Designed for Care: Systems of Care and Accountability in the Work of Mobility

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Nissan Research Center – Silicon Valley; Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Nissan Research Center – Silicon Valley

In this paper we explore the idea of a system of care through a city transit system. We argue that a systematic orientation to care is central to what makes a transit system work for people. Further, we suggest that this care orientation is recognized as such, even though it is not apparent in typical modes of systems management. Care is what knowing in this system is for. We examine how participants in the system navigate different epistemic bases of their work, focusing on how care work and information work intertwine. How is this work practiced and known? And how could we, as design researchers, use these practices to design systems of care? In service of these goals, we expand the notion of care work toward care of non-human actors as well as that of people. We focus particularly on the roles of automation and the risks automation presents for care. In a moment of increased automation in the workplace, what happens to the care of people and things? We argue that the systemic aspect of care, operating at multiple scales toward people and things alilke, is important for maintaining the goods the organization seeks to produce. And we propose a list of critical questions to ask when designing new systems to shape their orientation toward care.

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