2 Mar
Event time in Zürich, Switzerland (CET)
Wed, 1 Mar 2023
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So, you want to build a wind turbine?

We know the planet is burning up. We know our patterns of living contribute to climate change. We also know some ways we might live differently. This knowledge includes many techniques for building local or communal forms of sufficiency for energy, food, and water and soil regeneration. How might Interaction Design contribute to closing this gap between knowledge and action?


This presentation reports on an ongoing study that investigates how Interaction Design might make “how-to” knowledge about ecological technologies more usable, and by doing so, might increase motivation to build them. The study focuses on open source P2P and DIY ecological technologies, such as small-scale wind turbines, aquaponic food producing systems, “living machines” for water filtration, and solar-powered water heaters. Instructions and “how-to” information on these technologies are prevalent on the web. But, instructions alone don’t motivate people to actually build them.


The study is engaging with a two-part hypothesis:

1) Interaction Design can increase the usability—comprehension, task completion, and desirability—of instructions for building open source P2P/DIY ecological technologies.

2) By increasing usability, Interaction Design can also increase motivation to build such technologies.


The study investigates various forms of interactive and digital media “how-to” instructions. The study results in a set of best practices for Interaction Design techniques to translate existing “how-to” knowledge into accessible, usable, and—most importantly—motivating catalysts for building ecological technologies at home or in the community.


The study at the center of this presentation is part of a larger project, which is an attempt to re-imagine interaction design education within a distinctly ecological context. The pilot program for that larger project is the “Solar Punk Design Academy.” This program is being piloted in the context of the postindustrial, urban American Midwest. The study on usability and motivation is the emphasis of the presentation, but that study will be framed within the motivations and objectives of the Solar Punk Design Academy.

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