Tag Archives: future

‘Parallel Worlds’: Design Interactions and ADSO4 at RCA

Went to a great alumni event on Thursday night hosted by Design Interactions and Architecture departments at the RCA about speculative storytelling called ‘Parallel Worlds’. An opportunity to see projects that hint at alternative sets of underlying values and alternative political/economic/social situations.

It was a real opportunity to see some graduates and current students work in a 7 minute pecha kucha style presentation format. It had the essence of being in a crit but with beer and without the criticism!
For me it was the first time I had seen architecture student’s work from the platform run by Gerard and previously Fiona. As it was a night of storytelling about possible, preferable, plausible, potential futures each presenter had a particular concern relating to social and cultural implications of technologies/scientific developments ranging from the post-antibiotic era and atavism, nuclear waste and the cyborg self to energy pasts, biometrics and gait analysis at the airport. Each was expressed with an opening question and then a description of a scenario/ investigation using film, montage, design prototypes etc.

The real interesting thing for me that came out of that evening was the chance to see the similarities and differences in how the two courses speculate, communicate and develop projects.  There are obviously different guidance curriculums for DI and for ADS4. DI deals in broad scope and in depth but with no direct methodologies or ways of exploring something and not always a defined end point i.e. services, products, films or installation or interventions.  I realised the ADS4 have obviously very different end goals to any project explorations, they will inevitably design a building.

Presenters and their project summaries:

DRIVING WITH THE JONES_NICOLA KOLLER (ADS04 2003) Driving with the Jones explores a world in which the English countryside might finally succumb to tragi-pathogens, falling EEC subsides and ever decreasing profits.
THE RACE_ MICHAEL BURTON (DI 2007) www.michael-burton.co.uk Can human metagenomics give us new ideals of health, enhancement and success as a “super-organism”?
THE GREAT INDOORS _ TOMAS KLASSNIK (ADS04 [2006]) _  [www.klassnik.com] Do we still want to participate directly in society? or would we prefer to interact solely through the comforting distance of the internet?
ORGANIC HYBRIDS AND THE POSTBIOLOGICAL WORLD _ REVITAL COHEN (DI 2008) revitalcohen.com Could cross-breeding of the natural kingdoms give birth to new sorts of cyborgs?
Can embracing the health benefits of toxicity persuade society to trust nuclear power?
THE GOLDEN INSTITUTE _ SASCHA POHFLEPP (DI 2009) What would have become of the future of energy if Ronald Reagan had never happened?
ETERNALLY YOURS : HUMAN(ITY) SHIELD _ CLAIRE JAMIESON (ADS04 2009) Can the disposal of nuclear waste be ensured for 10,000 years by the creation of a synthetic mythology?
SELF DEFENSE : BERNHARD HOPFENGAERTNER (DI 2009) How will the disclosure of our private emotions alter the way we see ourselves?
Can a new school typology remove societies fear of children?
THE PHYSICS OF THE IMPOSSIBLE- NELLY BEN HAYOUN (DI 2009) “How can I make a galaxy in my kitchen sink, professor?”

My ‘Post RCA Adventures’ Presentation

The Jessica Post RCA Adventure Happiness Diagram

The Jessica Post RCA Adventure Happiness Diagram

A presentation given to the 1st and 2nd years of MA Design Interactions at the RCA about my Post RCA adventures since 2007. A great opportunity for reflecting on my past and deciding on my future. Quite a weird feeling going back to college but was nice to meet with the students especially to also be sharing my presentation time with Anab Jain and Susanna Soares. There was an overall optimistic feeling especially as these students will be graduating  smack bang in the middle of credit crunch. There was a group wave of joy as we all decided that these students wil be changing the face of recession and by their very enthusiasm and forward critical thinking approaches they will be creating the new design economy. Design is kicking ass at last!

Brain scanners, Ian Jindal and predicting how we will consume!

hitachi's brain scanner

hitachi's brain scanner from Tech-On

Heard an amazing talk at Sense Towers the other week where Ian Jindal came to speak to us about e-commerce and the future of how we will consume! A brilliant and very frank presentation that he has given to a variety if audiences around the country but this time it was to us Sensers. Check out his presentation.

He spoke of issues that are changing thw way we shop online. Data has been mashed up in such ways that now real magic can be performed as more intelligent methods of using data are being applied to predict or maybe even affect our shopping habits. Using APML: attention profiling markup language , hypodata and epiphonomenology (esp), “digital businesses can now make use of behavioural data and interaction to propose a model to consider, anticipate and exploit the phenomena that arise from new uses of data,  the ‘attention economy’ as it has now been coined.”

