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Manifesto for a critical approach to the user interface

Previous notes

  • The interface is a very broad concept that goes beyond the limits of the physical and the virtual. To narrow the intended scope of this manifesto, the nature of the interface we are talking about, refers to the [graphical] user-interface in the digital context.

The Manifesto is written in a reseach contex lided by PIPES team, Hangar Barcelona The Manifesto is contextualized a research team PIPES Hangar Barcelona.

+INFO URL: Web project.


1. The interface is a device designed and used to facilitate the relationship between systems.

2. (To) interface is a verb (I interface, you interface ...). The interface occurs, is action.

3. The interface exists in the crease between space and time; it is a device and simultaneously a situation. It is rendered (updated under thoughtful conditions) and emergent (joining into something new).

4. The interface collects traces: traces and remains of all agents/agencies which converge in it.

5. The  interface is the tip of the iceberg of a complex system of agents/agencies, of  interdependent infrastructures, codes, data, applications,  laws, corporations, individuals, sounds, spaces, behaviors, objects, protocols, buttons, times, affects, effects, defects ...

6. An interface is designed within a cultural context and in turn designs cultural contexts.

7. The interface responds and embodies the economic logic of the system in which you enroll. It is a political device.

8. The ideology of the interface is always embedded in the interface itself, but it is not always visible.

9. Can we make the invisible visible? The more present interfaces are in our lives, the less we perceive them.

10. The interface uses metaphors that create illusions: I am free, I can go back, I have unlimited memory, I am anonymous, I am popular, I am creative, it's free, it's neutral, it is simple, it is universal. Beware of illusions!

11. The standard calls for a universal subject and generates processes of homogenization, but reduces the complexity and diversity . What is not standard?

12. Users are entitled to know what the interface hides. Access to knowledge is a fundamental right.

13. In the design of the interface, not only skills but also emotions and affections are deployed. How are emotions produced and circulated in interfaces?

14. The user uses the interface perform agency, they coproduce each other and therefore they have the ability to define, redefine and contradict themselve by action or omission.

Texts around the interface manifesto

Context of the Project _ By Clara Piazuelo

The interface after the interface _ By Soren Pold

Mística y lógica entorno a la Interfaz _ Por César Escudero

Image------------ Conjuring---------Imagination--------------Magic---------------Metaphor _ By César Escudero Andaluz

Event & Render _ By Jara Rocha

Procesando la experiencia _ Por Jara Rocha

Do We Visualize in Order to Hide? _ By Laia Blasco-Soplon

PIPES Interface – User, Subjectivation, Materiality - Notes _ By Pau Alsina

Signs, Traces, and Remains of Gestures: Notes for navigating interface design in the digital environment. _ By Tere Badia

Nobody Told Us There Were More Buttons _ By Quelic Berga

The Moneticization of Everyday Life _ By Andreu Belsunces

Interfaces: Standardization or Standard-Action? _ By Jorge Luis Marzo

One Size Fits None. Towards Critical Interface Design _ By Rosa Llop

The MakeHuman bugreport v0.2. By Femke Snelting

Propuesta de acciones relacionadas con los puntos del manifesto

En esta sección se presenta un listado de actividades, actitudes y acciones que se recomienda poner en práctica para desarollar una relación actívamente crítica con las interfaces. Se trata de una lista abierta, en proceso de elaboración y de debate que surgió de la sesión de trabajo de redacción final del manifiesto realizada en Hangar el pasado mes de mayo de 2015.

1. La interfaz es un dispositivo diseñado para facilitar la relación entre sistemas.

  • Try to talk with a plant. You need something to help to translate. But the plant will keep on growing without your voice, Do not pay attention to those who stand for speaking to the plants. (1-cP)
  • Use a stand up desk and stretch out while using your computer. Feel your body.
  • 'View source' of a webpage, and try to read even though you don't understand all of it. Underline words you can understand. (1+cA)
  • Call your friends for a detox-party. Locate the place where a favourite software is stored on your computer. Explore the different files, folders, file-types and try to understand what they do. Back-up the folder. Where are the icons stored and can you change them? What files can you op en and what do you see? Are there configuration files you can identify? Try to make modifications using a text editor, and see what happens when you make changes. Take pictures/screenshots of your discoveries. (1>+cA)

