Communications

 

What if we use science fiction to help us imagine the future? What if we use the language of slick graphic and product

design to create narratives of possible futures? This is the essence of “critical design,” “design fiction,” and

“speculative design.” In the Critical Design article you read last week, Paola Antonelli writes, “Critical Design focuses

on studying the impact and possible consequences of new technologies and policies, and of worldwide social and

environmental trends, as well as on outlining new goals and areas of interest for designers.”
Critical design is part of a broader set of scenario-based approaches to the future. Scenarios are powerful because they

use stories and images to help us to envision the good and bad about the future, based on our choices today. In this

assignment, you’ll write a critical design influences scenario of future communication technology as a way of thinking

about the future and making your own interventions into what that future might look like.
Write a brief scene of design fiction, and in so doing, you will think through some of our reading, writing and

discussion about objects, gadgets, and infrastructures.
It is 2025 — 10 years from now — and you are telling your best friend (or mom, wife, husband, partner, girlfriend,

boyfriend) about a new communication object. What that object is is up to you, and what it does is up to you. In writing

about it, you may find it more interesting to imagine that its new version just came out, or that it just broke, or that

there’s a big scandal about it. You could also/instead write a future-tense newspaper article or press release from 2025

about the communication device. This is what Jason Tester, a futurist, calls “artifacts from the future” and “archeology

of the future.”
10 years isn’t too long, when you think about it. Think back to your technological landscape. If you are currently around

21, you were probably about to start using Myspace. You probably didn’t have a cell phone. Remember that 10 years ago,

design schools were imagining gadgets like the iPhone but they didn’t exist yet. On the other hand, in the 7 years that

we’ve carried smartphones, so many things have changed: the way we walk through cities, navigate, remember things, settle

arguments…
If you need some examples or inspiration, check out Julian Bleeker’s article “Design Fiction: A Short Essay on Design,

Science, Fact, and Fiction” or Kate Golden’s article, “Scientists unveil scenarios for 2070 life in Madison, WI“
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