He also pointed out an amazing article that was discussed in Nature Neuroscience  about brain scanenrs being able to see your decisions before you act on them, suggesting free will does not exist and how we unconsciously make decisions before our bodies realise and react: AMAZING!!!!   NS link or WIRED link

By scanning the brains of test subjects as they pressed one button or another – though not a computer mouse – researchers pinpointed a signal that divulged the decision about seven seconds before people ever realised their choice. The discovery has implications for mind-reading, and the nature of free will. “Our decisions are predetermined unconsciously a long time before our consciousness kicks in,” says John-Dylan Haynes, a neuroscientist at the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience in Berlin, who led the study. It definitely throws our concept of free will into doubt, he adds.

This schematic shows the brain regions (green) from which the outcome of a participant's decision can be predicted before it is made. Courtesy John-Dylan Haynes.

This schematic shows the brain regions (green) from which the outcome of a participant's decision can be predicted before it is made. Courtesy John-Dylan Haynes and Wired.

Thoughts on design + futures: design = futures?

From Alex Soojung-Kim Pang recent blogessay “thoughts on design + futures”, he discusses the importance of design in discussing futures, this validates exactly how i see design is a tool to debate, discuss, create and influence what happens next through very visually inspiring and disturbing means. Design has always been about planning the next step and making it tangible and design research is constantly evolving in response to exploring ways we understand, visualise, prepare and react to possible, plausible and probable futures. Depending on the design tools that have been learnt (eg. MA Design Interactions, RCA), a designer can create parallel scenarios/worlds/futures/mental models and depending on how empathetic they are to imagining peoples actions/reactions they can then imagine the implications of new services, systems, products and platforms within these future worlds. Depending on the design approach, it is fundamental to how we  make decisions as a collective or help facilitate decision making to provoke the darkest and the lightest of approaches to our futures.

“To create a futures appropriate for the 21st century and its challenges, we futurists don’t have to become designers, any more than we have to be printers or graphic artists today. But we do need to learn some of the tools of design, learn from designers how to study people’s interactions with technologies, and pay attention to how people create mental models and imaginary worlds through things. In exchange, we can contribute to the design of things that make the world and the future more comprehensible, and better.” Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

Tribal Futures: RCA + Vodafone project


In December ’08 I was asked to be an ’embedded reporter’ for the RCA MA Design Interactions “Tribal Futures” project, sponsored by Vodafone. Working alongside Matt Jones, Onkar Kular and Tony Dunne, my duties included attending talks and tutorials in order to populate the Tribal Futures research blog that was used as a shared communication channel between all students of the MA course and members of the Vodafone UX team in London and Dusseldorf. The 4 week project asked the students to consider the implications the emergent changes in communications technology will have on group behaviour. To identify or create a group and propose design interventions to support, subvert and celebrate tribal connections. Somegreat stuff came out of the project and I really enjoyed working alongside the clever people at the RCA.

Matt has written a great summary on his Magic Nihilism blog with some little snippets about the various projects by the students  and the visiting speakers who were involved in the project including Clay Shirky, Will Davies, Richard Pope, Nina Pope and Onkar Kular.

Please check out the Tribal Futures website & if you wanna see how the process went ; there are various blog entries about the students  progress and a variety of research insights along the way ,then visit the Tribal Futures Research Blog


Here are a few links about Vodafone + Experentia‘s KashKlash blog. A public domain project conceived and led by Heather Moore of Vodafone’s Global User Experience Team and run by Experientia.

Its a “what is the future of money/transaction/microfinance in relation to mobility?” kind of blog with selected clever people writing posts (Bruce Sterling, Regine Debatty, Nicholas Nova):

“We are envisioning a new world where today’s aging, less useful and even dangerous financial systems

are replaced by or mixed with more disruptive innovations and exchanges. Imagine yourself deprived of all of today’s financial resources. Maybe you’re a refugee or stateless. Yet you still have your handset and laptop and Internet and a broadband cellphone connection….”

Bruce Sterling on Kashklash
KashKlash Facebook Group

The Delphi Party at EPIC

The Delphi Party at EPIC

The Delphi Party at EPIC (Photo: Kate Rutter)

The Delphi Party poster at EPIC

The Delphi Party poster at EPIC

Exploratree Thinking Tools by futurelab + microsoft

Those clever chaps at Futurelab have created a beta online tool that enables people to think visually! Think of all those mind maps you have done in the past that have been completely disorganized and free form. But with exploratree they will help you create frameworks for futures wheel (my favourite), a compass rose (!) and a pmi!!