Examples from Dourish & Bell

Doctor Who (1963–1989)

The Doctor Who site, characters and themes

Star Trek (1966–1969)

– The original series

Make it so blog: The combadge

Blake’s 7 (1978–1981)

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Mirror of human society

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1981)

Blade Runner (1982)

Designed fictions = science fiction + science facts

Julian Bleeker’s insightful essay on has helped me find an apt definition for Designed Fictions – it is a conflation of science fiction and scientific facts. He illuminates this using the example of Ubiquitous Computing and Minority Report.

One concept that particularly stuck out for me, and something that frames DF from my HCI perspective, is that of Diegetic Prototypes. It’s the idea of expanding prototypes beyond mere functional representations of what is possible to something that leverages narrative and story telling to transport the audience into a believable future. Diegetic Prototypes are a way of using objects (design) to narrate stories of possible futures (fiction). It’s exciting to me as a designer because it breaks the constraints of appealing to a customer base and present functional limitations but keeps the focus on people and their interactions with objects around them.

Finally, why does any of this matter? What’s the role of Designed Fictions in our society? Julian Bleeker says it best –
“…It all matters because we care about imagining and materializing future habitable worlds. We care so much that finding effective mechanisms for creating these more habitable worlds really is our concern. Smart, creative, imaginative ways of linking ideas to their materialization really do matter, because the future matters, and we will use whatever means possible to do create these better worlds, including the simultaneous deployment of science, fact, fiction and design.”