Tools  |  ,   |  May 15, 2012

The Envisioning Cards: A Toolkit For Catalyzing Humanistic And Technical Imaginations

Toolkit developed by the Batya Friedman, Lisa Nathan, Shaun Kane, and John Lin at the Value Sensitive Design Lab at the University of Washington.

Designers often focus on the immediate context of use: how will a product be used by the person who purchases it? Designers rarely have the time to consider the long-term and indirect effects of their technologies. How will use of the product affect the user’s family and neighbors? If use of the product becomes common, how will it affect the larger community? How will people in a different culture adapt the product to their needs? What happens to the product after it’s thrown away?

We feel it is important to envision the long-term influence of new technology – as it spans across time, becomes pervasive throughout society, affects the lives of different stakeholders, and raises issues that touch human values. Based on nearly two decades of work in Value Sensitive Design, the Envisioning Cards are designed to evoke consideration and discussion of such concerns within the context of design practice.

Download and experiment with five sample envisioning cards: Sample Envisioning Cards

Related Article

The cards were first introduced in May 2012 at the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.
Article from the conference available at or on the old VSD site.
Abstract: We introduce the Envisioning Cards – a versatile toolkit for attending to human values during design processes – and discuss their early use. Drawing on almost twenty years of work in value sensitive design, the Envisioning Cards are built upon a set of four envisioning criteria: stakeholders, time, values, and pervasiveness. Each card contains on one side a title and an evocative image related to the card theme; on the flip side, the card shows the envisioning criterion, elaborates on the theme, and provides a focused design activity. Reports from the field demonstrate use in a range of research and design activities including ideation, co-design, heuristic critique, and more.