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Design and Futures

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Design and Futures is a major collection of essays, manifestos, interviews and peer-reviewed articles, edited by Stuart Candy (Carnegie Mellon University) and Cher Potter (Victoria and Albert Museum), documenting 'design futures' discourse and practice around the world. First published as back-to-back volumes in the open access Journal of Futures Studies, the present compilation preserves the original formatting while unifying all 30 pieces between covers for the first time. Forty-nine contributors from 16 countries write on topics ranging from worldbuilding and curriculum design to temporality and decolonisation, as well as new methods and processes that build on over a decade of experiential futures, speculative design and related practices. Design and Futures will be an essential reference for anyone working or studying in either field. Also available in a print-on-demand paperback, at cost: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1709990082/
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Conference Paper
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This paper argues that design fiction is a powerful term in part because it is malleable. A wide range of differing design fictions are emerging and we pursue a spatial metaphor to provide a map based on literary approaches. Following Margaret Atwood we trace design fiction back to marvel and wonder tales such as the Arabian Nights through to the science fiction of the nineteenth and twentieth century. We suggest science, magic, ambiguity and irony as the cardinal points of design fiction. We then apply these four different approaches to design fiction to the concept of a divorce app for older people. We argue that currently design fiction is dominated by scientistic and ironic design fiction and suggest that magic and ambiguity are currently under explored.
Chapter
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The collection "Transforming the Future", edited by Riel Miller, presents the results of significant research undertaken by UNESCO, with its partners, to define the theory and practice of anticipation around the world today, using the core concept of Futures Literacy. This chapter "Gaming Futures Literacy" explores the award-winning imagination game "The Thing From The Future" co-created by Stuart Candy and Jeff Watson. Used by learners, leaders and creatives worldwide, it was designed to help take strategic foresight and futures literacy from difficult and rare to easier and more common.
Chapter
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This chapter explores parallels between action research and futures studies to suggest approaches to “Futures Action Research (FAR).” I describe links between foresight inquiry and action research, and how futures studies as a field has evolved toward participatory action modalities. I then provide examples of future studies approaches that exemplify what Reason and Bradbury call 1st-, 2nd- and 3rd-person approaches to action research. Contemporary issues in the confluence of action research and futures studies are explored to provide two approaches I have developed, the Futures Action Model and Co-creation Cycle for Anticipatory Design. It concludes with a call to further develop a Futures-oriented Action Research that can more directly provide value to both fields.
Article
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For futures studies to impact mainstream culture and contribute to civilisation-scale “social foresight” it must be capable of bridging the “experiential gulf” between abstract possible futures, and life as it is directly apprehended in the embodied present. Some suggestions are offered for core skills and sensibilities to be cultivated by futurists in order to engage the experiential register.
Thesis
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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.
Article
This article provides a first-hand account of the design, execution, and outcomes of a course in experiential futures, featuring perspectives from the instructor and all 6 students. These reflections are personal and conversational in tone, but are synthesized in the conclusion to draw out more general insights for teachers and practitioners. The main lessons learned from the course revolve around the power of "telescoping" from the abstract realm of possibilities to the concreteness of constitutions and artifacts, and back, without losing contact with either. In this article we manifest multiple intellectual, personal, and institutional layers and the "real-life" dynamics involved in executing a graduate-level course in experiential futures. By drawing out some of the most important lessons and insights from the course, we hope readers will learn, incorporate, and improve upon the pedagogical processes described in their own current and future courses.