robertogreco + superflux   25

SpeculativeEdu | Superflux: Tools and methods for making change
"Anab Jain and Jon Ardern of Superflux (“a studio for the rapidly changing world”) talk to James Auger about their approach, their recent projects, and their educational activities.

Superflux create worlds, stories, and tools that provoke and inspire us to engage with the precarity of our rapidly changing world. Founded by Anab Jain and Jon Ardern in 2009, the Anglo-Indian studio has brought critical design, futures and foresight approaches to new audiences while working for some of the world’s biggest organisations like Microsoft Research, Sony, Samsung and Nokia, and exhibiting work at MoMA New York, the National Museum of China, and the V&A in London. Over the last ten years, the studio has gained critical acclaim for producing work that navigates the entangled wilderness of our technology, politics, culture, and environment to imagine new ways of seeing, being, and acting. The studio’s partners and clients currently include Government of UAE, Innovate UK, Cabinet Office UK, Red Cross, UNDP, Mozilla and Forum for the Future. Anab is also Professor at Design Investigations, University of Applied Arts, Vienna.

[Q] You practice across numerous and diverse fields (education, commercial, gallery). Does your idea of speculative design change for each of these contexts? How do you balance the different expectations of each?

We don’t tend to strictly define our work as “Speculative Design”. Usually we say we are designers or artists or filmmakers. Speculative Design is gaining traction lately, and we might have a client of two who knows the term and might even hire us for that, but usually they come to us because they want to explore a possible future or a different narrative, or investigate a technology. We think our work investigates a potential rather than speculating on a future. Speculation is an undeniable part of the process but it is not the primary motivation behind our work. Our work is an open-ended process of enquiry, whilst speculation can at times feel like a closed loop.

[Q] There is a tendency, in many speculative design works, towards dystopian futures. It seems that as with science fiction, apocalyptic futures are easier to imagine and tell as stories. Focusing on your CCCB installation, Mitigation of Shock, how would you describe this project in terms of its value connotation? What is the purpose of such a project?

For us, Mitigation of Shock is actually not apocalyptic at all, but instead a pragmatic vision of hope, emerging from a dystopian future ravaged by climate change. On a personal level, it can be difficult for people to imagine how an issue like global warming might affect everyday life for our future selves, or generations to come. Our immersive simulation merges the macabre and the mundane as the social and economic consequences of climate change infiltrate the domestic space.

The installation transports people decades into the future (or perhaps even closer on the horizon), into an apartment in London which has been drastically adapted for living with the consequences of climate catastrophe. Familiar, yet alien. A domestic space alive with multispecies inhabitants, surviving and thriving together in an indoor microcosm. Climate projections from the beginning of the century have unfurled into reality, their consequences reverberating across the globe. Climate catastrophes shatter global supply chains. Economic and political fragility, social fragmentation, and food insecurity destabilise society.

Rather than optimistically stick our heads in the sand, or become overwhelmed with fear, we decided to catapult ourselves and others directly into a specific geographical and cultural context to experience the ripple effects of extreme weather conditions. Hope often works best alongside tools for proactively tackling future challenges. Which is why, in this year-long experimental research project, we explored, designed and built an apartment located in a future no one wants, but that may be on the horizon. Not to scare, or overwhelm, but to help people critically reflect upon their actions in the present, and introduce them to potential solutions for living in such a future. The evidence in the apartment may reflect a different future, but all the food apparatus was in fully working condition, no speculation there. We wanted to demonstrate that we have the tools and methods we need to make the change today.

[Q] We are living in complicated times – politically, environmentally, culturally. After several years of speculative and critical design evolution, do you think that it can have a more influential role in shaping futures/alternatives beyond the discussions that typically take place in the design community?

We wrote a little bit about this here: https://medium.com/superfluxstudio/stop-shouting-future-start-doing-it-e036dba17cdc.

[Q] Could it adopt more political or activist role? If so, how could this aspect be incorporated into education?

Yes definitely. Our latest project Trigger Warning explores this very space: https://mod.org.au/exhibits/trigger-warning. And then a completely different project: http://superflux.in/index.php/work/future-of-democracy-algorithmic-power/#temp.

[Anab] Also my students at the Angewandte will be exploring the theme of “futures of democracy” in the upcoming semester.

[Q] Coming from India but educated at the RCA, what was your take on the “privilege” discussion via Design and Violence? More specifically, what can we learn from this debate? How can it push speculative design forwards?

[Anab] I sensed an underlying assumption in that debate that anybody from the West was seen as “privileged” and anyone from any other colonised country is not. Whilst there is a long and troubling history to colonisation in India, I do bear in mind that India was always a battleground for clans and dynasties from other countries long before the West came and colonised it. These issues are very complex, and I think the only way we can attempt to understand them is by avoiding accusations and flamewars, but instead opening up space for everyone’s voice to be heard.

As things stands today, even though I come from India, a lot of people would argue that, within India, I am privileged because I had the opportunity to choose my education path and the person I want to marry. On the other hand, I know lots and lots of people in the West (white/male even) who are disempowered because of systemic privilege within the West. So discussions of race, gender expression and privilege are much more granular than simplistic accusations, and I strongly believe that designers who address complex issues, whilst battling student loans and rents, should be applauded, not condemned.

[Q] How can we resist or overcome the situation where avant-garde design practices, established as a resistance to the dominant system, ultimately become appropriated by the system?

