Tagged: future technologies


Design fiction has been usefully defined as:

…an approach to design that speculates about new ideas through prototyping and storytelling.

There’s that word again! Speculate. The concept and practice of design fiction lives in the space of conventions where artists and scientists get together. One of design fiction’s original mutations is the science-fiction genre novel. In an interview with sci-fi author Bruce Sterling, the whole concept of suspending belief in order to imagine change (in terms of potential objects and services) is interrogated.

What I can glean, is that design fiction is a literal presentation of The Future of Objects. I can see how artists and scientists alike are engaging. Sterling explains that the main way this is done is through video presentations containing a series of vignettes of people interacting with objects and services, as opposed to straight out science-fiction feature films. The emphasis is on participating in the creation of future gadgets, literally designing for the future, rather than telling futuristic stories with ‘Avatar-style heroics’:

It’s not a kind of ficiton. It’s a kind of design. It tells worlds rather than stories.

Clearly, there’s never been a shortage of science-fiction cinema. I just watched Blade Runner (1982) for the first time last night – I hope that’s not what 2019 will look like. Matthew Ward’s article on design fiction in design education roots these ideas in a more relevant context. His reading is a direct follow on from Adrian’s ideas on speculation, of looking forward. Literally, how has design fiction been left out of educational practice and, how has the activity of speculation been left out of education?

It makes a lot of sense it terms of design:

Whether a week, month, year or decade away, designers produce propositions for a world that is yet to exist.

How does this relate to me? Well, in some ways I guess I am a designer too. Strip that title of its general connotations to graphic, interior, fashion, app, architect, industrial: in my Professional Communications trajectory, I am a designer of words, media, communications strategies and ideas into meaningful wholes. Wow – liberating in the Dziga Vertov kinda way! The term designer in this sense lends itself to connotations in the ruminative fields of re-arranger, bricklayer, or projectionistI like how this course is encouraging me to come to terms with my eventual, yet impending graduation and what happens then. Yes, my thoughts are legitimate contributions but only if I use them in the right way.

I sense I have detected a mindset of Model I behaviour, the very act of discovery lending itself to Model II behaviour.

Photo: By author


This week the New York Times reported that Silicon Valley tycoons like Google are working on a new ‘thing’ called predictive search. These tools will ultimately act like a pocket PA from your iPhone, anticipating what you need or where you need to be before you’re even late. Creepy:

How does the phone know? Because an application has read your e-mail, scanned your calendar, tracked your location, parsed traffic patterns and figured out you need an extra half-hour to drive to the meeting.

Engineers explained that it’s such an advanced ‘search’, it doesn’t require people to enter a search querie – the querie is the users individual context (location, time of day and digital activity).

On the creep factor, experts said it might be great for 30-something Silicone Valley geeks, but not so much for 60-something executives. Still:

The technology is emerging now because people are desperate for ways to deal with the inundation of digital information, and because much of it is stored in the cloud where apps can easily access it.

A great example of speculative thinking.