2. Interfaz es un verbo (I interface, you interface...). La interfaz ocurre, es acción.

  • Be aware that as a verb, 'interface' affects the substantive and the space and time (1-cA)
  • Be gentle with your keyboard, after 70 years typewriting your fingers will appreciate it. (1+cH)
  • Change the keyboard settings to one that doesn't match the images printed on your keys. Once you get used to it, change again. (1+cH)
  • Gather with friends online and share an Etherpad page. Use it to make jokes, tales or for writing odd essays. (1>+cP)
  • 'View source' of a webpage, and print. Replace each verb you do not understand, by a verb you are familiar with. Read the text out loud. (1+cP)
  • Do not click today. (International Zero-click Day) (1>+cR)

3. La interfaz se da en el pliegue entre el espacio y el tiempo; es dispositivo y situación simultáneamente. Es render (actualiza condiciones pensadas) y emergencia (ensambla algo nuevo). The interface exists in the crease between space and time; it is a device and simultaneously a situation. It is rendered (updated under thoughtful conditions) and emergent (joining into something new).

  • Try to delay your interaction with the interface by counting to 10 before clicking. Count to 100. Wait an hour, a day. (1+cH)
  • Invite yourself to act and perform in a different way. Imagine a different gender, age, location, character, social position for 20 minutes every day. Review how the render changes. (1+cH)
  • Read a book before your next internet connection. The first thing you do when you connect, is to report on what you read. (1+cH)
  • Delay answers, read twice, imagine impact. (1+cH)

4. La interfaz acumula trazas: rastros y restos de todos los (ag)entes que confluyen en ella. The interface collects traces: traces and remains of all agents/agencies which converge in it.

  • Swap computers with your partner for a week. Swap computers with a stranger for a day. (1>+cA)
  • Refuse to be archived. Archive is the register of everything, even those things that are not archivable. (1+cR)
  • Avoid synchronizing your devices ... or you will be hunted and tracked down. (1+cH)
  • Install: Track-me-not, Ghostery or other plugins that block or hack tracking efforts. (1+cH)
  • Use the Google 'search by image' function with a picture of yourself. Look at those who resemble you. Why the hack don't they look like you? (1+cP)
  • Ask someone you trust to collect all traces stored on his/her computer and do the same. Exchange files and describe a character that fits this information. Do the same with someone you don't know (1>+cP)
  • Use a notebook to write down your bookmarks, your contacts, your searches. (1+cA)
  • Keep sending the same portrait if someone asks for it. You will never look older and, at some point, nobody will recognize you in real life. (1+cR)
  • Block the GPS of your phone. If you need to find a place, ask someone. Things will happen. (1-cH)
  • Use your first Nokia 3210 phone again (try not to get too nostalgic about it). (1+cH)
  • Bread crumb your day. (1-cP)
  • Become an Open Data Donor. Only give data deliberately and make sure it stays Open. (1+cW)
  • Connect your computer to a projector and share your screen with your neighborhood. Get used to it, that's our average privacy level. (1>+cA)
  • Make a screenshot of the application you are currently using, and print it. Pin it to your bedroom wall. (1+cP
  • Exercise your right to oblivion. (1>+cR)

5. La interfaz es la punta del iceberg de un sistema complejo de (ag)entes interdependientes: infraestructuras, códigos, datos, usos, leyes, corporaciones, personas, sonidos, espacios, comportamientos, objetos, protocolos, botones, tiempos, afectos, efectos, defectos… The interface is the tip of the iceberg of a complex system of agents/agencies, of interdependent infrastructures, codes, data, applications, laws, corporations, individuals, sounds, spaces, behaviors, objects, protocols, buttons, times, affects, effects, defects ...

  • Build a bicycle from scratch. Now build a submarine. (1-cP)
  • Map all the layers/elements that the interface of a specific application touches. Take a picture of the map and use it as your desktop image. Rework the image after a while. (1+cA)
  • Block or radically change one element out of the list above. For example:
  • Disconnect from the Internet
  • De-install the software you use the most. Cold Turkey. Decide if you do this while on holidays, or better: just before an important deadline. (1+cA)
  • Choose an application you use often, and find out as much as you can about it's makers, business model, cultural background, history, future plans ... (1+cA)
  • Use your computer upside-down (1+cH)
  • Remember: planes DO NOT fly; it's their flying company that flies. (1-cA)

