SXSW 2010 Interactive Proposal – Design Fiction

Tuesday July 21, 21.18.24

Burger stand, downtown Los Angeles. I have never eaten here. And I probably won’t. I’m generally not particularly brave when it comes to street foods. But it’s a curious, particularly Los Angeles thing, I think.

Fortuitously, the SXSW folks provided a brief window of opportunity for us delinquents to submit a panel proposal in the “Late” category of things. Which I have done on behalf of several of us kindred design fictionists. The panel proposal machine at SXSW is wonderfully constrained – 8 word titles, 50 word descriptions, 10 sharp, short questions that will be addressed. This helps one go through the proposed panels efficiently. Unfortunately, when I was composing notes for the panel proposal, I got all academic-y and definitely had an enormous, colon-filled title, and about 300+ words of description.

Well, I winnowed it all down, and you can vote on our proposal here:

You’ll have to register, but I suspect all 37 people who occasionally read over my shoulder here are already in the SXSW system.

You confidence in our ability to bring insights and thoughtful examples, and practical take-aways is always appreciated. As usual.

Loosely associated and perhaps participating if this all happens will hopefully be, besides myself: Nicolas Nova (, Sascha Pohflepp (, Jake Dunagan ( Bruce Sterling ( and Stuart Candy (

The too-long proposal, for my own record of things written, is this:

Design Fiction: Using Props, Prototypes and Speculation In Design

This panel will present and discuss the idea of “design fiction”, a kind of design genre that expresses itself as a kind of science-fiction authoring practice. Design fiction crafts material visions of different kinds of possible worlds.

Design’s various ways of articulating ideas in material can be seen as a kind of practice close to writing fiction, creating social objects (like story props) and experiences (like predicaments or scenarios). In this way, design fiction may be a practice for thinking about and constructing and shaping possible near future contexts in which design-led experiences are created that are different from the canonical better-faster-cheaper visions owned by corporate futures.

This panel will share design fiction projects and discuss the implications for design, strategy and technology innovation. In particular, how can design fiction bolster bolster the communication of new design concepts by emphasizing rich, people-focused storytelling rather than functionality? How can design fiction become part of a process for exploring speculative near futures in the interests of design innovation? What part can be played in imagining alternative histories to explore what “today” may have become as a way to underscore that there are no inevitabilities — and that the future is made from will and imagination, not determined by an “up-and-to-the-right” graph of better-faster-cheaper technologies.

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