If we successfully overturn capitalism, the rest will follow."
superflux  2019  anabjain  jonardern  jamesauger  design  designfiction  speculativefiction  speculativedesign  capitalism  democracy  climatechange  education  marrtive  film  filmmaking  art  artists  potential  inquiry  open-ended  openendedness  hope  globalwarming  future  politics  activism  india  colonialism  colonization  complexity  privilege  openended 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Frontiers of Design - Anab Jain
["Kill your own profession whilst gushing."
https://twitter.com/anabjain/status/997419243988713472 ]

["“It has become a moment where design really feels like part of the problem”. @anabjain, Co-Founder and Director at @Superflux, share her thoughts on the Frontiers of Design. #frontiersofdesign #timewellspent #design https://frontiersfilm.com/voice/anab-jain "
https://twitter.com/doberman/status/997415130882367488 ]
anabjain  design  ethics  superflux  responsibility  2018 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Impakt Festival 2017 - Performance: ANAB JAIN. HQ - YouTube
[Embedded here: http://impakt.nl/festival/reports/impakt-festival-2017/impakt-festival-2017-anab-jain/ ]

"'Everything is Beautiful and Nothing Hurts': @anab_jain's expansive keynote @impaktfestival weaves threads through death, transcience, uncertainty, growthism, technological determinism, precarity, imagination and truths. Thanks to @jonardern for masterful advise on 'modelling reality', and @tobias_revell and @ndkane for the invitation."
https://www.instagram.com/p/BbctTcRFlFI/ ]
anabjain  2017  superflux  death  aging  transience  time  temporary  abundance  scarcity  future  futurism  prototyping  speculativedesign  predictions  life  living  uncertainty  film  filmmaking  design  speculativefiction  experimentation  counternarratives  designfiction  futuremaking  climatechange  food  homegrowing  smarthomes  iot  internetofthings  capitalism  hope  futures  hopefulness  data  dataviz  datavisualization  visualization  williamplayfair  society  economics  wonder  williamstanleyjevons  explanation  statistics  wiiliambernstein  prosperity  growth  latecapitalism  propertyrights  jamescscott  objectivity  technocrats  democracy  probability  scale  measurement  observation  policy  ai  artificialintelligence  deeplearning  algorithms  technology  control  agency  bias  biases  neoliberalism  communism  present  past  worldview  change  ideas  reality  lucagatti  alextaylor  unknown  possibility  stability  annalowenhaupttsing  imagination  ursulaleguin  truth  storytelling  paradigmshifts  optimism  annegalloway  miyamotomusashi  annatsing 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Anab Jain on Twitter: "How might we extend our capacities, becoming more-than-human? Provocative @alxndrt contribution for #howwillwework https://t.co/rZSxLCGTDB"
"How might we extend our capacities, becoming more-than-human? Provocative @alxndrt contribution for #howwillwework"

[photo of this text:

"When it comes to judging the capacities of humans and nonhumans, we are drawn to two modes of existence. In one mode, we are compelled to see capability as residing within an actor, as an intrinsic quality of their being. A favourite determinant is the brain-weight to body-weight ratio; another is genetic predisposition. We have devised all manner of tests to isolate human and nonhuman capacities: IQ tests, rats mazes and Turing tests among them. Naturally, humans come out on top using most counts.

In the second mode, we observe actors excel in their achievements. We allow ourselves to be surprised and delighted by exhibitions of capacity that exceed our expectations (and that contravene the first mode in so many ways). To find evidence of this mode, one need only turn to that vast repository of record and observation, YouTube, and witness the viewing numbers for titles like “species [x] and species [y] playing together“, “species [x] and species [y] unlikely friends”, and so on. As these titles suggest, capability is often recognised here as accomplished with others—with other objects, other actors, other critters.

Speculating on human capacities—on what humans might be capable of and how they might work in the future—I find myself asking, as the animal studies scholar Vinciane Despret does, which of these modes is ‘more interesting’ and which ‘makes more interesting’. Which of these modes invites us to speculate on new tabulations of actors of all kinds, of actors becoming-with each other, of becoming other—than-humanly-capable‘ of becoming more capable?

I am taken by the mode that views capability as collectively achieved and that invites those conditions that enlarge capacities through on-going interminglings.

The future of work, through this mode, will be dictated not by the limits of being human, but by how we might best attune ourselves with others, how we might become more capable together.

Alex Taylor. Researcher: Soda-Digital Systems"]
work  future  furtures  anabjain  multispecies  vincianedespret  speculativefutures  humans  animals  capacity  iq  interminglings  interconnectedness  interdependence  collaboration  becomingwith  morethanhuman  alextaylor  superflux  interconnected  interconnectivity 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Mitigation of Shock – Design Responses to First World Disasters
"In the last year alone, average temperatures have exceeded recorded averages month upon month, marking seven months of new highs since the end of 2015. February 2016 was recorded at 1.35 degrees Celsius above the long-term average. Migratory patterns and natural behaviours of the planet’s fauna are already changing to adapt to the new normal. Extreme weather might not directly link to climate change, but is a key indicator. James Hanson and his colleagues’ new research demonstrates how the global sea level is likely to increase “several meters over a timescale of 50 to 150 years. As climate change threatens significant change to our planet and society, what will be left of the world we have grown to know, and love?

The history, present, and future of climate change, is also the study of the history, present, and future of inequality and injustice. Will the effects of climate change reinforce or subvert the status quo?

Parallel to these questions is the gravity of predictions and anticipatory warnings from climate researchers, data scientists, and economists, which collides with the lived realities of people living in western democracies. Our lifestyles of access and abundance look set to dramatically change. Row upon row of supermarket shelves, filled with all the food you could want, from all around the world, all year round, so cheap that you can buy two for one and throw one away, will soon be in short supply.

The disconnect between scientific, data driven predictions of global warming, and the lack of immediately visible signs creates a space of cognitive dissonance, its implications unsettling and ominous. But it is also a space which offers the opportunity to confront our fears, to experiment with ways in which the shocks of the impact of climate change can be mitigated. It is in this space that we at Superflux have situated our research and design project: Mitigation of Shock.

We will design responses to first world disasters that are likely to happen in the near future, by prototyping alternatives today. Alternatives that are tools, methods, materials and commons that individuals can learn, use and share in order to gain agency and capacity to mitigate the shock of climate change.

If you are working in climate science, food insecurity, global economics, supply chains, or related fields, we’d love to talk to you."
climatechange  superflux  mitigationofshock  science  foodinsecurity  supplychains  disasters  globalwarming 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Making as an Act of Caring — Medium
"My friend Deb Chachra wrote a great piece ‘Why I am not a Maker’ in the Atlantic last year, about the problems with taking on the identity of a “maker”, especially in tech culture, as it assumes intrinsic superiority to other forms of repair, fixing and especially, care-giving. Around the same time, friend and collaborator Tim Maughan wrote about his journeys through Chinese factories, a deeply moving piece on the conditions and lives of the people who actually make most of the things we use. I believe that such critique that challenges the dominant understanding of the ‘maker culture’ and its implications on labour, geopolitics and consumerism is important and urgent.

