An Email With Three Design Fiction QuestionssAn Email With Three Design Fiction Questionss
An Email With Three Design Fiction Questionss

Design Fiction Archetypes are the containers into which a Design Fiction is embedded. Want to know more?

Contributed By: Julian Bleecker

Published On: Wednesday, July 6, 2022 at 07:45:40 PDT

  1. I’m not crowing about this next graf.

  2. I receive emails from earnest folks really wanting to understand design fiction and that’s awesome and amazing. I like that people feel they can reach out this way. I want to help, truly.

  3. The real world bit is that if I answer each email as richly as I would like, or even at all, I’m replying to emails all day and, more significantly, I’m doing something for someone with no suitable value back to me.

  4. That is to say, my ideas, thoughts, creativity, considerations, recommendations, advice costs something to me and, in email, there is as of yet no way for someone to say — 

  5. “Hey..that was awesome and of value and now I can do my job better than I could before you wrote me back and answered my questions/told me what to do. Here’s some money for you.”

  6. So I end up feeling like I want to answer but I don’t, or maybe I offer them the chance for a call with a fee attached to the 50 minutes, to suggest to them that they are getting something and I reasonably expect something in exchange.

  7. Okay, there’s that.

  8. Now, here’s an example of an email from a month or so ago. It’s a good one. Reasonable questions from someone trying to figure out design fiction. I didn’t reply in email, but I am replying here after they asked again for an answer to help spread the value of my time working on this around more.

  9. Please consider supporting the Discord, newsletter and Podcast. (Thank you to all 21 of you who support this work.)

(Sans salutation, the email equivalent of a ‘Cold Open’.)

  1. You use the design fiction tool to build physical products for organizations. Do you also use it sometimes to stir the imagination of the employees? I mean not focusing on building a physical product particularly but trying to stir their imagination and pushing them to come up with unique ideas? A design fiction workshop aimed at broadening the employees horizon about xyz industry (A vague example)? Like this?

    • Me Yes. It is always about that. That is the main point, even as organizations and creative teams may be more interested in a specific kind of output, like help us understand the future of luxury, or water, or food, or computer interfaces. They may not realize it (most do at some level), but they are also learning how to shift their perspectives about possibility and futures along the way. And of course giving their imagination a bit of exercise. We don’t answer with predictions, but with a sense of the implications of change, which can be multiple.
  2. I suppose that you will need different data points (such as ethnographic observations, brainstorming with people from diverse fields, watching movies etc.) to build products for a brand. One of the data points which I assume is that you will explore different science fiction novels. For instance, you guys at near future laboratory created a *fictional self-driving car manual.*Did you explore some sci-fi novels based on self-driving cars? 

    • Me I wouldn’t necessarily assume that a data point are different science fiction novels. Science fiction novels may never come up. What I think you may mean is that science fiction (whether a novel, film, short story, parable, etc.) is part of the imaginary and as such shapes and informs what we think about when someone says, ’future cars’, or asks, ‘what’s the future of the car.’
    • Sometimes it may come up. I don’t recall any sci-fi novels with self-driving cars coming up in that specific project to be honest:
    • Our project documentation the IxDA Workshop on the Self-Driving Car describes the process we went through, and it doesn’t seem to mention sci-fi novels, which wouldn’t prevent anyone doing a similar workshop and deliberately using sci-fi novels as a data point. We just didn’t, I suspect because there is so much extant material that is as evocative (or even more so) than what you might expect to find in a sci-fi novel.
  1. I have mentioned different data points in point 2. Can you please send me the list all the data sources from where you gather data.

    • Me Sorry. I can’t do that. I wouldn’t even know where/how to start. 😏
    • I also don’t entirely understand the point of the question, if I’m honest. The ‘data sources’ are the observable world. They are the things I individually see and get a reaction from. They are the things the rest of the participants see and find in the world, and feel could contribute to making sense of a near future world in which there needs to be a manual for a self-driving car. They are not something that could be assembled into a list. They are what we do as we “do” design fiction — we learn to look and observe and translate into meaningful form. This is a skill developed over time, like learning to find meaning in the world, observational skills, questioning and interrogating and asking “why” and “what else”. (We get into this aspect of things in ‘The Manual of Design Fiction’.

Me Thank you for your thoughtful questions. I hope this is helpful. Perhaps you might find more insights on these points through the Near Future Laboratory Discord or listening to some of the conversations I have with some remarkable practitioners in this general space in the Near Future Laboratory Podcast

Kind regards,

Julian Bleecker