Some ramblings on Design Fiction…

So I’m finally going to blog about the course…

Okay, so I have to admit, it’s week three and I really haven’t yet engaged with the course to the best of my ability. I’m not really sure, but something about it just hasn’t grabbed me the way my other classes have so far this semester. It could be because the course started off really vague and I have a short attention span for things I’m not interested in/can’t get my head around (working on it), it could also be because I had some kind of fear of blogging and people actually being able to read what I write which I’m really going to have to overcome. I’ve had my twitter account for 18 months and I’ve never really tweeted anything. Occasionally I retweet things I’ve found of interest, and I only reply to the tweets to people I know in real life, and have had face to face relationships with. For some reason I’m completely frightened of what people I’ve never even met think.

And I love twitter. I spend a huge amount of time on twitter, I love having continuous access to people’s opinions, breaking news and a range of articles and blogs that I’ve found all from one little feed on my phone. And I’m going to forgive Twitter for its little “Hirds getting sacked, not getting sacked, now we’re all confused” meltdown last night, because as awesome as Twitter is for keeping up with the news and assessing opinion, it does have a tendency to misinterpret rumour as fact and then self-implode until someone of authority, in last night’s case a range of journalist’s and Essendon’s media manager*, comes in and tells everyone to basically “calm the [insert word of choice] down, this is what’s happening”.

But back to my original point, I love Twitter. In fact, I love the internet. I’ve watched networks of people and information evolve, but I’ve never really participated in these networks outside of Facebook, I’m not really contributing, which I guess if there’s one thing I’m really starting to pick up from this course, is that to be successful in the future (as well as this course), to be noticed, I need to contribute to these networks in a way that is meaningful and productive. I need to produce media that is interesting and relevant and fits within the networks I want to participate in.

So to kick of my blogging about the course itself (please note I’m still kind of confused) I thought I’d work my way through some readings on the blog, and basically spew some thoughts on the things I’m seeing, hearing and reading and try to engage and focus my attention span.

The topic for this week is Design Fiction which from what I can gather is about imagining and creating things that basically don’t exist yet. It’s a process of envisioning, designing, animating and perhaps prototyping inventions that could well be created and of use in the future. Sci-fi writer Bruce Sterling talks about design fiction as “the deliberate use of diegetic prototypes to suspend disbelief about change.” What this means, I don’t really know, however according to old mate Wikipedia:

Diegesis is a style of fiction storytelling which presents an interior view of a world and is:

  1. that world itself experienced by the characters in situations and events of the narrative
  2. telling, recounting, as opposed to showing, enacting.

Sort of, kind of, okay. The two videos presented in the interview with Bruce give a much better understanding of what design fiction actually is. Interestingly, a video similar to “A Day Made of Glass” appeared on the project a few weeks back. The segment presented was about a new type of substance that had been engineered by Australian scientists made from incredibly thin layers of graphite. The substance, which appeared as a type of glass had an incredible capacity to conduct electricity, was flexible and strong, with scientists imagining in the segment just what the material could be used for.

The Ward reading presents what I’m going to call a slightly more cynical view towards the concept of design fiction. He says there is no such thing as design fiction as design is a form of fiction in itself. My favourite quote from the article is: “We always design for a world that sits, sometimes just slightly, out of sight”. Ward’s 14 points on fiction in design are incredible poignant in the understanding of how design fiction does not exist as niche, but is fundamental to the design process.


*irrelevant high five to Justin Rodski for not releasing a two sentence, and in cases, poorly worded statement (here and here ) as done in recent Essendope related media meltdowns, and simply tweeting from his account as well as the official Essendon account that the rumours were not true. It was simple and on message and didn’t make Essendon, once again, look like defensive heap of crisis management.

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