On a personal front, Deb and Tim’s essays got me thinking a lot about what ‘making’ means to me, and I realised that my understanding of this term is coloured by Jon, whom I live and work with. It got me thinking about the amount of time and energy Jon spends ‘making’ things. It is the sort of making that requires him to find, forage, build or improvise tools and materials in order to make things work.

From quickly knocking up a set of ‘acrylic chisels’ from waste plastic pieces as a bespoke toolset for gilding, to building an enormous drone with his partner-in-crime Jon Flint, resurrecting his grandfather’s cherished lamp, fixing the neighbour’s bike, reconfiguring his mother’s phone, retrofitting his son’s electronic toys, creating a DIY bioreactor, applying ancient Japanese techniques of Kintsugi as a means of adding the history of repair to his bike, and most recently foraging the city for waste in order to build salvaged prototypes that might help mitigate the shock of climate change. But he is not trained as a carpenter, metalsmith, engineer, or product designer. Nor does he go to makerspaces, he probably feels bit overwhelmed by them. He is an artist and then a designer.

Most importantly, Jon is a maker because, over the years he has developed an uninhibited curiosity for found materials and their potential applications to either fix things or build new things in the future. This deep knowledge of materials embodied within the stuff we use in our daily lives, as well as the numerous tools and techniques of making, is critical to understand the impact the things we use have on our environments. It also generates a pattern of lateral and anticipatory thinking, as he constantly scours the environment looking for materials and tools, anticipating their potential (re)use in an entirely different context. It’s an attitude of mending, helping, and, most importantly, caring, that defies mainstream consumerism.

This sort of an attitude is neither new nor unheard of. There are hundreds of thousands of people who would not call themselves makers but would quite easily fit this bill of a ‘maker’. The recently visible projects by such makers include the brilliant Fixperts and Engineering at Home amongst others. These projects and activities are often packaged as ‘fixing’, ‘jugaad, or ‘up-cycling’, and remain on the periphery of the dominant maker-culture discourse. These approaches are often associated with resource stripped individuals and communities (especially Jugaad in India), or some sort of hippie do-gooders. No, they are not just fixing, not just doing some little bodging in the corner, they are mainstream makers. In fact, I would argue that they are more than makers, they are actually care-givers, who steadfastly push back against the dominant philosophy of planned obsolesce.

Maker-carers who may not use 3D printers to make shoes or dresses, but instead embody making as a way of life. They are quietly shaping the ethos and values of a 21st century maker — adaptive, crafty, anticipatory makers who care deeply about the people and environment around them. And this is the sort of making-as-caring that we need much more of. As we head towards increasingly precarious political, social and environmental crisis, we will all need to nurture the capacity to think through materials and the systems that these materials manifest within, so we can find the means to restore, revive, resurrect, rewire, and reimagine the physical world of consumption we are drowning in. Obviously this would mean we will buy less things, but it also means that we will know what we buy and mostly importantly have the skills to adapt and re-appropriate materials and tools for uncertain conditions.

If we are going to idolise makers and create large-scale foundries, incubators and educational programs to inculcate and embrace the love for making, then lets nourish this idea of making as care-giving too, and ensure that the ‘maker-culture’ we build is diverse and inclusive. And in doing so, encourage a relentless inquisitiveness, integrity, and pliancy that it can bring for us, those around us and the environments we live in."
anabjain  jonardern  making  care  caring  caregiving  repair  maintenance  2016  adaptivity  resourcefulness  sfsh  ingenuity  jugaad  consumerism  debchachra  timmanaugh  technology  climatechange  consumption  labor  geopolitics  reuse  recycling  superflux  jonflint  art  design  makers  openstudioproject  lcproject  repairing  mending  fixing  fixperts  engineeringathome  upcycling  makerculture  caitrinlynch  sarahendren  kintsugi 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Drone Aviary | superflux
"The Drone Aviary - an R&D project from The Superflux Lab - is an investigation of the social, political and cultural potential of drone technology as it enters civil space. Through a series of ongoing installations, films and publications, the project aims to give a glimpse into a near-future city co-habit with ‘intelligent’ semi autonomous, networked, flying machines."



"The installation at the V&A contains a family of 5 drones and an accompanying film. Each drone is designed to be symbolic of the convergence of wider social and tech trends with specific tasks and functions that are gaining popularity amongst drone enthusiasts and entrepreneurs.

1. Madison, The Flying Billboard: This is an advertising drone, a hovering display platform, which can swoop, scan and hunt consumer demographics. It uses sophisticated facial recognition to gain feedback on the effectiveness of its content and to tailor advertisements to the interests of those within its vicinity.

2. Newsbreaker, The Media Drone: Supported by algorithmic monitoring news, emergency services and social media in real-time, these nimble devices push the boundaries for what has become known as High Frequency Journalism, helping feed our growing hunger for the very latest breaking news stories as it happens. As it films and streams news in real-time, story writing algorithms parse imagery, audio, web and radio traffic into rapidly growing, and continually edited, column inches.

3. Nightwatchman, The Surveillance Drone: A highly mobile data acquisition device used by everyone from local councils to law enforcement agencies. By securely connecting to a centralised database The Nightwatchman is able to amass and utilise huge amounts of location and subject specific information assisting in everything from documenting civil offences to detecting potential terror threats.

4. RouteHawk, Traffic Management Assistant: This drone fulfills two primary functions: firstly with its high brightness LED display and powerful 8 motor design the RouteHawk can move quickly to problem situations and provide dynamic warnings to approaching drivers. Secondly its LIDAR speed detector and ANPR camera allow the RouteHawk to efficiently log and transmit traffic violations to relevant penalty enforcement departments, often allowing a unit to pay for itself within a month.

