Design for wellbeing during Covid-19: A cybernetic perspective on data feedback loops in complex socIotechnical systems

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Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has put wellbeing on the global agenda like never
before. Many businesses, organizations, and even governments have recognized
wellbeing as a formal policy goal. This paper addresses the question of how to design
complex systems to improve the wellbeing of their stakeholders. We present a case of
helping a university adopt a systematic approach to wellbeing assessment and
improvement during the COVID-19 crisis. To support the improvement of student and
staff wellbeing, we adopted a cybernetic perspective. Practically, this involved focusing
on the design of a feedback loop that used wellbeing assessments to inform
organizational actions. We argue that “off-the-shelf” assessments of wellbeing are
often insufficient for supporting a systemic response to data because they lack
context-sensitivity and actionability. While a “cybernetic perspective” may evoke a
sense of the inhuman or mechanical in the optimization of wellbeing, our case study
suggests otherwise. At least from our perspective, a society that aims to improve
wellbeing may look more like a deliberative or dialogical democracy than an
automated AI system.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDesign Research Society (DRS2022)
Place of PublicationBilbao
PublisherDesign Research Society
Number of pages13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventDRS 2022 - Bilbao, Spain
Duration: 25 Jun 20223 Jul 2022
https://www.drs2022.org

Conference

ConferenceDRS 2022
Country/TerritorySpain
CityBilbao
Period25/06/223/07/22
Internet address

Keywords

  • cybernetics
  • wellbeing
  • governance
  • pandemic
  • design for wellbeing

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