Response to Speculative design: crafting the speculation

This article offered some interesting points. I was particularly interested in how they described the benefits and limitations of using uncanny situations to influence the audience. The use of desirable discomfort I feel is one of the most compelling aspects of Design Fiction. This however, is strictly prohibited in commercial design. Commercial design is meant to be agreeable and comfortable to the public. It is meant to fit seamlessly into their present lives. Any technological advancements are subtle and parsed out in product update doses. The iPhone 4, 4s, 5, 5s each a minor evolution of itself. These subtle updates might not necessarily reflect the most advanced technology available at the time, but rather the most acceptable advanced technology. The small increments in “technology advancement doses” allow the public to accept changes before new ones are issued. The effect is that people hardly notice any change at all.

By dosing product advancements can companies inject new technologies and paradigms for interaction which affect changes in society that are in-perceivable at the time of implementation? If this is true it is the job of design fiction to expose the possible long term effects of these advancements before they happen. The designer can propose potential futures based on current advancement trajectories, then leave it to the viewer to contemplate whether this is a future they are comfortable with. However, s described in the article, these speculations must be “dosed” in their own way.

“…the careful management of the speculation… a bridge to exist between the audience’s perception of their world and he fictional element of the concept.”

The article brings up another interesting point about the the similarities and differences between fiction as presented through literature, cinema, and design. All require some suspension of reality and make use of uncanny situations to manipulate their audience. These similarities often make it difficult to distinguish between a piece of design fiction and a piece of science fiction. The distinction however, lies in the context.

“Speculative designs, however, are played out in real life. Presence of the designed artefact…allows for the viewer to project its presence into his or her own life. Then they effectively become the protagonist.”

With this in mind it may be argued that although both employ many of the same methods, science fiction written with entertainment in mind whereas design fiction is aimed at social disruption.



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