5. FlyCam Instadrone: A highly accessible, low cost, user-friendly platform with true 'smart' style functionality. Quickly superseding the Selfie stick as todays must have life-logging and social media tool, the FlyCam allows anyone with a smartphone to share unforgettable memories from the clouds to the cloud using the Instadrone app. Additionally, its patented context aware algorithm means advertisers can deliver messages to customer when and where it counts.

The Film:
In the film, the drones become protagonists, revealing fleeting glimpses of the city from their perspective, as they continuously collect data and perform tasks. It hints at a world where the ‘network’ begins to gain physical autonomy, moving through and making decisions about the world, influencing our lives in often opaque yet profound ways. A speculative map highlights where physical and digital infrastructures merge as our cities become the natural habitat for 'smart' technologies from drones and wearable computers through to driverless cars."

[Posted to Tumblr with a few notes: http://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/116318868178/drone-aviary-superflux-the-drone-aviary-an-r-d ]
superflux  drones  nearfuture  designfiction  surveillance  2015  film  uav  future  timmaughan  anabjain  jonarden  infrastructure  robotvision  robotreadableworld  airspace  vision  tracking  society  prototyping  facerecognition 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Anab Jain, “Design for Anxious Times” on Vimeo
"As 2014 rushes past us, a venture capital firm appoints a computer algorithm to its board of directors, robots report news events such as earthquakes before any human can, fully functioning 3D printed ears, bones and guns are in use, the world’s biggest search company acquires large scale, fully autonomous military robots, six-year old children create genetically modified glow fish and an online community of 50,000 amateurs build drones. All this whilst extreme weather events and political unrest continue to pervade. This is just a glimpse of the increased state of technological acceleration and cultural turbulence we experience today. How do we make sense of this? What can designers do? Dissecting through her studio Superflux’s projects, research practice and approach, Anab will make a persuasive case for designers to adopt new roles as sense-makers, translators and agent provocateurs of the 21st century. Designers with the conceptual toolkits that can create a visceral connection with the complexity and plurality of the worlds we live in, and open up an informed dialogue that help shape better futures for all."
anabjain  superflux  2014  design  future  futures  via:steelemaley  criticaldesign  speculativedesign  speculativefiction  designfiction  designdiscourse  film  filmmaking  technology  interaction  documentary  uncertainty  reality  complexity  algorithms  data  society  surveillance  cloud  edwardsnowden  chelseamanning  julianassange  whistleblowing  science  bentobox  genecoin  bitcoin  cryptocurrency  internet  online  jugaad  war  warfare  information  politics  drones  software  adamcurtis  isolation  anxiety  capitalism  quantification  williamgibson  art  prototyping  present 
february 2015 by robertogreco
New book on 'Design Ethnography' — pasta and vinegar
"Here's the book blurb:
"What do designers mean when they say they’re going to do “ethnography” and “field research”? What are the relationships between observing people and designing products or services? Is there such a thing as a “designerly” way of knowing people? This book is a report from a research project conducted at HEAD – Genève that addressed the role of people-knowing in interaction/media design. It describes the wide breadth of approaches used by designers to frame their work, get inspiration or speculate about plausible futures. This book presents practitioners’ tactics and illustrates them with several cases. Unlike many resources on user-centered design, it takes a broader approach to design by considering cases in which design is not only a problem-solving activity, but a tool to speculate about the near future, reformulate problems or propose a critical discourse on society. In doing so, this book helps designers, students and consultants to challenge their own perceptions and update their approaches."

The book is a collective effort, with texts from John Thackara, Julian Bleecker, Sara Ljungblad, Gilles Baudet, Anab Jain and Jon Ardern, James Auger, Virginia Cruz and Nicolas Gaudron, Liam Young, Fabian Hemmert, Steve Portigal, Gordan Savičić and Selena Savić, Anne-Catherine Sutermeister and Jean-Pierre Greff. 

It can be purchased online here at we-make.it [http://we-make.it/shop/ and http://wemakeitberlin.tictail.com/product/design-ethnography ]"
design  ethnography  designethnography  nicolasnova  johnthackara  julianbleecker  saraljungblad  gillesbaudet  anabjain  jonardern  superflux  jamesauger  virginiacruz  nicolasgaudron  liamyoung  fabianhemmert  steveportigal  books  gordansavičić  selensavić  anne-catherinesutermeister  jean-pierregreff  futurism  speculativedesign  disign  nearfuture  fieldresearch  research  observation 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Failed States: A Tactical Design Workshop | superflux
"In early May, Jon and I were invited by the HEAD MEDIA DESIGN faculty in Geneva to lead a week long design futurescaping workshop for the first-year students on their postgraduate Media Design programme. Having not previously encountered speculative design, futurescaping, or design fiction, we were tasked with finding a way to drag this bundle of themes and techniques into the participants’ familiar everyday lives. We could easily have spent a week exploring different processes and methods, but, instead, we chose to develop a challenging context-specific brief, through which the HEAD students could start to grapple with some of the questions we ourselves have been exploring through our lab and studio activities.

Drawing on our recent work, talks, and ongoing personal encounters with immigration and the contemporary nation-state, we were drawn to a central theme of political complexity – challenging students to probe notions of borders, territories, and the fragile, increasingly precarious relationship between people and their governments. Developing the brief in collaboration with Justin Pickard, our spooky, mostly virtual studio associate, we wanted to leave workshop participants fully primed and poised, ready to develop their own original work on these and similar issues."



"We kicked off the workshop with a presentation expanding on the initial brief, describing how the workshop would use the notion of ‘failed states’ to ‘explore how political visions of the future fail to account for the complexity of the world, and in doing so, struggle to consider unforeseen events and uncertainty.’ We showed real-world examples of the ways in which unanticipated events – the collapse of the USSR, the Great Depression, etc. – have triggered paradigm shifts in national and international politics, the consequences of which we continue to experience in our everyday lives today, in 2014.

With this as background and context, we confronted the workshop participants with a future Switzerland of the mid-2020s; a small, federal state in a world where an increasingly powerful Chinese state holds controlling shares in a number of critical Swiss infrastructure projects, a network of surveillance UAVs have been deployed to monitor and pre-empt civil unrest, widespread food shortages have been met by the nationalisation of many Swiss food companies, and the persistent overuse of antibiotics has led the world into an era in which even minor infections can prove terminal.

