More Thoughts on Design Fiction and Future Fabbing

I didn't want to hold up the recap post on the Design Fiction presentation and workshop with more philosophical baggage than necessary, but reflecting on the lecture and discussion, workshop, and class discussion, a few notes are still hanging out there, and questions remain to be explored that I hope can be further mined in the next episode, so to speak.

  • What is the role in future-provocation that fabrication can play? More than creating scenarios, personae or other models taken from assembled "data" parts, can the process of synthesizing signals and trends to get to fabrication—making as bringing a vision to life—give us a different or more effective outcome, and in which contexts? What is the efficacy of creating artifacts as social objects about the future? These are questions that some have started to explore, but if taken to more of a rapid prototyping, "fab-lab" type approach, do the benefits change, become greater or more diluted? Do they bring more people into the process, or more positions?
  • What is the interplay between current fact or forecasted "fact" (i.e. long-term demographic or technological change where forces are in motion today) and "future" fiction, and can it be harnessed in a more methodical fashion?  Standing in the role of the futurist, particularly of what I'd call the active variety that seeks to probe and try new approaches, the motion between current fact, future fiction, and back again seems pretty fluid. Doing this leap every day, one gets pretty comfortable working in this back-and-forth space of reality and extrapolation, making the crossing into alternative mental models and spaces and back relatively easily. The gameplay state we get into using lightweight tools such as cards to trigger thinking is one option, developing slightly more sophisticated play techniques may take this further. After all, isn't this sort of rapid, simulated decision making what we have spent most of our lives in front of a sheet of graph paper and 20-sided dice, PC game or Xbox doing?
  • What are the politics of Design Fiction, and of more rapid future-fabbing? We discussed the breakout of "guerilla futures" from more traditional strategic foresight and design, and even talked about going as far as more aggressive tactics of what I would loosely call "futurejacking," using future-fabbing as a kind of offensive weapon against inertia or outright future-phobia, or simply as a first-strike capability (here's my vision, what are you going to do about it?). Politics creep in even now, as communities and countries make bold moves to project their own "owned" vision of their future—Shanghai or Dubai come to mind, as do small communities that have decided to go boldly local and sustainable.

We will continue to push these ideas around through both talking and making. Comments and contributions are welcomed.