The New Design Cables: NDCAB0007: Transmitted 1 August 2020

In late 2018, Cade and Rose Regina worked together at Tactical Tech, researching the shift of smartphones from lifestyle items to critical lifelines. Working alongside the NGO’s co-founders, we documented the landscape of smartphone use in communities beyond the typical users. Across universal themes of dependency, identity, and agency — and covering mobility, surveillance, crisis, economic precarity and even device build and resillience — the study is a stark portrait of intersectional technology use, challenging popular assumptions by technology designers and documenting the contradictory roles of smartphones in a rapidly changing society. This is an essential read for anyone who builds digital tools at scale.

Tactical Tech - Smartphone as Lifeline: Designing Technology for a Changing World.
Stephanie Hankey, Cade Diehm, Rose Regina Lawrence and Marek Tuszynski.
Illustration by Ann Kiernan.

Download Report


You can support the New Design Congress via OpenCollective at any amount. We will never place our work behind a paywall, but supporters will be acknowledged in our work, and gain early access to essays, recordings, livestreams and maybe even some planned software tools.

Support our work

We are a research group developing a nuanced understanding of technology's role as a social, political and environmental accelerant. Established 01 Jan 2020, we are a fiscally sponsored project of Simply Secure, a US 501(c)3 nonprofit. 

We actively seek consulting and funding partners. For all enquiries, simply email