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Designing The Future - Metadesign For Murph

An annotated version of my talk on Designing the Future from dConstruct 2015 in Brighton, delivered on 11th September. The talk explores the danger with living in a Superhero-saturated culture, lessons we can draw from Interstellar, and expanded ideas on what Metadesign, designing ways in which design can evolve by itself, can be viewed and put into practice.

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Designing The Future - Metadesign For Murph

  1. Metadesign for Murph @willsh John V Willshire Designing the future with lessons from Interstellar dConstruct 2015
  2. 773 days and 1.3 miles ago… pic:
  3. pic: I decided to go to the cinema
  4. MAN OF STEEL 2013 dir. Zac Snyder
  5. Most of my childhood superhero knowledge comes from here, Hamilton Library
  6. 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015 2 Worldwide admissions 1978 20101990 20021982 1986 1994 1998 2006 2014 Spiderman The Schumacher-Clooney near-extinction event Iron Man Kenneth Branagh’s Thor BatmanSuperman Avengers: Age Of Ultron Man of Steel Superhero films since I was born…
  7. It’s the first Superman film I’ve watched as a dad…
  8. I’m suddenly paying lots of attention to what the dads are doing.
  9. Me, my ideas, and fools who didn’t listen My child with my instructions A place where my ideas will save everyone
  10. It’s a film about parenting, and heroing
  11. Metaphorical Parenting: You’re a parent not just to children But also to people you work with Friends have have Peers you know Clients you create for
  12. Who’s doing the designing? Whose future is it anyway?
  13. Who ARE we?
  14. “Suddenly, here was an entire generation crying out for an evolved version of the things they were consuming as children” Simon Pegg
  17. In The Night Kitchen Maurice Sendak
  19. 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015 2 *Worldwide admissions, calculated using box office adjusted for ticket price inflation 1978 20101990 20021982 1986 1994 1998 2006 2014 Hey, can we get some Superhero films now too..?
  20. Catholic Guilt Batman
  21. Bro-bin Hood
  23. 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015 2 *Worldwide admissions, calculated using box office adjusted for ticket price inflation 1978 20101990 20021982 1986 1994 1998 2006 2014 These aren’t films. They’re franchise wormholes.
  24. Now we’re repackaging and sanitising it for our children too
  25. “I want to be batman”
  28. No. I’m trying to fight crime on the streets of Gotham.
  30. No. I’ve centred my fighting style on a ninja-like darkness. Sparkles won’t help.
  33. Are we trapped in a now-endless superhero culture?
  34. Is it helpful to live in a cultural universe where science and magic are so wilfully muddled?
  35. “Hey babe, your ancestors called it magic, and you call it science, but I come from a place where they’re one and the same thing”
  36. If we’re talking ‘designing the future’, it's better to leave that superhero universe and explore fiction grounded in reality
  37. inception interstellar
  38. "I liken it to the blockbusters I grew up with as a kid: edgy, incisive, challenging." Christopher Nolan
  39. Contains Spoilishes (Spoilers you will only know are spoilers if you’ve seen the film)
  40. “In Earth's future, a global crop blight and second Dust Bowl are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable.” Source: Google Description
  41. “Professor Brand, a brilliant NASA physicist, is working on plans to save mankind by transporting Earth's population to a new home via a wormhole.” Source: Google Description
  42. “But first, Brand must send former NASA pilot Cooper and a team of researchers through the wormhole and across the galaxy to find out which of three planets could be mankind's new home.” Source: Google Description
  43. We’ve seen this movie before…
  44. It’s a film about parenting, and heroing
  45. Prof. Brand has a massive equation
  46. Me, my ideas, and fools who didn’t listen My child with my instructions A place where my ideas will save everyone
  47. “I thought I was prepared. I knew the theory. Reality’s different”
  48. Dr. MannsplainingProf. Brand Dr. Mann
  49. Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Dylan Thomas
  50. ‘We’ don’t… How do we design for a future we can’t see?
