Of course the Critical Engineer manifesto starts counting at 0.

As a whole I think the manifesto is very similar to the unspoken oath we take as designers. We look to other disciplines and fields to learn and re-apply their methods. At CMU it is mandatory for all designers to take classes such as Intro to Psychology, Systems, Cultures, and Futures. We are constantly taught to think about how design works with the user, the people included in the production of the design, and the society and culture it will live in. We are taught to think of unintended uses and unpredicted malicious affordances. We are always looking past the shiny and pretty, and looking for true innovation and disruption. I think I really resonated withe piece and that with a bit of change in language, it could easily be the designer’s manifesto. I guess this piece really showed the that critical and engineer and the conscious designer are sisters in a sense.

The only piece that I felt a bit of confusion and that I needed to delve further into was the last. 10. The Critical Engineer considers the exploit to be the most desirable form of exposure.

After struggling to get past the word exploit, I looked it up to be sure I was interpreting it correctly.

  1. a bold or daring feat: the most heroic and secretive exploits of the war.
  2. a software tool designed to take advantage of a flaw in a computer system, typically for malicious purposes such as installing malware: if someone you don’t know tweets you a link, it’s either spam, an exploit, or probably both.

I just think that the two definitions give different, but equally interesting meanings to the final piece of the manifesto. The critical engineer finds that the greatest achievement or challenge is the most preferred way of being viewed. It could also be interpreted as the critical engineer the flaw or the bug the best way to objectively see the system. Is it our greatest flaw or our greatest achievement that will show off our truest self?

After showing the manifesto with my peer, an electrical computer engineer major, I asked for his opinion. He thought the piece was elegant and incredibly accurate, and mentioned that he thought that all engineers should be required to read it. I asked which was his favourite, and he too picked the 10th tenant. He provided an alternative, and probably more accurate, interpretation. He explained that getting hacked would be the greatest form of flattery. If your work is getting hacked then it suggests that the work is big enough or important enough for someone else to spend time trying to break it. In essence, the engineer believes that if their work is being exploited, this means their work is good enough to be worth trying to exploit.


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