Design Fiction II: The Digital Divide

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In “Can The Subaltern Speak?”, Gayatri Spivak coined the word “subaltern” to describe the voices of those who exist on the fringes of socio-political discourse, those who’s voices are rarely considered or brought to light in the discourse of scholarship. My idea for the second project deals with an analogous problem in design discourse, where I consider what will happen to those who would be excluded from the kinds of technological invention promised by design. How will those living on less than $5 a day (as defined by the World Bank), live a hundred years (two hundred?) from now? In a world where new forms of technologies (communication, computing, biological etc.), offer possible promising solutions to growing problems of overpopulation, resource management etc., how will those on the other side of the digital divide benefit, if at all? How will they live? What kind of future can we envision for the global poor?

For some initial reasearch, I’m looking at the work that design firms like Proximity Design are doing (http://www.proximitydesigns.org/) are doing, resources like Ideo’s Design for the Poor (http://patterns.ideo.com/issue/quality_design_for_the_poor/), as well as science fiction scenarios which deal with issues of urban poverty like Warren Ellis’ comic book series Transmetropolitan and Ian Mcdonald’s Cyberabad Days.

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