Design Fiction is The New Breakfast Club

Having read Anab Jan’s (and co.) The Power of 8: Encouraging Collaborative DIY Futures, I found a few of her notes quite curious she made that raised questions and a larger narrative that I sensed woven throughout much of the paper.

“In contrast [to single authored visions], building a collaborative vision with the input from a range of people involves dealing with conflicting aims and viewpoint, both in the process and in the outcomes.”

Yes, Sure. Working with others helps us frame our own wants, our own contexts–while this isn’t particularly groundbreaking, stating it up front set the tone for an essay that goes through great depth to demonstrate just how collaborative and transformative this experience was for the eight ad-hoc members.

“Thus despite an initial aim to be ‘democratic’, at times the designer played the role of facilitator”

Right. Where there is democracy, there are elections. Had the others in the group elected the ‘designer’ into this position, simply because of her praxis’ stereotypes. Or was there something in her posture? Were there any clues to her profession? Was her ‘title’ self-confessed or did she give off ‘designer’ vibes? See, this is an area of reflection: could this assignment have been done just as well or as nuanced if no one was allowed to state their profession and all were required to wear a similar uniform? Something tells me that there were distinct taste-regimes at play…In any case, I’m glad Anab was able to reference this difficulty with ‘democratic futures’.

At a higher level, whilst I found this article incredibly encouraging, I felt the entire project outcomes a very anti-disciplinary approach that sometimes felt a bit light-footed. By this, I mean that whereas these outcomes are important, I did feel that some were either unsurprising or unimpactful. Perhaps the discipline of design fiction is just in need of these wild, shared, collaborative new approaches to designing in order to build its public opinion or lure sci-fi writers and bio-scientists. Maybe there just needs to be something, out there, some new documentation for a very old tale of collaboration. Perhaps that will give the field a leg up on its more practised counterparts, social design, interaction design, policy, architecture, engineering, etc.

Alas, some point in the article, I simply could not get the opening/final scene of The Breakfast Club out of my head:

I mean, can’t you hear it? Just reimagine the scene kept coming up with a script translated to this project:

“You see us as you want to see us…in the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a speculator, an educator, an interaction designer, a permaculturist, a policy researcher, an urbanist, a retired Civil Servant, and a Biomedical Scientist. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, Design Fiction.”


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