Using Design to Solve the World’s Problems (Or At Least Make Them Understandable)

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At PRINT, we have an informal rule: Don’t cover too many Kickstarters. (Reason being, we get approached to cover a lot of them, and if we took on every one, we’d turn into Kickstarter magazine … and potentially hype our readers for campaigns that don’t pan out.) … But damn, there have been some great ones lately. The power of crowdfunding has been on full display, bucking the traditional publishing process and putting control directly in the hands of creators.

Six years ago, the British design agency Human After All launched Weapons of Reason to help readers understand wildly complex global issues with simplicity and utter readability. The project’s success has been fueled by two key factors: The reporting of objective journalists, and stellar design and illustration. In chorus, they fulfill Weapons of Reason’s goal of revealing the essence of a subject.

So far, the issues have covered the following … issues:

  • Global Challenge #1: The Environment, with a focus on the Arctic

  • Global Challenge #2: Population, with a focus on megacities

  • Global Challenge #3: Health, with a focus on “the new old”

  • Global Challenge #4: Society, with a focus on authoritarian populism

  • Global Challenge #5: Sustenance, with a focus on the global food network

  • Global Challenge #6: Technology, with a focus on AI

  • Global Challenge #7: Inequality, with a focus on building better societies

  • Global Challenge #8: Conflict, with a focus on war—“an essential tool of statecraft and empire building.”

As for the genesis of the project:

“Why did we do it? Well, it’s just what we do. We are magazine makers with 15 years of experience. We launched Little White Lies magazine in the UK. We’ve published magazines for Google, Participant Media and The World Economic Forum. And we created the book Curious Iconic Craft that explained everything we'd learned from a decade of making magazines, and launched it right here on Kickstarter. We understand how to communicate in print, but we didn’t necessarily understand the complexity of the world.”

Now, 120 stories and 150,000 words later, the team is releasing the sum toll of their learnings in a hardcover book. But it won’t just be a facsimile edition; Humans After All is updating the pieces, and then analyzing them and identifying the issue at the core of the world’s problems: short-term thinking in global leadership. IDEO Executive Chair Tim Brown is also contributing a foreword.

Cover: Giacomo Bagnara

The Kickstarter is currently past the halfway point, with 23 days to go (and some sweet rewards, such as art prints of the inspired cover illos).

All told, as Human After All co-founder Danny Miller writes, “We think this book shows how vital design, illustration and storytelling can be in these uncertain times.”

Find out more about it all here.