In 1998, Steven Spielberg convened a panel of experts in Santa Monica hotel to convert the script of Minority Report from science fiction to “future reality.” The result was one of the most captivating (albeit mainstream), visualizations of a potential technological future in recent memory. The film is now something of a benchmark for measuring the evolution of certain technologies, in how close they appear like the futuristic creations made by special effects in the film.
But the process of putting technologists and creators of fiction together in the same room—or even merging the activities in one person’s job description—is hardly limited to big budget productions. Corporations, artists, designers, and more all take part in a process that is known by several names, but which is generally recognized now under the name of “design fiction.”
Design fiction is a process of merging fictional worlds with the creative design in this world, hybridizing our notions of reality and fiction into particular objects, with a look to the future. In his seminal 2009 “Design Fiction: A Short Essay on Design, Science, Fact and Fiction,” Julian Bleecker frames the combination as, “assemblages of various sorts, part story, part material, part idea-articulating prop, part functional software. The assembled design fictions are component parts for different kinds of near future worlds.”
We can have a look to many examples that were developed by different companies and (probably) were designed to be attractive ways of storytelling . There is a sense in which design fiction can be viewed simply as prediction: an attempt to square fact with fiction. Designers strive to create a vision so good, the future moves to imitate the art. As Bleecker points out, “Minority Report interface” is now a watchword for computer interaction designers. The challenge for design fiction becomes whether or not one’s insight is good enough that one’s creativity can become reality. To deploy a less futuristic metaphor: everyone wants to back the winning horse.
One predicts the winner of a race by having the best method for judging the competitors. Or, in the case of technology, by understanding it well enough that you can see what will eventually take shape, and what will be thrown in the dustbin: the ray guns and jetpacks of the past. By seeing the starting line clear enough, one can envision the finish line.></div>
Technology corporations, therefore, pride themselves in their own design fictions, attempting to present a case in which their technology takes center stage in the future. Apple created the concept video for their “Knowledge Navigator” tablet in 1987, which, while dated in aesthetic, successfully predicted the company’s role in the development of tablet computers decades later. More recently, Corning, the company that developed the screen glass that enabled Apple’s phones and tablets, produced their own video called “A Day Made of Glass”, showing a future wherein their tech becomes even more fundamental to daily life than it already is.
It all seems to be far away from our real lives, or mainly what our real lives may look like in the future. Well, just suppose that most of the companies are taking design fiction very seriously and can take into account the following principles:
– To make daily life strange to step back, more than create spectacular scenarios
– To create some credibility, a surprise that breaks the possible resistance and opens projections to understand reality
– Use imagination in two ways, interdependent from each other. To fight the dominant beliefs that are imposed by the society and the way we should see the future and definitely a way to think different and create our own pool of ideas and divergences to innovate by ourselves
The objective is to make design fiction a real innovation tool, that generates action beyond criticism. And explore many possibilities and alternatives to open up options. Then, we can really understand the design fiction as a creative practice and not a simple fantasy, real predictions for the future. It uses the foundations of the past on which you can play to invent what’s coming next.