Design fictions

One of the sessions I’m looking forward to at EPIC is the Design fictions workshop with Nicloas Nova and Anab Jain.

‘Design fiction?’, you ask, ‘what is that?’. Science fiction writer and futurist Bruce Sterling answers that in question this short piece in Slate:

“It’s the deliberate use of diegetic prototypes to suspend disbelief about change. That’s the best definition we’ve come up with.  The important word there is diegetic. It means you’re thinking very seriously about potential objects and services and trying to get people to concentrate on those rather than entire worlds or political trends or geopolitical strategies. It’s not a kind of fiction. It’s a kind of design. It tells worlds rather than stories.”

There’s a longer, more abstract description to be found in the latest issue of Digital Creativity

“In crafting this issue we were interested in reflecting on design fictions as a methodology and on the ways in which fictional constructs, such as future scenarios and ‘diegetic prototypes’ (D. Kirby 2009), might open design discourse. As much as we might perhaps simplistically suggest that the fictions of non-linear narrative, the achronological and asynchronous, have been central to contemporary media design and to media art, we might also say that the convergence of narrative and technology is central to design fictions: as we will see, design fictions exploit the power of media design to craft and deploy compelling visions of the future. Further than this, though, design fictions have become a significant means through which designers are exploring the ‘present’ condition of interface culture.“

And here’s an example, from the 1969 Kubrick film, 2001 A Space Odyssey featuring what looks very much like an iPad as a piece of design fiction 42 years before Apple released it: