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Today’s creation largely depends on digital tools. Far from being a neutral mean to an artistic achievement, those tools are actually opinionated: they carry values and are full of conventions about the way things “ought” to be done. Because of this, we think it is crucial to raise awareness among practitioners in order to make software and machines into tools to think with (or against), and to let us speculate about future practices and invent tools to support them.

Contrary to other contemporary fields of creation, there is little literature on those questions in the sphere of graphic design. This is why we felt it was important to bring together texts and showcases on this topic into one comprehensive corpus.

With only five exceptions, all materials in this reader is available under licenses that invite re-use, distribution and re-appropriation. This means that texts can circulate freely, and be included in other digital and printed publications; can be translated and otherwise used as necessary.

A reader for designers and developers

Considering your tools is aimed at students and professors involved in (digital) design, but can also provide professional designers and developers with necessary critical texts to better understand the relations between practice and tools. In the academic year of 2013/2014 the reader will for example be in use at École de Recherche Graphique (Brussels), Piet Zwart Institute Media Design (Rotterdam), La Cambre (Brussels) and Arte 10 (Madrid).

Process

The process of editing this publication involved selecting 15 texts written in French, English, and Spanish out of an initial collection of about 130. The editorial team commissioned translations, negotiated rights and invited authors to develop contributions that could cover missing areas. The editiorial team consisted of Stéphanie Vilayphiou and Alexandre Leray supported by a group of co-editors representing different competences and language areas. A mailing-list allowed a larger group of interested participants to contribute. The reader is first of all a web-publication available at http://reader.lgru.net/. We are currently working with a publisher to develop the materials further into a printed book. Of course you are welcome to print your own versions.

Content

The reader is composed of 5 chapters.

Discrete Gestures is about how our body is informed by our digital tools. Reading Interfaces takes on different approaches to computer literacy. The making of the standards is about the social and technical processes behind the elaboration of norms. Myriadic composition tools tackles the question of software as a cultural object through the lens of digital typography.

Finally, Shaping Processes discusses methodologies for open and critical collective practices. For each chapter, a short note problematize the questions behind the texts. A text by Belgian philosopher Isabelle Stengers and a general Introduction give a broader picture on the question of tools and free culture in relation to practices.