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The Futures of Everyday Life: Politics and the Design of Experiential Scenarios

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Abstract

The great existential challenges facing the human species can be traced, in part, to the fact that we have underdeveloped discursive practices for thinking possible worlds ‘out loud’, performatively and materially, in the register of experience. That needs to change. In this dissertation, a methodology for ‘experiential scenarios’, covering a range of interventions and media from immersive performance to stand-alone ‘artifacts from the future’, is offered as a partial corrective. The beginnings of aesthetic, political and ethical frameworks for ‘experiential futures’ are proposed, drawing on alternative futures methodology, the emerging anti- mediumist practice of ‘experience design’, and the theoretical perspective of a Rancièrian ‘politics of aesthetics’. The relationships between these three domains -- futures, design, and politics -- are explored to show how and why they are coming together, and what each has to offer the others. The upshot is that our apparent binary choice between unthinkable dystopia and unimaginable utopia is a false dilemma, because in fact, we can and should imagine ‘possibility space’ hyperdimensionally, and seek to flesh out worlds hitherto supposed unimaginable or unthinkable on a daily basis. Developed from early deployments across a range of settings in everyday life, from urban guerrilla-style activism to corporate consulting, experiential scenarios do not offer definitive answers as to how the future will look, or even how it should look, but they can contribute to a mental ecology within which these questions may be posed and discussed more effectively than ever before.
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... In the tradition of hybrid design/futures methods that have been taken up by designers to explore prospective outcomes more multidimensionally, including Design Fiction [7,38], Speculative Design [18] and Experiential Futures [11,39], we attempt to look into selected social and cultural aspects of some futures currently being incubated among certain professional communities-particularly Human-Agent Interaction (HAI) and Human-Robot Interaction (HRI) researchers-with the hope of encouraging and enabling deeper reflection around current (as well as possible alternative) visions, assumptions, and concerns. We interviewed three experts in the field and created a trio of "letter probes," each designed to concretize and bring to life a different "what if?" for how social agents might develop and be used in years to come. ...
... Ethnographic Experiential Futures (EXF) is a direct descendant of two existing traditions of research and scholarship: Experiential Futures (XF), a wide-ranging, transmedia design space that incorporates not only future artifacts (objects), but also immersive scenarios (situations) that physically place participants in experiences that aim to portray possible future worlds [11], and Ethnographic Futures Research (EFR), a method that maps out desired, feared and expected views of the future held by individuals or by a community [39]. EXF directly combines the two. ...
... It invites researchers to consider both how they might surface images of the future within a field (as in EFR) and how these possibilities might be manifested as tangible experiences for others to engage in (as in XF) [14]. EXF thus not only elicits statements about particular futures, but seeks in a way to translate them into embodied and rich experiences, in hopes of promoting reflection and change [11,13]. For example, Kornet interviewed environmental activists about the impacts of nearby petrochemical industry facilities on health in their communities [23], and Jenkins and colleagues explored possible futures of supermarkets and the core values that accompany them [22]. ...
Conference Paper
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We present a case-study of using Ethnographic Experiential Futures (EXF) to surface underlying divergences, tensions and dilemmas implicit in views of the futures of "social agents" among professional researchers familiar with the state of the art. Based on expert interviews, we designed three "letters from the future," research probes that were mailed to 15 participants working in the field, to encounter and respond to. We lay out the elements and design choices that shaped these probes, present our remote and asynchronous study design, and discuss lessons learned about the use of EXF. We find that this form of hybrid design/futures intervention has the potential to provide professional communities with opportunities to grapple with potential ethical dilemmas early on. However, the knowledge and tools for doing so are still in the making. Our contribution is a step towards advancing the potential benefits of experiential futures for technology designers and researchers.
... This double-loop learning process supported the development of a bank of ideas and methods, which were important sources of data for our analysis. (Candy, 2010;Hill & Candy, 2019). We adapted the model to depict three key timeframes in the future based on the three-horizons timeframe (Baghai, Coley, & White, 2000) that matched the strategy of Alpha. ...