Sharing our timeline of events from 2013-2025 based on current trends and weak signals, we tasked participants with digesting the interplay of a range of future developments, considering their implications for the everyday experience of future Swiss citizens and inhabitants, and designing a response to the challenges and consequences of this future world. We asked them to engage, critique and infiltrate the dominant political and economic order through a proposed service, product, experience, movement, campaign, or anything else that felt appropriate.

After the initial splash presentation, participants ran through a series of discussions and initial brainstorms, touching on the recent immigration referendum, the incipient anxieties of French students, and the visual language of Swiss political propaganda. The students were asked to consider the elements of this future world that resonated with their own passions and personal politics; what their own lives – and those of their friends and family – might look like in this proximate future; and alternative roles for their own design practice in an unexpected or divergent environment. Over the first few days, participants made extensive use of mapping and fiction and they sought to orient themselves in relation to a series of much larger, interlocking social and technical systems.

After a round of early brainstorms we suggested the students write short stories, that situate them or their loved ones, within this world. This became a great mechanism to create deeper connections with the things that they otherwise did not consider.



Participants’ work explored the various ways in which they might be able to either infiltrate the system, or design for it from within it. As workshop convenors, we found it emotionally and personally challenging to see how far they were willing to push themselves beyond their comfort zones, in order to explore new thematic and design territories.



The set of final presentations was inspiring and rewarding, and the students who took the opportunity to engage with this complex and chaotic bundle of issues did remarkably well in such a short period of time. "We learnt how to ask questions" was possibly one of the best feedback we could have asked for. Many thanks to Daniel Schiboz, Nicolas Nova and Marion Schmidt for the hospitality, we hope to be back at HEAD soon. "
superflux  anabjain  failedstates  speculativefiction  speculativedesign  designfiction  speculativecriticaldesign  criticaldesign  justinpickard  immigration  migration  future  government  switzerland  design  complexity  uncertainty  prediction  2014  surveillance  networks  danielschiboz  nicolasnova  marionschmidt 
june 2014 by robertogreco
In the Loop: Designing Conversations With Algorithms | superflux
"As algorithmic systems become more prevalent, I’ve begun to notice of a variety of emergent behaviors evolving to work around these constraints, to deal with the insufficiency of these black box systems. These behaviors point to a growing dissatisfaction with the predominant design principles, and imply a new posture towards our relationships with machines.

Adaptation

The first behavior is adaptation. These are situations where I bend to the system’s will. For example, adaptations to the shortcomings of voice UI systems — mispronouncing a friend’s name to get my phone to call them; overenunciating; or speaking in a different accent because of the cultural assumptions built into voice recognition. We see people contort their behavior to perform for the system so that it responds optimally. This is compliance, an acknowledgement that we understand how a system listens, even when it’s not doing what we expect. We know that it isn’t flexible or responsive enough, so we shape ourselves to it. If this is the way we move forward, do half of us end up with Google accents and the other half with Apple accents? How much of our culture ends up being an adaptation to systems we can’t communicate well with?

Negotiation

The second type of behavior we’re seeing is negotiation — strategies for engaging with a system to operate within it in more nuanced ways. One example of this is Ghostery, a browser extension that allows one to see what data is being tracked from one’s web browsing and limit it or shape it according to one’s desires. This represents a middle ground: a system that is intended to be opaque is being probed in order to see what it does and try and work with it better. In these negotiations, users force a system to be more visible and flexible so that they can better converse with it.

We also see this kind of probing of algorithms becoming a new and critical role in journalism, as newsrooms take it upon themselves to independently investigate systems through impulse response modeling and reverse engineering, whether it's looking at the words that search engines censor from their autocomplete suggestions, how online retailers dynamically target different prices to different users, or how political campaigns generate fundraising emails.

Antagonism

Third, rather than bending to the system or trying to better converse with it, some take an antagonistic stance: they break the system to assert their will. Adam Harvey’s CV Dazzle is one example of this approach, where people hack their hair and makeup in order to foil computer vision and opt out of participating in facial recognition systems. What’s interesting here is that, while the attitude here is antagonistic, it is also an extreme acknowledgement of a system’s power — understanding that one must alter one’s identity and appearance in order to simply exert free will in an interaction."



"Julian Oliver states this problem well, saying: “Our inability to describe and understand [technological infrastructure] reduces our critical reach, leaving us both disempowered and, quite often, vulnerable. Infrastructure must not be a ghost. Nor should we have only mythic imagination at our disposal in attempts to describe it. 'The Cloud' is a good example of a dangerous simplification at work, akin to a children's book.”

So, what I advocate is designing interactions that acknowledge the peer-like status these systems now have in our lives. Interactions where we don't shield ourselves from complexity but actively engage with it. And in order to engage with it, the conduits for those negotiations need to be accessible not only to experts and hackers but to the average user as well. We need to give our users more respect and provide them with more information so that they can start to have empowered dialogues with the pervasive systems around them.

This is obviously not a simple proposition, so we start with: what are the counterpart values? What’s the alternative to the black box, what’s the alternative to “it just works”? What design principles should we building into new interactions?

Transparency

The first is transparency. In order to be able to engage in a fruitful interaction with a system, I need to be able to understand something about its decision-making process. And I want to be clear that transparency doesn’t mean complete visibility, it doesn’t mean showing me every data packet sent or every decision tree.



Agency

The second principle here is agency, meaning that a system’s design should empower users to not only accomplish tasks, but should also convey a sense that they are in control of their participation with a system at any moment. And I want to be clear that agency is different from absolute and granular control.



Virtuosity

The last principle, virtuosity, is something that usually comes as a result of systems that support agency and transparency well. And when I say virtuosity, what I mean is the ability to use a technology expressively.

