Following on from the last post about the Neuros MPEG4 recorder, looking on the Neuros website reveals something pretty unusual for a company involved in consumer product design - a clear statement of design philosophy, 'What do we stand for?' that's heavy on content and light on vague rhetoric:
"Your Digital Rights and Why They’re Important to You
Throughout the history of technology, Hollywood has fought innovation at every turn. Even technologies that benefit the studios, and that we take for granted, exist only because someone fought the studios for their very existence
The more such legislation [e.g. Analog Hole Bill] gets passed, the less innovation consumers will see, and the fewer options you will have for enjoying your content
There are two opposing forces at odds here. On the one hand, there are exciting new technologies that offer more and more choices for consumers to access and enjoy digital media when and where they want it. On the other, there is Big Media and a few of its powerful allies working behind the scenes to limit consumer choices to when and where they want it. How this all plays out will depend on how the rest of us respond in the coming days, weeks and months."
The statement even exhorts customers to get involved with the EFF and to get in touch with their elected representatives, which is again a great initiative.
This is just the kind of intelligent engagement by product designers & engineers with the political implications of - and influences on - their work for which I've been looking throughout the 'Architectures of Control' project. Whether it meets the kind of criteria proposed by Jennie Winhall's 'Is Design Political?', I don't know, but by standing up for users' rights in such an open and frank way, and indeed structuring its business around that philosophy, Neuros seems a lot closer to real user-centred design than the vague waffle so often promulgated as such.