Weekending 11062011

Last week was fun and busy. The big thing that stands out was a sort of prodigal son’s return to the academic swampland — I went to the 4S — the Society for the Social Studies of Science conference in Cleveland Ohio. There I participated in a lovely little panel that had the overarching theme of the relationship of science, entertainment, fiction and fact. I shared my insights on the whole “design fiction” enterprise. I was humbled and happy to be there with David Kirby who continues to be a major catalyst for my thinking and lots of other people.

We called the panel The Fiction in the Science (full-colon, of course and then you say what you actually mean by that) : The Intersection of Fiction and STS. (STS is “science, technology and society”).

The basic idea is to discuss and describe and then (what I see as my role) operationalize insights into the prolific relationships amongst ideas and stories and the primary movers of societies today — science & technology. If the STS and 4S sorta people understand or are able to bring an analytic eye to the ways in which, for example, forensic science in television has shaped and informs popular understanding of law, investigation and jurisprudence — then what? So what? How are you able to turn that around and “operate on” those insights? Turn fiction into fact? Turn insight and observation into an actionable, doable creation — how do you do design with fiction, but really?

That operationalization comes from the observations of Kirby and others who have seen the ways that technical consultants of various sorts are able to have their particular perspectives turned into stories that large audiences engage and then accept as the way things are. I’m interested in this reality effect and how it can become part of what design does, to make things hopefully conscientiously better than they are.

We had one of those great dinner discussions the night before that is basically the main reason to go to these things. There was discussion about creating a center to study and produce things; to formalize the relationship between science, technology and science-fiction so that there is no more embarassment when a scientist/technologist draws from science fiction. So that there could be something like the <a href="How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional UniverseInstitute for Conceptual Technology — for real.

Other than the 4S, which was the highlight — there was continuing work on the prototypes for Project Audio. Printed circuit boards came in and got stared at as I’m out of solder paste and should’ve realized that a week or so ago. Hopefully it’ll be in this week. As well, ordered some more little parts for construction of a set of concepts from the workshop in London with RIG two weeks ago. Unrelated, but related — there was the second annual Girls Combi Pool Classic which marks a year of work on the photography book project. And I’m still not entirely done, but I did start a Kickstarter to hopefully get a limited print run of the book done.