Market Attuned

OK a little on the market from Tonkinwise’s “How We Intend to Future:” “Speculative designs must work homeopathically with the same language of desire and imagination as market-let product design but in order to constitute the very alternative futures that market-led product design refuses” (181). Here, I think, we run into an argument that we have been having in class this whole semester: what kind of audience is design fiction attempting to reach and what tools is it using to get there? Even the idea that reaching a wide audience is connected inherently to an idea’s value seems to employ the same flawed logic of, “if they buy it, then it’s good” or “75 million NASCAR fans can’t be wrong,” or, you know, vise-versa.
So can we or should we reframe the question of appeal? Because not any kind of appeal can carry any kind of idea, and the ideas that we may want to convey, say, of “positively affirmed” futures may not be able to travel via the same “sexy” traditional means of appeal (to use Tonkinwise’s example, of high end fashion aesthetics, or noir aesthetics), nor, perhaps, should they. But then what do we have available to reach an audience? Or should this kind of mass appeal even be a priority? The problem is, finally, as Tonkinwise also suggests, that DnR offer no real theory of change—how is shopping our way to better futures actually going to change anything of the larger context?

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