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Posts in category 'Scenarios'

2 November 2013

Publication: Smart Citizens (by FutureEverything)

futureeverything

Smart Citizens
Edited by Drew Hemment and Anthony Townsend
Future Everything
2013, 96 pages

This publication aims to shift the debate on the future of cities towards the central place of citizens, and of decentralised, open urban infrastructures. It provides a global perspective on how cities can create the policies, structures and tools to engender a more innovative and participatory society. The publication contains a series of 23 short essays representing some of the key voices developing an emerging discourse around Smart Citizens.

Contributors include:

  • Dan Hill, Smart Citizens pioneer and CEO of communications research centre and transdisciplinary studio Fabrica on why Smart Citizens Make Smart Cities.
  • Anthony Townsend, urban planner, forecaster and author of Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia on the tensions between place-making and city-making on the role of mobile technologies in changing the way that people interact with their surroundings.
  • Paul Maltby, Director of the Government Innovation Group and of the Open Data and Transparency in the UK Cabinet Office on how government can support a smarter society.
  • Aditya Dev Sood, Founder and CEO of the Center for Knowledge Societies, presents polarised hypothetical futures for India in 2025 that argues for the use of technology to bridge gaps in social inequality.
  • Adam Greenfield, New York City-based writer and urbanist, on Recuperating the Smart City.

FutureEverything is an art and digital innovation organization based in Manchester, England, founded in 1995 around an annual festival of art, music and digital culture. The organization runs year-round digital innovation labs on themes such as open data, remote collaboration, urban interface and environmental mass observation. FutureEverything presents an international art and innovation award, The FutureEverything Award, introduced in 2010.

25 October 2013

Sustainable living and behavioral change

A bedroom with a light on

Below a selection of pieces from The Guardian’s sustainable living hub:

The power of behavioural design: looking beyond nudging
Christoph Burmester – 10 September 2013
Beyond nudging lies the world of applied behavioural science or, alternatively, the domain of behavioural design. Combining behavioural science with sustainable design could be a powerful game changer in shifting consumer behaviour.

Beyond farmers markets: can food entrepreneurs boost buying local?
Sarah Shemkus – 11 September 2013
Startups and nonprofits are working to better connect smaller farms with consumers – beyond the farmers market – to give local produce a boost.

Do businesses care about sustainable behaviour change?
John Drummond – 18 September 2013
New survey shows majority of businesses are taking behaviour change seriously but there are still misaligned priorities and a lack of top level engagement.

Prosperity with less: what would a responsible economy look like?
Yvon Chouinard – 4 October 2013
The founder of Patagonia Inc discusses the value of the simple life, and growing an economy based on buying less, not more.

Using innovation to shift behavior from consumption to conservation
Anna M. Clark – 14 October 2013
Brands have the potential to generate consumer movements that could progress sustainable living. But are they using their power and can they really turn consumers into collaborators?

22 October 2013

Book: Status Update by Alice E. Marwick

statusupdate

Last year, I posted about the very interesting PhD dissertation by Alice E. Marwick (downloadable here). Based on ethnographic research of the San Francisco technology scene, she explains how social media’s technologies are based on status-seeking techniques that encourage people to apply free-market principles to the organization of social life. She has now rewritten the material – and added new interviews, new material and an extra chapter – for a book that was just published:

Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age
by Alice E. Marwick
Yale University Press
2013, 368 pages
[Amazon link]

Social media technologies such as YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook promised a new participatory online culture. Yet, technology insider Alice Marwick contends in this insightful book, “Web 2.0” only encouraged a preoccupation with status and attention. Her original research—which includes conversations with entrepreneurs, Internet celebrities, and Silicon Valley journalists—explores the culture and ideology of San Francisco’s tech community in the period between the dot com boom and the App store, when the city was the world’s center of social media development. Marwick argues that early revolutionary goals have failed to materialize: while many continue to view social media as democratic, these technologies instead turn users into marketers and self-promoters, and leave technology companies poised to violate privacy and to prioritize profits over participation. Marwick analyzes status-building techniques—such as self-branding, micro-celebrity, and life-streaming—to show that Web 2.0 did not provide a cultural revolution, but only furthered inequality and reinforced traditional social stratification, demarcated by race, class, and gender.

