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It has been argued that social technology assessment requires critique of the ‘worlds’ implicated in the future imaginaries through which expectations take shape around new technologies. Qualitative social science research can aid deliberation by exploring the meanings of technologies within everyday practices, as is demonstrate by Yolande Strengers’ ethnographic work on everyday energy use and imaginaries of ‘smartness’. In this paper, we show how a novel combination of narrative interviews and multimodal methods can help in explore future imaginaries of smartness through the lens of biographical experiences of socio-technical changes in how energy is used domestically. In particular, this approach can open up a critical space around future socio-technical imaginaries by exploring the investments that individuals have in different forms of engagement with the world and the relationship between these forms and particular technologies. Using a psychosocial framework that draws on theoretical resources from science and technology studies, we show how these investments can lead to shifts in the meaning of taken-for granted assumptions about the meaning of concepts like convenience, and how valued forms of subjectivity may be conceptualised as emerging out of the ‘friction’ of engagement with the world. In this way, we demonstrate the value for of ‘thick’ data relating to the affective dimensions of subjective experience for social technology assessment and responsible research and innovation.