a lot of things over and over again, and I feel like I read some passages exactly like this in one of his other books.

Mar 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
It was hard not to compare this to Future Ethics. Where Cennydd Bowles tries to be objective, Mike Monteiro brings a strong opinion and ways to act – I respect the heck out of this book for that.

This is a must read for every designer. If you read it and think 'oh we're not that bad', then you're the problem.
A few basics about design ethics and a handful of talking points about licensing for designers near the end. Has a very narrow worldview (Americentric), with next to no backing research. It reads a lot like a rant, but is humdrum instead of fiery.

I like the idea of this book, the driving premise, but not the execution.
Dec 26, 2019 rated it did not like it

"Humility is just lipstick on a pig called fear." (page 143)

If you decide to read this book, please consider the source...

Mr. Monteiro, I don't know where you get your definition of meek and humility, but it never means backing down and letting people walk on you. Rather, it’s having a quiet but confident trust and being willing and able to do whatever is right from within yourself.

Blatant arrogance won't solve all the problems you wish to solve, sir.

And that's all I have
Kasey Wang
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Real Design? Read this Book.

My friend glances over and says, “Woah - you said this was a design book, but it’s talking about business, lawyers, and politics? I didn’t know Designers [had this much influence].” I smirked wide and remembered they key to the book is that we are gatekeepers, not mere pixel pushers. We do have such influence through our choices.

I let him know, “I’ve been realistically paid more to tell people to stop building dangerous things and to educate other designers on this, t
Harrison Dempsey
Mar 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
An important message wrapped in a signature-Monteiro rant. The book expands on one of his most popular talks in recent years, the key point being; you're responsible for what you put into the world. Watch the talk if you're not into his usual schtick.
Vitor Kneipp
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
A compilation of ethical wrongdoing in Silicon Valley's product design and manifesto for an ethics framework to rule the design profession. That's the meaty part. Read the intro+conclusion if you're only interested in the bigger picture.

Mike Monteiro has several interesting points, most of them pragmatic. Check the notes below.

I discounted one start for the book feels repetitive. Slightly different arguments are drawn from the same set of events and premise in different parts of the book. Exampl
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Some say the clothes make the man. Others say it’s opinions. Co-founder of Mule, Mike likes to have a bet both ways. His 2012 book, Design is a Job, was a love letter to hard work, self-awareness, and the importance of a good tailor.

Mike cultivates his reputation around being serious about design, human rights, a damn fine joke, and the Phillies. His philosophy of supportive antagonism helps Mule

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