  51. Different daughters This is a much more interesting parent/child relationship…
  52. Timey-wimey, wibbley-wobbley
  53. How do you design a world of designers?
  55. METADESIGN “to nurture the emergence of the previously unthinkable through interdisciplinary collaboration” Wikipedia
  56. “to nurture the emergence of the previously unthinkable through interdisciplinary collaboration”
  57. User-centric design Participative design Metadesign “You start, I’ll finish” “Let’s do it together” “Here - off you go…”
  58. METADESIGN Procedural Emergence Topologies Synergies Diagrams Languaging Interdisciplinarity
  59. Eh? A lot of the writing & terminology currently around metadesign is quite hard, specialist and academic.
  60. Instead, I thought I’d explore it using three stories…
  61. I ran a workshop at UX London in May. Part of it was a game we’ve played lots before…
  62. exploringIt uses Artefact Cards, which we make: These help people play with ideas more easily and intuitively
  63. Popular Thing For Broken Thing
  64. Write two cards with ‘popular things’ These are services you ove, and why you love them.
  65. Then write two cards with ‘broken things’ These are issues you, or others, have with a particular thing
  66. Then in teams of four, line up your eight popular things, and eight broken things. You now have TEN minutes to make EIGHT startups - ‘popular thing for broken thing’
  67. Each person then takes ONE idea, finds a partner from a different team, and pitches them their idea for a minute. Then the other person pitches back for a minute. You have a minute to think about your pitch again, then you find a new partner, and repeat three or four times. What happens is each idea either gets better, or gets worse. They just don’t remain UNKNOWN….
  68. I’ve always wondered why this works so well…
  69. The creative quartet - Prof. John Wood, TED, on Synergies Prof. John Wood
  70. - Prof. John Wood, TED, on Synergies Prof. John Wood 1 2 3 45 6 If I had two cards, I’d have 1 synergy. But with four cards, I can find 6. With eight cards, it becomes 22. With twelve cards, it’s now 66…
  71. Such a simple principle, but with massive exponential benefits
  72. Second story…
  73. This guy is Dmitri Mendeleev. He invented (well, discovered) the periodic table.
  74. In 1869, Dmitri Mendeleev published a periodic table. Mendeleev also arranged the elements known at the time in order of relative atomic mass, but he did some other things that made his table much more successful.
  75. To get to this, Mendeleev had created a card deck with all the elements, their properties, and the atomic weights on them. On long train journeys, he played what he called ‘element solitaire’ - sorting through the cards, exploring orders and connections… just finding patterns in the individual elements.
  76. What’s fascinating about Mendeleev’s table is not just the correct order he found for KNOWN elements, but the spaces his table had created. These spaces allowed him to deduce that there were other elements we had not yet discovered and should look for. He correctly predicted five elements we would discover, three of which were found before his death.
  77. Dan Dennett I thought about this in the context of something else Dennett brought out in his book ‘Intuition Pumps’…
  78. Rene Descartes The Cartesian Coordinates, the simple X & Y axes Dennett reminds us, are an invention, a discovery
  79. It’s one of the most useful tools, and so widely applicable beyond the specific disciplines we’re taught it in (Maths, Physics etc)
  80. Hans Ulrich Obrist, 2014 Oboist’s ‘Mapping It Out’ really demonstrates the wide applicability of this simple mapping idea.
  81. Like Tim Berners-Lee’s map of the internet
  82. Or Bruce Sterling’s map of the reading habits of Bruce Sterling readers…
  83. It’s so simple, you can do it with kids…
  85. Scott Smith - @changeist John V Willshire -@willsh Laura Clèries - @lcleries Andrew Colmenares - @colmenares Christina Bifano We did it in various ways when we taught this course in the summer
  86. “TIME AS A SPACE” Scott Smith, @changeist
  87. We made maps of people in the IED courtyard
  88. We made maps of the things we discovered in the Barcelona streets…
  89. The students used these maps to create fantastic prototypes for these future worlds they could see
  90. Again, a super simple tool with applications wherever you choose to apply it
  91. Third story…
  93. When we started working together, Fraser asked “what do you actually do…?” (it’s a good question)
  94. I’d just started exploring it more, thanks to two books that two different friends had recommended to me in the same week, by the same author. I like coincidences like this.
