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Design Worth Defending

Since 9/11, it has been a national fad to link just about every agenda to security and the war on terror. The war in Iraq itself is only the worst example. This is an old tradition; Cold War strategy was once a big part of the justification for massive investment in the Interstate highway system and for taking science education seriously. But this talk, from the 2004 TED (Technology Entertainment Design) conference, is the first time I’ve seen national security used to justify better design.

Though I am firmly part of the large swath of my generation that has decided to blatantly ignore the fact that there is a war on, this question of a society worth defending strikes me as a moving one. All too often, I think, we approach the matter tautologically—thinking that by fighting (bravely, victoriously, etc.) we automatically become a society worth fighting for. This is one of the great fallacies of Iraq, a war fought for freedom that has made us less free. If we built a society truly worth defending, I betcha we’d have a lot fewer enemies to defend against.