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Staging systems to feel round the corners of Transition Design

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The challenges our societies face, such as climate change, require radical innovation (Proactionary Principle [Fuller]). But the complexity of our societies also demand that we be more attentive to the consequences of those innovations (Precautionary Principle). The challenges we face are, after all, the result of previously unanticipated consequences. It is by definition not possible to anticipate ‘black swans,’ but we should perhaps expect more than to cultivate an anti-fragility that merely awaits shocks [Talib]. How then to develop rich senses of the consequences of innovations designed to respond to phenomena like climate change?

We call this capacity ‘seeing around corners,’ since the aim is not merely to build a system model that can predict an end state, but instead to sense what is possible and likely once at the position of that end-state. An analogy would be the ability to forsee texting-while-driving whilst designing the user experience of a cell phone.

Theoretically, the point would be that designers have privileged access to niche temporarily materialized potential futures, as such they need to be equipped to not only make effective decisions about quality of life, but also be aware of the moral and ethical consequences of instantiating these futures in the wider world.

As an aside, we are interested in ‘feeling around corners’ in reaction to an increasing tendency in commercial systems design to give up on larger-scale forethought and instead trust in Lean Emergence. We wish to preserve the Situatedness that comes from these ways of working (that is a corrective to temptations to ‘See like a State’ Planning), but nevertheless see the need for more forceful directedness, especially when negotiating societal challenges requiring strong, voluntary actions.

Published in: Design

Staging systems to feel round the corners of Transition Design

  1. 1. Staging Systems to Feel Round the Corners of Transition Design Joshua Bloom PhD Candidate Carnegie Mellon University ! Cameron Tonkinwise Director of Design Studies Carnegie Mellon University
  2. 2. Designing is taking decisions based on too little information -Joep Frens
  3. 3. Design is making sense of systems (in futures) Design is making sense of things (to others) ! - Krippendorff
  4. 4. ! Malafouris, Lambros; Renfrew, Colin (2013-07-12). How Things Shape the Mind: A Theory of Material Engagement
  5. 5. If designers think in terms of ‘form’ at all it is in relation to static object(ives). -Terry Irwin
  6. 6. -Terry Irwin
  7. 7. @cyetain Pragmatic and Epistemic Action DAVID KIRSH AND PAUL MAGLIO 94 Goals
  8. 8. Designers have privileged access to niche temporarily materialized potential futures, as such they need to be equipped to not only make effective decisions about quality of life, but also be aware of the moral and ethical consequences of instantiating these futures in the wider world. ! Understanding Of Embodied Future Practices ! This is what we mean by Feeling Around Corners
  9. 9. Ideal Future Forecasting Current State Ideal Future State Gap
  10. 10. A B1 B2 Choice/Options
  11. 11. Backcasting Now Next
  12. 12. Inertia (forces) A1 B A2Á Gap
  13. 13. Scenario Planning A B1 B2 B3 Wide
  14. 14. Scanning AÁ B1 B2 B3
  15. 15. Now Next
  16. 16. Already Now Next Dispositional (constructive)
  17. 17. Dispositional (physics) Always Already Now
  18. 18. Undesigned Transition Now Next Transition
  19. 19. Transitional Now Next Not Yet
  20. 20. Past Present Future How do I make sense of the world so that I can act in it? How do I make sense of the actions I have taken in the world? What would make sense in the world created by my actions? Posthoc Rationalization Mindfulness/Dispostionality Retrospective Coherence Sense Making Prospective Coherence Feeling Around Corners
  21. 21. Coherence Always Already Now Next Not Yet Dispositional Prospective Retrospective Coherence How do I make sense of Now based in the past Prospective Coherence What will I need to make sense of in a future?
  22. 22. Catastrophic Safe Observable Unseen Unknowable Waste Around Corners Proactionary Make it and See Precautionary Make it Safe then See Risk/Outcomes Black Swans
  23. 23. What would it look like, feel like if this intervention was going well? ! (how would we amplify that?)
  24. 24. What would it look like, feel like if this intervention was going bad? ! (how would we dampen that?)
  25. 25. What would it look like, feel like if this intervention was failing? ! (how would we recover from that?)
  26. 26. Thank You Joshua Bloom jabe@cmu.edu @cyetain PhD Candidate Carnegie Mellon University ! Cameron Tonkinwise Director of Design Studies Carnegie Mellon University

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