6. Una interfaz está diseñada dentro un contexto cultural y a su vez diseña contextos culturales.

  • Change the interface language to one you don't speak or read (languages that are written in other directions than the one you are used to, are extra useful for this) (+c) (A)(1)
  • Try not to answer about your gender in any telematic form, and see if you can keep your citizenship. (+c)(H)(R)(1)
  • Did you spend you beach day doing selfies? Ask yourself why, and compare the satisfaction of facebook or instagram likes with having enjoyed your time making sand castles. (1>)(+c)(A)
  • Think about yourself as being from a different culture and check if the interface works equal to you.
  • Visit websites from other cultures (Where are you from? ...) and check if the interface works equal to you (+c)(A)(1) [rework exercise, it is important]
  • Intervene and prank one hundred signs of information that inform both outdoors and indoors, both online and offline (1)(A)(+c)
  • Use the accessibility options of the operating system instead of the common ones(+c)(A)(1)
  • Reverse the colors in the whole interface of the operating system. White will become black. (c+)(A)(1)
  • Visit 4Chan and make a friend (1>)(A)(+c)
  • Try to create a fake entry in Wikipedia (+c)(A)(1>)
  • Gather an audience of some 50 people and read aloud, rythmically, elegantly, complete Facebook's Terms and Conditions. Twice. (+c)(P)(1>)
  • Handwrite. With a pencil. With chalk. With a pen. With a brush.

7. La interfaz responde y materializa la lógica económica del sistema en el que se inscribe. Es un dispositivo político.

  • Do not use any free (as in free beer) service for a while. Who does that service really serve? (c+)(H)(1)
  • Try to read the Terms and Conditions before accepting them. Do it regularly. Find company, it will be boring. (c+)(1>)(A)
  • Never click on "like" buttons (R)(-c)(1)
  • Ask regularly, by email, post, phone call or graffiti for an increase of "unlike" buttons (W)(1>)(-c)
  • Look at the logo on the top left, from time to time, every day. (c+)(A)(H)(1)
  • Be conscious of the ads that appear in your screen. Then think about the pages you have visited last, or what did you write in your email. Then you'll probably want to install (c+)(H)(1)
  • Diversify your use of interface-types and support different ways of thinking and doing.(c+)(1>)(A)
  • Try to search all those things and travels you will never buy or make, and please lie on your gender and age: it will confuse the bots and the adds will be more fun. (R)(c+)(1>)
  • Use your search box to make your statements instead of searching something, they will be suggested to other users. i.e. "I am fed up of google tracking me". (R)(c+)(1>)
  • Ask for a free day at work for reinstalling all the software at your computer, but instead go to the dentist. (P)(1)(-c)
  • Ask for a free day at work for mourning the decease of a dear friend, and re-install all the software on your computer. (P)(1)(+c)
  • Make a verkami for your own tubal ligation surgery (P)(R)(1>)(+c)
  • Join Amazon Mechanical Turk for 24 hours non-stop. How much have you earned? (A) (+c)(1)
  • Remember that Ronald Reagan once said, when he visited Nintendo Headquarters: "We'll have soldiers in every bedroom" (A)
  • Do not click today. (International Zero-click Day) (1>+cR)

8. La ideología de la interfaz está siempre incrustada en la propia interfaz, pero no siempre es visible.

  • Search for the portraits of programmers on-line: a face can tell you more than a thousand lines of code... (P)(+c)(1)
  • Try to meet the programmers of your software, and ask them to explain their decisions to you.(A)(W)(1>)(-c)
  • Use different search engines, social platforms, operating systems, and compare the differences to see what has been invisibilized in each of them. (A)(+c)(1)
  • Try from time to time to open your windows in command-line mode(H)(c+).
  • Practice using the command line and have your computer start up like that. [FS adds an exercise] (H)(+c)(1)
  • Make your own apps... to later throw them away (P)(+c)(1)
  • Try to call the company that provided you with an interface and file a complaint. Share your experience on a non-commercial social network. (+c)(W)(H)(1>)
  • Each day read a paragraph of the terms and conditions. Only one. Every day.(A)(+c)(1)

9 ¿Se puede hacer visible aquello invisible? Cuanto más presentes están las interfaces en nuestras vidas menos las percibimos.

  • Change the typography of your browser to a gothic blackletter. Or Dingbats (for a more advanced exercise). (A)(P)(+c)(1)
  • How many times do you remember you're shifting gears when driving? Speak the gear number loud every time you do it.(P)(1)(-c)
  • Tonight write on a paper what interfaces you have used. Tomorrow score how long have you been using each. Do it every day this week.(A)(1)(-c)
  • Draw your own interfaces. (+c)(1>)(A)
  • Form a community with software/interface developers and convince them to change the world. (W)(1>)(-c)
  • Learn Javascript and/or C++ and change the world. (c+)(W)(1>)
  • Don't use emoticons: just send oral-spoken messages to say you hate it! "I'm blind cos I see images" (Mahmud Shabistari) (1>)(P)(W)(+c)

10. Las interfaces utilizan metáforas que generan ilusiones: soy libre, puedo volver atrás, tengo memoria ilimitada, soy anónimo, soy popular, soy creativo, es gratis, es neutral, es simple, es universal ¡Cuidado con las ilusiones!