A technology allows for virtuosity when it contains affordances for all kinds of skilled techniques that can become deeply embedded into processes and cultures. It’s not just about being able to adapt something to one’s needs, but to “play” a system with skill and expressiveness."
superflux  anabjain  agency  algorithms  complexity  design  networks  wearables  christinaagapakis  paulgrahamraven  scottsmith  alexislloyd  2014  communication  adaptation  negotiation  antagonism  ghostery  julianoliver  transparency  virtuosity  visibility  systemsthinking  systems  expressiveness 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Design Futurescaping | superflux
"We presented our work on 'Design Futurescaping' at the Yeditepe International Conference on Futures & Foresight and Rotterdam's V2_Institute for Unstable Media.

'Complexity, Narrative, Participation, and Images of the Future'
What opportunities do traditional arts, digital media, and social networks create for foresight and futures? What new approaches do these media and digital platforms provide for engaging people in creating and exploring alternative images of the future? How can group-sourced futures creation and exploration put chaos and complexity theories in service to basic futures theory? How can they enhance experiential engagement in the futures dialogue?

These questions set the premise for the Poster Session at the Yeditepe International Conference on Foresight and Futures, Istanbul, Turkey. Curated by Dr. Wendy Schultz, the poster session included contributions from Wendy Schultz, Noah Raford, Justin Pickard and Jake Dunagan. 

We presented a poster outlining some of our work on 'Design Futurescaping', describing some our tools and methods, grounded in examples from 'Little Brinkland' and 'Power of 8'."

"Expanding on this poster, our short essay 'Design Futurescaping' appeared in the free e-reader Blowup: The Era of Objects, published by Rotterdam's V2_ Institute for Unstable Media."

[PDF: http://v2.nl/files/2011/events/blowup-readers/the-era-of-objects-pdf ]
superflux  toolkit  futurescaping  design  designfuturescaping  process  digitalmedia  art  socialnetworks  powerof8  littlebrinkland  future  speculativedesign  speculativefiction  designfiction 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Design in Times of Crisis
"What is it?

Design in Times of Crisis is a work-in-progress reflection for a scenario of the everyday present and near future. It is also a series of short-term block seminars (TBA).

It is part of the PhD investigation of two Brazilian design researchers located in Berlin, Germany: Pedro Oliveira - www.partidoalto.net - and Luiza Prado - www.doisedois.net.

It is through an observation of the current state of affairs mostly outside the so-called “developed world” that we aim to construct our scenario. Of course many of our concerns also do apply to other places in the world, but our focus is more looking home.

This is, of course, nothing new. Its idea stemmed from the very nice "Design for the New Normal" developed by Superflux (if you ended up here, you should definitely check out their work). We think that their outline is indeed fruitful and very necessary, but coming from a different political and social background there are some elements we’d like to disagree, and others we’d like to suggest.

Differently from them, however, we decided to call it the "Times of Crisis" because it does concern the immediate present and the probable future. We think that, as design researchers, it is of paramount importance that we investigate this projection and prepare ourselves for it.

In a nutshell, the links posted here will fall in a few categories, which are the characteristics we are framing as constituents of this scenario. They are:

All Technology is Proprietary

Brands and the State will control your technology. What they do is only to lure you into using their services in order to collect data about everything, everywhere. Crowdsourcing at its best. The obsession with the “quantified self” only leads to the loss of privacy and the more proprietary the technology is, the less control you have over your data. In these times of crisis, people comply with giving their data over to brands and the state under an alleged “full disclosure” of their use. In poorer and emergent countries, particularly, the use of proprietary technology, that is, branded tech, is still a form of social and economical affirmation and status, particularly in lower classes. Open-source tech can and will come to the empowerment of small groups and initiatives, but consumerist ideals and patterns are likely to boost, particularly when formerly poorer classes/countries start to gain more economical power.

You Are what You Consume

Brands and consumption are the biggest form of social insertion. Brands explore that ad infinitum and you belong to those groups where your favorite brand fits in. With the rise of a “new middle class” in developing countries, the patterns of consumption are likely to change and grow; the brand is the greatest form of social status. Musical movements in favelas and ghettos praise brands as something to be desired and proudly worn or used, while at the same time brands try to detach themselves from these movements to protect their capital.

Surveillance is Desired

Reality shows become the norm, they are a preparation for an acceptance of a Police State (cf. Laurel Halo in The Wire). Surveillance gives the false illusion of safety, of “watching out against the other”, but also of being watched against yourself. Drones and Bugs are everywhere for the sake of peace maintenance and the quantified self. Proprietary Tech collects your data with games and research projects. Your data is everyone’s data.

Cities are Corporations are Cities

The association (both legal and illegal) of Business and State leads to a City whose form of social and urban control relies on the interests of brands. Big industries support “eco-initiatives” in order to promote a false state of sustainability while securing their own profit through exploring real estate, mobility and other issues that should be of concern from the State. (cf. Carlos Vainer) - also, prices go crazy because regulation is left to a “minimal State” (Estado Mínimo). Giant sporting events and conferences sell an image of a city devoid of its poorer and “unwanted” social components in favor of its market value as commodity.

——

Here in this blog we aim to collect evidence, reflections and projections for this scenario.

A good starting point for the scope of this discussion you can find here. In this text, we pointed out some things we think that are problematic when approaching Speculative and Critical Design from a narrow perspective of the world.
Naturally, this is an open, stream-of-consciousness idea. Comments, critique and additions to it are more than welcome.

Shout it loud at pedroliveira [at] udk-berlin or luiza.prado [at] udk-berlin.de "
luizaprado  pedrooliveira  design  everyday  present  future  nearfuture  superflux  tomesofcrisis  crisis  technology  crowdsourcing  data  control  consumption  brands  branding  surveillance  policestate  laurelhalo  safety  privacy  security  cities  corporations  corporatism  urban  urbanism  socialcontrol  systainability  carlosvainer  estadomínimo  minimalstate  commodities  business  law  legal  specialinterests 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Workalong: Critical Design / Design Fiction lecture finally written up. (loooooong)
[A very thorough catalog of "design fiction" examples]

"So futures. Design fiction, critical design, speculative design and all that stuff tends to be based in the future, or a futures, or futures. Why? Because it's a fertile playground and fair game. We're open to the suggestion of future images. It's how advertising works. It's evocative, it compounds hopes and fears and it's malleable. Most work isn't about the future, it's about now, but you can explode the now into the future to make it much more visible and understandable.