... To address this limitation, our model integrates a hybrid application of scenario planning (Ramirez et al., 2017;Selin et al., 2015) and future studies (Candy, 2010;Delgado & Candy, 2019) at the pre-discovery stage to initially co-envision future contexts and territories where to identify problems worth addressing. Subsequently, it uses speculative design (Auger, 2013;Broms, Wangel, & Andersson, 2017;Dunne & Raby, 2013) to turn those contexts into visions worth pursuing, and only later into the process, worth validating through the standard lean start-up heuristic. ...
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Using an action-research case study of a prominent telecom incumbent that established a moonshot factory, whose one of three missions was to explore distant and uncertain transformational bets to re-think digitally-enabled massive mental healthcare provision, we uncover and ad-dress the epistemological limitations of the lean startup heuristic in addressing such ‘wicked problems’ and related bets, involving heterogeneous, multiple stakeholders, operating at different time scales. We derived a novel epistemologically grounded and design-led framework for entrepreneurial renewal through corporate moonshot design and acceleration, i.e., wicked acceleration that might be applicable in different industrial contexts. In so doing, we extend the design science-based lean startup heuristic and contribute to the streams on design and entrepreneurship, experimentation vs. transformation, and corporate innovation acceleration to address wicked challenges.
... Still, there are a sufficient number of documented cases where participation has yet to make significant inroads into government decision-making processes (Dong et al., 2013). Candy (2010) in Hines and Zindato (2016) identified a need for the "democratization" and "experientialisation" of futures and asserted the need for a methodology for "experiential scenarios" along with participatory ethos. Haldenby in Hines and Zindato (2016) explored the question of how to "engage mass audiences in decision-making processes and experiences simulating different possible futures." ...
Article
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This Case Study paper presents the first exploration of Speculative Design as a participatory democracy method for navigating the future of ageing in Malaysia. Speculative Design in the context of Global South is emerging, but without much data on how it is applied within different socio-economic conditions from the Global North countries. This Case Study considers the challenges and opportunities of employing Speculative Design as policy identification and development method from the context of Malaysia, a Global South country with its own unique characteristics. The paper concludes by suggesting that the novelty of Speculative Design as a policy-design approach in Global South countries, such as in Malaysia, requires the right selection of provocations and culturally familiar content to ease introduction of the methodology. Also, the efficacy of this approach as a participatory design application would require further enculturation within targeted communities, as well as sustained engagement through Champions.
... Sometimes these findings are early indicators of black swan events (Taleb, 2009). Other times, they may appear outwardly ridiculous at first (Dator, as cited in Candy, 2010), yet have a much deeper, perhaps sinister, truth to them that is no laughing matter. In any case, pure analytical horsepower, regardless of its precision, cannot produce conclusions that mean much to address the complexities of future change. ...
Thesis
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Threatcasting is a foresight methodology that examines the worst of potential future changes by imagining and crafting a fictional (but very plausible) story of a person, in a detailed setting, experiencing a threat. In this dissertation, I investigate the processes and techniques of threatcasting, focused primarily on the post-analysis phase, and demonstrate it as an open methodology that can embrace varied ways to analyze raw data and seek conclusions. I incorporate best practices of narrative and thematic analysis, qualitative analysis, grounded theory, and hypothesis-driven theories of inquiry. I use interviews from futurists trained on threatcasting ways of thinking and compare two case studies-one using a grounded theory approach on the future of weapons of mass destruction and cyberspace and the other using a hypothesis-driven approach on the future of extremism-to investigate the efficacy of different theoretical approaches to analysis. I introduce definitions of novelty and ways to assess how a novel finding may have more impact on the future than it appears at first glance. Often, this impact comes more from what is not present in threat scenarios than what is included. Finally, I illustrate how threatcasting, as a practice, is a valuable contribution to those in a position to be responsible architects of a better future.
... The author's previous research was focused on the analysis of the common ground between systemic uncertainty, future, and knowledge [20,21], referring to, among others, the idea of cones of "future, uncertainty, plausibility, possibilities and everything" [22][23][24][25][26][27]. The idea of future cone has been promoted most strongly by J. Voros [15,[28][29][30][31][32], whose prototype can be found in the works of Amara [33], and Hancock and Bezold [34]. ...