  • Look at your bookmarks, try to remember why you bookmarked them C/A
  • Have you really read all that articles on your reading list? C/H
  • Complain about the fake illusions you have experienced. 1>/-C
  • Make a mark on your desktop whenever the interface makes you feel bad R/P/A/H/+-C.
  • When you have made more than 100 marks, file a complaint 1/+C/A.
  • See with your colleagues if their complaints were heard. If not, use the time it would take to file another complaint, to learn how to install and modify software that you can change. Don't do this on your own.+C/A 1>H
  • Did you know that the first photographic camera, the first washing machine, the first transistor radio, the first Mac and the first windows had the same slogan? "YOU JUST CLICK, WE DO THE REST". A
  • Do not forget that every new experience takes time and energy to process. A
  • Imagine your desktop is a kitchen, a garden, a hospital, a computer. Now, imagine it using no metaphor P/A.
  • Spy on your partner's bookmarks history and talk to him/her about it. 1>A
  • Don't delete your bookmarks history after watching porn. It's useless, Google always remembers. H/1+C
  • Use internet as if you were a terrorist that is planning an attack (just for one day) P/A/+C
  • Call 5 random facebook friends and ask them for money P/1>
  • Perform Ctrl+Z on real life. Invent new gestures to bring digital possibilities to oral conversations, like Ctrl+Z. P/A/-C
  • Hang that picture of you were you look old and fat, compare the amount of likes with that one where you look gorgeous A/+C/1>
  • Cover your computer camera with a sticker so that the world doesn't see you in those lousy underwear pants....A/H/+C
  • Open the spam! Trust people you don't know. Read them carefully and open all invitations! A/+C/1>
  • If you were an interface, which kind of interface will you be? (P)
  • Look at your computer's screen and browser while looking at a mirror, and try to write and send 4 important emails like that.

11. El estándar creado en la interfaz apela a un sujeto universal y genera procesos de homogeneización, pero reduce la complejidad y la diversidad ¿Qué excluye el estándar?

  • Are you ready to shift to a new keyboard? Are you aware that the one you use -QWERTY- was made for 10 fingers and your mobile device is just used with two thumbs? Would you try a new keyboard? A/ W/1>
  • Use the keyboard just using your elbows P/+C/1
  • Use the keyboard with your nose P/+C/1
  • Use the keyboard with you toes. P/+C/1
  • Use your mouse with your left hand if you usually use it with the right one, or the other way around. A/P/+C/1
  • Do not use the keyboard today. H/-C/1
  • Close your eyes for 10 minutes and try to use your devices. Get aid by the accessibility tools, and see how it goes. A/+C
  • Did you know that "DIY" (Do it yourself) was firstly promoted by MasterCard? A -C
  • You're not universal; you don't have only one verse. P/A-C
  • Do you still write a personal diary? If not, write one for two weeks, and then compare. What happened to that deep teenage thoughts? P
  • Art exclude the standart. P
  • Change the language of your OS to one you do not know. H/A/+C/P

12. Los usuarios tienen derecho a conocer aquello que oculta la interfaz. El acceso al conocimiento es fundamental para poder ejercer las libertades.

  • Don't pay any attention to those who claim about voting in elections clicking buttons. There's no real democracy in clicking buttons. A/-C
  • Give three examples of each: freedom of speech, surveillance, privacy, security A/-C
  • Learn some new functionality every day. H/
  • Make a donation to Wikipedia, Mozilla Foundation, Free Software Foundation, ...W
  • Learn code, html, css... A/H+C
  • Knowledge is not the archive. The archive is a way to control knowledge. A
  •  !!Open source!! H/W
  • Go and play to some online multiplayer shooting game. Try to calm them down first. And later, try to explain how everything is programmed. Use the less important weapon so you won't be seen as a menace. Chat to other players about art or cooking. You can get lots of surprises. People are great, even online, they're still people: W/1>

13. En el diseño de la interfaz no sólo se despliegan capacidades sino también emociones y afectos. ¿Cómo se producen y circulan las emociones en y con las interfaces?