The archetypal quote. [WILLIAM GIBSON] This is one of the cornerstones of futures work. Somewhere, someone else has your future, and right now, your iPhone is someone else's future.We have to understand there's no kind of absolute rule for 'the' future. There is no 'the' future. There's just a bubbling and propagating mess of technologies and hopes and fears that sometimes arrange themselves into 'a' future.

So this is kind of where you aim at when thinking about the future. This is the futures cone, another one of those tools or symbols that comes up and over and over again. Uncertainty tells us that the future opens up to possibilities. The Google Glass future vision sits in that green preferable part but is unlikely to happen. Where it becomes interesting is exploring some of those wild cards that sit right on the outside. You lend that perspective to people and you can blow their minds. 'Hey there's this new technology and they say it'll do this, but what if it did this instead.'"



"Right, so this is the end and I want to leave you with some questions that I don't have answers to, having seen all of that stuff.

First up, 'Yes, but is it art?' Most of the projects I showed end up in a gallery. They're not sold in shops or made into real products, so how is this not art? There are cleverer people than I that could answer that question. I believe on some fundamental level that it's design because it uses the language of design to try and attract an audience. Because like I said earlier, it rearranges existing phenomena we can understand to give them new meaning and because it's for other people, not for the creator.

Secondly 'What if? ... Then what?' Critical design poses difficult questions and forces us to confront them, but then what? Once we have the questions and we have the provocation how do we deal with it, individually and societally? I don't know, I'm trying to figure that out.

'How do you measure success?' A question that is coming up more and more. You can measure the success of a normal design project by it's kickstarter funding or by units sold, but here we're not selling units or launching startups, we're trying to get people to deal with difficult things so how do you measure if that works? Well, there's a good spread of projects that get a lot of media attention so I guess that's a success, but is it enough?"
tobiasrevell  designfiction  speculativefiction  criticaldesign  design  futurism  2013  fionaraby  hertziantales  robots  superstudio  williamgibson  bigdog  saschapohflepp  goldeninstitute  power  normalcy  venkateshrao  anabjain  superflux  nickfoster  brucesterling  stanleykubrick  childrenofmen  diegetics  diegeticdesign  davidkirby  revitalcohen  prophecyprogram  stanleymilgram  phillippronnenburg  jamesbridle  berg  berglondon  littleprinter  newaesthetic  liamyoung  vincentfournier  josephpopper  larissasansour  peckhamouterspaceinitiative  cristinademiddel  hefinjones  welshspaceprogram  materials  3dprinting  markuskayser  thomasthwaites  toasterproject  jeremyhutchinson  cohenvanbalen  stelarc  choykafai  sputniko  agathahaines  unnaturalhistory  aihasegawa  synthetics  georgetremmel  shihofukuhara  art  canon  davidbenque  geopolitics  yosukeushigome  zoepapadopoulou  stacktivism  julianoliver  dunne&raby  anthonydunne  posthumanism 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Anab Jain: Designing the future
"Anab Jain talks about design in a future world of insect cyborgs, mass surveillance, DNA monetization and guerilla infrastructure. "This sort of speculative work explores the remarkable potential of technology and its new experiential aesthetics.""

[See also: http://www.superflux.in/work/staying-with-the-trouble ]

[Alt video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-stunrZcB24 ]
anabjain  superflux  design  future  cyborgs  surveillance  infrastructure  speculativedesign  designfiction  biotech  biotechnology  genetics  science  nearfuture  robots  bostondynamics  23andme  2013  drones  jugaad  thenewnormal  bees  humanism  bodies  humans  vision  blind  prosthetics  memory  consciousness  supervision  film  storytelling  speculativefiction  shanzai  china  innovation  resilience  ingenuity  poptech  body 
november 2013 by robertogreco
ANAB JAIN - LECTURE
"Anab Jain is a designer, filmmaker, founder and director of the London-and-India-based design studio Superflux, which runs in partnership with Jon Ardern. The studio consistently produces inventive and critical work exploring the limits of emerging technologies and their implications on society and culture. In her lecture at Fabrica, she explores the vision of their studio as a new kind of design practice — one that is responsive to the unique challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. Recent work includes the design of prosthetic vision for the visually impaired, alternate autonomous weather systems, ecological domestic robots, large-scale devices visualizing quantum computing, pirate networks for autonomous UAVs, speculative narratives investigating illegal markets for synthetic biology and community-enabling services for urban India."
anabjain  superflux  design  research  openstudioproject  2013  fabrica  consulting  thenewnormal  lcproject  projectorientedorganizations  howwework  speculativedesign  technology  complexity  narrative  storytelling  jonardern  future  designfiction  criticaldesign  internetofthings  data  mutability  mutation  uncertainty  implications  iot 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Tobias Revell on the future of art and design at 'A New Dawn' by ArtEZ studium generale, 24 May 2013 on Vimeo
"Tobias Revell outlines how the willing acceptance and grasping of uncertainty has led to a new way of thinking in the present and a resurgence of romantic futurism. He gives specific examples of solutions outside of a 'grand plan', new production methods that liberalise and free design and art from larger systems. He shows how science-fiction imagery and fantasy have penetrated the arts.
Opening lecture at 'A New Dawn' by ArtEZ studium generale on 24 May 2013, Enschede, the Netherlands."
tobiasrevell  2013  art  design  designfiction  futurism  systems  towatch  artez  uncertainty  video  debate  reflection  critique  change  futures  kickstarter  bitcoins  makerbot  3dprinting  reprap  globalvillageonstructionset  opensource  opensourceecology  cohenvanbalen  thomasthwaites  manufacturing  control  consumption  economics  systemsthinking  bigdog  robots  technology  normalization  marsone  uncannyvalley  spacetravel  space  film  nasa  hierarchy  music  vincentfournier  prosthetics  evil  googleglass  internetofthings  superflux  dance  computing  data  anabjain  iot 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Designing for a Subcontinent: Ten Notable Indian Designers
"Contemporary Indian design is emerging as an industry with great potential. As a country with a rich cultural and artistic history, it is unsurprising that the subcontinent has turned its creative hand to this expanding and lucrative industry."
2013  india  design  versionabsolute  vinaypateel  planet3  anabjain  superflux  sandeepsangaru  geetikaalok  sandippaul  mannsingh  vaishalidesign  morphogenesis 
june 2013 by robertogreco
IoTA: Internet-of-Things Academy, Phase 2 | superflux
"This project explores the potential of building IoTA: An open, educational internet-of-things platform to encourage creativity, collaboration and technological literacy."
superflux  internetofthings  iota  technologywillsaveus  opendata  platforms  data  technology  anabjain  iot 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Bruce Sterling on Fantasy prototypes and real disruption | NEXT Berlin
[video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7KErICTSHU ]