Article
A wide methodological spectrum regarding future research is offered by anticipation studies, with a special role of foresight studies. Many studies of this type focus on generating the desired future, taking into account the fact that it is accompanied by uncertainty. The author of this publication postulates treating uncertainty as an equivalent-in relation to the future-research object. This approach allows us to formulate general assumptions for a model of the anticipatory management of systemic uncertainty in IoT networks. The goal of such a model will not be to eliminate or even minimize uncertainty, but to regulate it to a desired level. Such an action can bring many more benefits than trying to zero out uncertainty. On the general side, uncertainty can be studied in two ways: (1) as an abstract idea, or (2) as a feature of a particular structure, also with elements of research on its abstract component. In this paper the attention is focused on the second approach. The main research area is the IoT network in its broadest sense, with a particular role of the social construct, in the context of the study of systemic uncertainty in relation to selected anticipatory actions. The overarching goal is to define a desired state, or to determine what such a desired state is, of anticipatory IoT uncertainty.
... A strength that design brings to futuring practices is to bring broad concepts about the future into tangible specificity (Kossoff 2011). To design in the everyday context means creating tangible visions that offer a glimpse of what life could look like in the future (Candy 2010). ...
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Editorial The RSD10 symposium was held at the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Delft University of Technology, 2nd-6th November 2021. After a successful (yet unforeseen) online version of the RSD 9 symposium, RSD10 was designed as a hybrid conference. How can we facilitate the physical encounters that inspire our work, yet ensure a global easy access for joining the conference, while dealing well with the ongoing uncertainties of the global COVID pandemic at the same time? In hindsight, the theme of RSD10 could not have been a better fit with the conditions in which it had to be organized: “Playing with Tensions: Embracing new complexity, collaboration and contexts in systemic design”. Playing with Tensions Complex systems do not lend themselves for simplification. Systemic designers have no choice but to embrace complexity, and in doing so, embrace opposing concepts and the resulting paradoxes. It is at the interplay of these ideas that they find the most fruitful regions of exploration. The main conference theme explored design and systems thinking practices as mediators to deal fruitfully with tensions. Our human tendency is to relieve the tensions, and in design, to resolve the so-called “pain points.” But tensions reveal paradoxes, the sites of connection, breaks in scale, emergence of complexity. Can we embrace the tension and paradoxes as valuable social feedback in our path to just and sustainable futures? The symposium took off with two days of well-attended workshops on campus and online. One could sense tensions through embodied experiences in one of the workshops, while reframing systemic paradoxes as fruitful design starting points in another. In the tradition of RSD, a Gigamap Exhibition was organized. The exhibition showcased mind-blowing visuals that reveal the tension between our own desire for order and structure and our desire to capture real-life dynamics and contradicting perspectives. Many of us enjoyed the high quality and diversity in the keynotes throughout the symposium. As chair of the SDA, Dr. Silvia Barbero opened in her keynote with a reflection on the start and impressive evolution of the Relating Systems thinking and Design symposia. Prof.Dr. Derk Loorbach showed us how transition research conceptualizes shifts in societal systems and gave us a glimpse into their efforts to foster desired ones. Prof.Dr. Elisa Giaccardi took us along a journey of technologically mediated agency. She advocated for a radical shift in design to deal with this complex web of relationships between things and humans. Indy Johar talked about the need to reimagine our relationship with the world as one based on fundamental interdependence. And finally, Prof.Dr. Klaus Krippendorf systematically unpacked the systemic consequences of design decisions. Together these keynote speakers provided important insights into the role of design in embracing systemic complexity, from the micro-scale of our material contexts to the macro-scale of globally connected societies. And of course, RSD10 would not be an RSD symposium if it did not offer a place to connect around practical case examples and discuss how knowledge could improve practice and how practice could inform and guide research. Proceedings RSD10 has been the first symposium in which contributors were asked to submit a full paper: either a short one that presented work-in-progress, or a long one presenting finished work. With the help of an excellent list of