From mock‐up to module: Development practice between planning and prototype

Deval Desai*, Andrew Lang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In her article from 2019, Fleur Johns describes a change: from a style of develop- ment work marked by a propensity for ‘planning’, to one marked by a propensity for ‘prototyping’. Our project in this paper is to propose a modest shift in perspective. Where Johns traces a transition from old to new styles, we emphasise the endur- ing links between planning and prototyping, such that both styles are best under- stood through their ongoing relationships and entanglements. Returning to Pulse Lab Jakarta (PLJ), the site of Johns’ initial inquiry, we offer a reinterpretation of what might be novel about PLJ for development practice. Our claim is that to under- stand the particular intervention that PLJ represents, and the new modes of practice it produces, it may be helpful to understand PLJ’s work in the manner of a ‘modu- lar’ attachment to existing development apparatuses, that combines big data analyt- ics with design thinking. We then develop some reflections and speculations on the forms and novelty of PLJ in light of our redescription of its work in the language of modularity.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalLaw and Critique
Early online date30 Jul 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jul 2022


  • big data
  • design
  • planning
  • prototyping
  • development
  • policy innovation


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