"In the closing keynote of NEXT Berlin 2013, acclaimed science-fiction author and journalist Bruce Sterling tackled a variety of topics like design fiction, start-up culture, and the mass adoption of disruptive technology. He sees science fiction as a form of design – design fiction that is part of the start-up world."
brucesterling  anabjain  superflux  nearfuturelaboratory  designfiction  disruption  design  networkedsociety  2013  nextberlin  nextberlin2013  protoyping  future  sciencefiction  scifi  capitalism  startups  money  culture  startup 
april 2013 by robertogreco
Design for the New Normal (Revisited) | superflux
"I was invited to talk at the NEXT Conference in Berlin by Peter Bihr, as he felt that a talk I gave last year would fit well with the conference's theme Here Be Dragons: "We fret about data, who is collecting it and why. We fret about privacy and security. We worry and fear disruption, which changes business models and renders old business to ashes. Some would have us walk away, steer clear of these risks. They’re dangerous, we don’t know what the consequences will be. Maintain the status quo, don’t change too much.Here and now is safe. Over there, in the future? Well, there be dragons."

This sounded like a good platform to expand upon the 'Design for the New Normal' presentation I gave earlier, especially as its an area Jon and I are thinking about in the context of various ongoing projects. So here it is, once again an accelerated slideshow (70 slides!) where I followed up on some of the stories to see what happened to them in the last six months, and developed some of the ideas further. This continues to be a work-in-progress that Superflux is developing as part of our current projects. "

[Video: http://nextberlin.eu/2013/07/design-for-the-new-normal-3/ ]
anabjain  2013  drones  weapons  manufacturing  3dprinting  bioengineering  droneproject  biotechnology  biotech  biobricks  songhojun  ossi  zemaraielali  empowerment  technology  technologicalempowerment  raspberrypi  hackerspaces  makerspaces  diy  biology  diybio  shapeways  replicators  tobiasrevell  globalvillageconstructionset  marcinjakubowski  crowdsourcing  cryptocurrencies  openideo  ideo  wickedproblems  darpa  innovation  india  afghanistan  jugaad  jugaadwarfare  warfare  war  syria  bitcoins  blackmarket  freicoin  litecoin  dna  dnadreams  bregtjevanderhaak  bgi  genomics  23andme  annewojcicki  genetics  scottsmith  superdensity  googleglass  chaos  complexity  uncertainty  thenewnormal  superflux  opensource  patents  subversion  design  jonardern  ux  marketing  venkateshrao  normalityfield  strangenow  syntheticbiology  healthcare  healthinsurance  insurance  law  economics  ip  arnoldmann  dynamicgenetics  insects  liamyoung  eleanorsaitta  shingtatchung  algorithms  superstition  bahavior  numerology  dunne&raby  augerloizeau  bionicrequiem  ericschmidt  privacy  adamharvey  makeu 
april 2013 by robertogreco
Design for the New Normal | superflux
"How do you operate as a design company when your competitor is an open source community of hackers - selling 3d printed objects from virtual environments like Minecraft for a profit?…

How can designers explore the potential of these new challenges?

I dont have all the answers, but I can show a quick glimpse of some strategies that we’ve been exploring to work with these challenges at our design studio Superflux.

For starters, can the design studio be less of hierarchial monolith and more of a decentralized organism that has eyes and ears everywhere that people touch the company? Whether they are employees, partners, customers or suppliers? Through these wider networks of interdisciplinary collaborators we are attempting to cultivate the 'scenius', a term create by Brian Eno to refer not to the genius of a lone individual but that of collective intelligence.

Cultivating such a network has led us to work on a range of projects…"
interdisciplinarity  interdisciplinary  flatness  decentralization  hierarchy  hierarchies  songhojun  ossi  hackers  hacking  future  drones  reprap  collectiveintelligence  biohacking  3dprinting  opensource  collaboration  scenius  design  brianeno  2012  anajain  superflux  horizontality  horizontalidad  anabjain  thenewnormal 
october 2012 by robertogreco
Back to the Futurist: Anab Jain | URBNFUTR
"In our studio, we try to balance thinking about the future with making in the here-and-now, exploring the possibilities of new technologies while tinkering with laser cutters, 3D printers, and similar – getting stuck into the process of making prototypes for a wide range of projects."

"We are no longer going to be able to separate ourselves from these technologies, tools and phenomena, remaining detached – aloof – from the manufacturing and distribution processes. Where will we, as designers, makers, and futurists be best placed to situate ourselves?"

"While it may be more common for men to refer to themselves as ‘futurists’, there are many influential women whose work focuses explicitly on the future – Wendy Schultz, Heather Schlegel, and Danah Boyd, among many others. Then there are those who are exploring the edges of the future field, without necessarily calling themselves ‘futurists’, women like Fiona Raby, Natalie Jeremijenko, Paola Antonelli, and Vandana Shiva."
beamerbees  acresgreen  mutation  mutations  messyspace  drones  robotreadableworld  machinevision  biology  smart-objects  smartdevices  machineintelligence  risk  emergingtechnologies  criticaldesign  deviantglobalization  narrative  storytelling  3dprinting  futurescaping  suturism  futurists  heatherschlegel  wendyschultz  danahboyd  vandanashiva  paolaantonelli  nataliejeremijenko  fionaraby  superflux  scifi  sciencefiction  howwework  process  interviews  2012  prototyping  designfiction  futurism  design  anabjain  dunne&raby  anthonydunne  from delicious
april 2012 by robertogreco

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