  95. but this year…
  96. 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 The books were written five books apart, but I was looking at them at the same time. As a result, I saw something that connected the two…
  97. What if these two models went together, somehow? What if people and space were intrinsically linked?
  98. slow moves slow fast moves fast
  99. This part is the gearbox
  100. When I looked closely at the gearbox, it occurred that there may be a way to think about the non- obvious connections between people and space
  101. S5 S4 S3 S2 S1 P5 P4 P3 P2 P1 Firstly. there’s the line of best fit, where slow moves slow, and fast moves fast
  102. The line of best fit…
  103. The slow drift east Cronuts for lunch S5 S4 S3 S2 S1 P5 P4 P3 P2 P1 In London, over the last ten years creative company have moved to new buildings around Old Street You look on the desks of these companies, and you can tell from the foodstuffs what is currently fashionable
  104. Look away from the line, and you see other more interesting uses, often powered by technology
  105. S5 S4 S3 S2 S1 P5 P4 P3 P2 P1 Lighting displays based on actions You can use fast people actions (sales,productivity, noise) to chance the look and feel inside and outside of the building through lighting
  106. S5 S4 S3 S2 S1 P5 P4 P3 P2 P1 The cultural judo of iPads for all Changing the way that everyone accesses the company in their personal space could created a massive cultural shift nearly overnight
  107. S5 S4 S3 S2 S1 P5 P4 P3 P2 P1 This system view allows us to think well about the sorts of problems, and first initial solutions, might pop out from thinking about people and space as a whole
  108. We have a simple version we can quickly sketch out as a tool for thinking…
  109. But we also needed a way to access the depth of possibility contained in the system view
  110. S5 S4 S3 S2 S1 P5 P4 P3 P2 P1 What could we use to populate each of these cells?
  111. “I just don’t think your bookshelves are trying to talk to you, Murph” Coop
  112. I spent a weekend dancing around stacks of books, making a physical representation of the system of our practice
  113. just in time… 31 posts image?
  114. “The acquisition of books is by no means a matter of money or expert knowledge alone. Not even both factors together suffice for the establishment of a real library.” - Walter Benjamin
  115. It’s not having the ability to buy books, nor the knowledge of which books to buy, that makes a library
  116. It’s knowing how all the books relate to each other.
  117. What matters is what’s between the covers, but not on the pages
  118. All libraries are five-dimensional
  119. S5 S4 S3 S2 S1 P5 P4 P3 P2 P1 System views as shared mental models
  120. Map views, as reads on certain circumstances
  121. Element views, to quickly explore connections
  122. S5 S4 S3 S2 S1 P5 P4 P3 P2 P1 It's pretty simple…
  123. METADESIGN …and contains a lot of the composite parts of Metadesign
  124. We know this is a thing When you look for it, we see it in the practices we all value everyday
  125. But why don’t people present this as simple? Why present it as a difficult thing instead…?
  126. Is wireframing really heroic?
  127. We’re driven by the systems we work in to value ‘specialisms’
  128. Superheroes are specialists
  129. Specialists face off against specific problems
  130. When we do find superhero who are generalist, who can assume all the powers, it breaks the narrative. There’s no tension.
  131. IRL, we don’t get to write our own villains
  132. We don’t know… …what they’re going to face
  133. We don’t know what jobs future generations will want to do,or have to do
  134. We can’t see the knock- on effects of the world we’re leaving for them
  135. “How do we create adaptive, living people?” Prof. John Wood
  136. METADESIGN Procedural Emergence Topologies Synergies Diagrams Languaging Interdisciplinarity
  137. Metadesign is not rocket science
  138. Metadesign is not a superpower
  139. Metadesign is a vital, basic skill set
  140. It's what we can pass on - designing the future is not defining their future
  141. Help them create a future that’s edgy, incisive, challenging
  142. Leastmodernism? Apply the attitude and belief of modernism, but to the intention of doing less, not more
  143. A manifesto for leastmodernism How can we do less? How can we have one client instead of ten? Work with five colleagues indeed of five hundred. Find customers who only want to buy once? How can we have one car instead of two? Three bedrooms instead of five? Buy two, leave the third where it is? How can we do this in a day and not a week? Write one sentence, say ten words, make one thing once? How do we create the most value from doing the least we can? More is less, more or less.
  144. If you want to find out more about Metadesign, please visit:
  145. Thank you @willsh John V Willshire