  • From time to time, choose some messages you want to comunicate, and avoid sending an email, post, sms, message and try to do it in real life to see how it feels. -C/H
  • Right. Phone people randomly and tell them you feel bad. It's a way some psychologists try to help people with anxiety.-C/H
  • Never, never smile when photographed. Stop the happy flow. Even better: pretend to take pictures but instead take videos, and don't tell the person. You'll see how smiles fade away. A/H
  • Draw your own emoticons P
  • Have breakfast first, then connect. It is not necessary turn on your smartphone in the bed. Or: connect first and have no breakfast. H -C
  • Switch off your telephone, turn of your laptop, stop your clock, and go for a walk or take a tram, you will start to feel things u forgot about. H -C
  • Find out if you feel the same as sending a hug on a short message or hugging a real person, once a day. H-C
  • Write a letter -C / P /
  • Did you know that in Finland handwriting is now out of the school learning? A
  • Forget your mobile at home during a day. Leave the phone at the office over the weekend. A -C
  • Laugh out loud every time you put a smiley A H
  • Kiss the screen P A
  • The means of emotion predictions are today's means of production A
  • Do you ever feel sad after watching porn graphic interfaces? A
  • ¿what's your favourite website? ¿why? A
  • Share your fears in the social networks. Then share your neckline (sorry feminists :S , I don't find a male correlate). Compare. (A)

14. El usuario y la interfaz performan agencia, se coproducen y por lo tanto tienen la capacidad de definirse, redefinirse y contradecirse por acción u omisión.

Focus: User

  • Hack the interface and use it in a different way. I.e. write a text using a design software, do a drawing using a text editor, use a a social network to be unpopular... H/P +C
  • Think about what the interface wants you to do, and try not to obey. R
  • Unsubscribe and delete often.H/
  • Computers are a fashion that will pass away (my mum). P
  • Do not undo for today. Just go with the flow :) A / W / R
  • Start a campaign for some "maybe" buttons. Otherwise in a few generations we will not know how to hesitate. W / P
  • Choose an application you use often, and try to crash it. R
  • Install another operating system. It is possible. R/W +C
  • Create your stupid operating system and show it to your friends. R/W +C
  • Practice saying: I don't have a Google account. Repeat as many times as necessary. Then: delete your account.
  • Practice saying: I use Linux. Repeat as many times as necessary. Then: install
  • Practice saying: I don't use Facebook. Repeat as many times as necessary. Then: delete your account.

Focus: Interface

  • If you use Twitter, try to think how often do you try to fit your thoughts in 140 characters A
  • My mum is a fashion that will pass away (the computer). P
  • If you use Google Keep, try to voice-record something. If you don't speak for two seconds it will switch off. Can you think and talk faster? There's no alternative, if you need more time, try an other app. A
  • Try to do the same that your Graphical User Interface does: say "I'm not available" to someone at least 10 times every week A / R


  • Install another operating system. It is possible. (14)
  • Create your stupid operating system and show it to your friends. (14)
  • Make a screenshot of the application you are currently using, and print it. Pin it to your bedroom wall. (4)
  • Choose an application you use often, and try to crash it. (14)
  • Write a manifesto about something
  • Practice saying: I don't have a Google account. Repeat as many times as necessary. Then: delete your account. (14)
  • Practice saying: I use Linux. Repeat as many times as necessary. Then: install (14)
  • Practice saying: I don't use Facebook. Repeat as many times as necessary. Then: delete your account. (14)
  • Nothing, try to do nothing.
  • If you were an interface, which kind of interface will you be? (10)
  • The next presentation you make in public, use an interface that you have used at most for a week. Expect to fail, and deal with it in public.(15)
  • Everytime you receive a pop-up, read it aloud S H O U T I N G ! (7)
  • Get out of Gmail. Get together, bring food and music because it will take time, and will have emotional impact. Research how you can avoid not to export e-mails one by one. Think together about what you can do with your YouTube videos and account, files on Google Drive and Google Docs and Google Calendar. R (15)(14)
  • Use OpenStreetMap every time you would have used Google Maps
  • If a device breaks, take a break before repairing or replacing. You will be surprised.
  • Browse by IP-closeness [URL]


   Things to do on your own
   Things to do with your computer
   Things to do with others
   Things to do without your computer


   Create poetics P
   Create awareness A
   Change your habits H
   Change the world W
   Resistance (R)

Enlaces al proyecto PIPES

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