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

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  1,419 ratings  ·  198 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
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Kindle Edition, 251 pages
Published April 12th 2019
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 ·  1,419 ratings  ·  198 reviews


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Truce
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
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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
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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
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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
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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.
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Alja
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
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Vy Alechnavicius
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
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.
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
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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
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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.
David Cruz
Nov 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Blunt, no hold bared, opinionated, the is akin to a "Papanek" book for this day and age. You know that when the first page is:
"This book is dedicated to Bahtiyar Duysak, who, for eleven glorious minutes in 2017, deactivated Donald Trump's twitter account"

In the current day of politically correct midfield, Mike just go straight away. It's refreshing! He writes with passion and direct language about the Silicon Valley "ethics" and the responsibility of Designers for the terrible we are currently l
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Hannah
May 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Somewhere in the book, I realized I was reading a long rant. But it was thought provoking and made me think how many of us don't realize what "design" is. Sure, "design" is a broad term and I don't even think it was defined clearly in the book, but there are many things it's certainly not. It's not just making things look nice and pretty. It's not simply creating cool products. Design is pervasive throughout many (if not all) of our decisions and lives and has huge implications to us all... and ...more
Alison Meeks
Nov 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a designer I follow Mike Monteiro on Twitter and his video on YouTube "F*ck you, Pay Me" was a huge influence on framing clear language and boundaries with clients on payment.

When I saw him promoting his new book I was over to Audible straight away to get it. Extra bonus was it was also read by Mike! I've listened several times and always pick out something new or find a bit that is exceptionally relevant to ongoing work.

If you design or create you must read this. Truly what we put out into
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Mpho3
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
7/8/19
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
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Sallar
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.
Celina
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
Ian
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
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Scott
Dec 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
THE MOST TERRIBLE BOOK!

"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
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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.
J
Jun 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Don’t read this as a designer if you are currently or want to be a Silicon Valley Bro. This was suggested to me as a UX Designer whose 2-year program currently does not have a required design ethics course, and I think this is an excellent wake up call to many UX Designers because we do have a moral responsibility to consider the technologies and products we’re designing and testing since we are, in effect, manipulating the user’s way of handling the product and how we format it to the users is ...more
Elbz
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.

Ha
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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.
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Emily
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
Luke
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.
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iversia
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.
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
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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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  Mary Roach is a science author who specializes in the bizarre and offbeat. With a body of work ranging from deep-dives on the history of...
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“Ethics cannot be a side hustle.” 7 likes
“If you believe you need to do what your boss wants because they’re paying you, you also need to believe the doctor should provide the oxycodone if the addict is willing to pay for it. The exchange of cash for services doesn’t supersede ethics. Following unethical orders won’t keep you out of jail.” 6 likes
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