reviewers, this set-up allowed us to shape a symposium that offered stage for high-quality research, providing a platform for critical and fruitful conversations. Short papers were combined around a research approach or methodology, aiming for peer-learning on how to increase the rigour and relevance of our studies. Long papers were combined around commonalities in the phenomena under study, offering state-of-the-art research. The moderation of engaged and knowledgeable chairs and audience lifted the quality of our discussions. In total, these proceedings cover 33 short papers and 19 long papers from all over the world. From India to the United States, and Australia to Italy. In the table of contents, each paper is represented under its RSD 10 symposium track as well as a list of authors ordered alphabetically. The RSD10 proceedings capture the great variety of high-quality papers yet is limited to only textual contributions. We invite any reader to visit the rsdsymposium.org website to browse through slide-decks, video recordings, drawing notes and the exhibition to get the full experience of RSD10 and witness how great minds and insights have been beautifully captured! Word of thanks Let us close off with a word of thanks to our dean and colleagues for supporting us in hosting this conference, the SDA for their trust and guidance, Dr. Peter Jones and Dr. Silvia Barbero for being part of the RSD10 scientific committee, but especially everyone who contributed to the content of the symposium: workshop moderators, presenters, and anyone who participated in the RSD 10 conversation. It is only in this complex web of (friction-full) relationships that we can further our knowledge on systemic design: thanks for being part of it! Dr. JC Diehl, Dr. Nynke Tromp, and Dr. Mieke van der Bijl-Brouwer Editors RSD10
Article
This article explores the use of design fiction as a vehicle for critically reflecting on the complex issue of sustainable food consumption and production. The paper presents the design fiction Bird, a food delivery service that provides food rations to its customers based on their exact nutritional needs and self-improvement goals. The service makes food consumption sustainable by design, leveraging individual lifestyle ambitions to circumvent the need to translate sustainability awareness into action. We discuss what it means to embed provocation, critique, and reflection in a design fiction that highlights potential preferable and non-preferable trajectories of change related to imaginaries of technocentric food futures. Through a design fiction artefact that reflects a complex set of ethical, social, cultural, political, and environmental issues related to food consumption, the aim is to examine how design fiction can serve as an entry point for imagining and critiquing possible futures.
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El bienestar es un tema de gran relevancia por ser un asunto humano de importancia central para la calidad de vida de las personas. Abarca muy diversas dimensiones de la vida humana que, sumadas, logran brindar bienestar integral a todo individuo; entre ellas podemos ubicar la dimensión afectiva que, es posible considerarla incluida en diversos conceptos acuñados desde diferentes ámbitos de estudio –como el denominado “bienestar mental” (ámbito de la medicina), el “bienestar subjetivo” (ámbito de la sociología) o el “bienestar psicológico” (ámbito de la psicología). La afectividad conjunta emociones, sentimientos y pasiones de una persona. Se trata de constructos que pertenecen a la naturaleza innata del ser humano, que son fundamentales; al ser parte necesaria e inseparable de la cognición que influye en la percepción, en el aprendizaje, la salud, la comunicación y aun en la toma de decisiones –de forma racional–. Sin embargo, por mucho tiempo y todavía en la actualidad, no se le ha dado toda la importancia que tiene. En nuestro mundo contemporáneo, solamente hasta poco antes del final del siglo XX, al fin se ha empezado a tomar conciencia de que nuestro estado emocional determina cómo vivimos y, por lo tanto, nuestro bienestar. En este marco, nace este libro con el objetivo de plantear la presencia y relevancia de la dimensión afectiva para fomentar bienestar integral en las personas a través del diseño. El texto surge del trabajo permanente de reflexión y discusión de la Red Académica de Diseño y Emociones (RADE) integrada por académicos que, desde diversas instituciones a nivel superior ubicadas alrededor del mundo, desarrollamos nuestra labor de investigación precisamente en relación con el tema “diseño y emoción”. El presente libro representa el tercer texto de la RADE, convocado en esta ocasión por la inquietud académica de llevar a cabo una exploración-reflexión sobre cuáles pueden ser las aportaciones de la perspectiva emocional del diseño para fomentar y contribuir al bienestar de las personas a largo plazo, y de manera significativa para los individuos y la sociedad. Así, se pretende aportar a la discusión teórica que guía la actividad proyectual en la disciplina del Diseño.
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