Alice E. Marwick is assistant professor, communication and media studies, Fordham University, and an academic affiliate at the Center on Law and Information Policy, Fordham Law School. Previously a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft Research, she regularly speaks to the press on various social media topics and has written for the New York Times, the Daily Beast, and the Guardian. She lives in New York City.

20 August 2013

Does big data have us ‘fooled by randomness’?

ap-good-times-in-silicon-valley

Being surrounded by data makes it easy to see the noise rather than the signal, and the trees rather than the forest, writes Andre Mouton in USA Today.

“Nassim Nicholas Taleb achieved notoriety with several books written before the housing crisis, criticizing the financial industry for putting so much faith in its predictions. He argued in Fooled by Randomness that there are problems with our attempts to understand the past, and even larger issues when we use it to predict the future. Those criticisms turned out to be justified.

“Big data” is allowing more industries to try their hand at fortunetelling. With social media and portable devices, we can watch society just like traders watch the stock market. People can be measured, quantified, modeled. As we enter this brave new world, it’s worth considering some of Taleb’s points and seeing how they might apply to big data.”

He concludes: “If businesses and governments see [big data] as a tool for self-measurement, they’ll find it useful. If they see it as a way to “crack the code,” or quantify human nature, or predict the unpredictable, they’re probably fooling themselves.”

17 August 2013

What’s lost when everything is recorded

17bits-memory-tmagArticle

Who wouldn’t delight in hearing Lincoln at Gettysburg in the same way we can go back and witness President Obama on the campaign trail? But with so much data capture and storage, which is preferable for our hearts and minds, the theater of politics or deference to the algorithm? Quentin Hardy, the deputy tech editor of the New York Times explores the matter on the newspaper’s Bits blog.

“While we fret about losing privacy and other dangers of the digital revolution, one sad change is happening with little notice: Our technology is stealing the romance of old conversations, that quaint notion that some things are best forgotten.

Remember the get-to-know-me chat of a first date or that final (good or bad) conversation with someone you knew for years? Chances are, as time has passed, your memory of those moments has changed. Did you nervously twitch and inarticulately explain your love when you asked your spouse to marry you? Or, as you recall it, did you gracefully ask for her hand, as charming as Cary Grant?

Thanks to our near-endless access to digital recording devices, the less-than-Hollywood version of you will be immortalized on the home computer, or stored for generations in some digital computing cloud.” [...]

“That quintessential American trait, self-reinvention, may well be threatened in the hard world of video and audio documentations and the chase of objective truth.”

6 July 2013

Cities are being redrawn according to Google’s world view

dezeen_Sam-Jacob-opinion-design-for-tech-companies1

In the second of two columns exploring the impact of digital culture on design, Sam Jacob looks at how Google Maps is reshaping cities while Apple, Facebook and Amazon are reshaping the natural landscape by building their own headquarters as self-contained ecosystems.

“Over the last year or so, many of the key digital behemoths have unveiled plans for new headquarters: the grand edifices that they choose to erect for themselves. These are the physical ecosystems inhabited by our digital ecosystems, and in these habitats we can read technology companies’ own ambitions and their own self images, and perhaps glimpse something of the distortions that digital culture brings to the world around us. [...]

In designs for both the Apple and Facebook headquarters, the idea of nature is at once highly present and highly synthetic. It’s a level constructed above vast parking garages, quoted as experience and presented as mission statement. In both, there are echoes of the hippy pastoral techno-utopias of the 1960s, washed together with management theory and marketing. These are ideologies made glass and grass. [...]

Proximity and loss of hierarchy are, in this headquarters, core issues. These reflect both the nature of digital work culture and the nature of the digital too. The absence of distance and constant adjacency is at once both the liberation that digital culture brings and the springboard for loss of liberty that Prism suggests. In architectural terms, we might understand this problem in terms of openness: the open plan and the curtain wall are simultaneously things that give us spatial transparency and a condition of panoptic surveillance.”

(If this topic fascinates you, also check out this fascinating piece by George Packer in the New Yorker on how Silicon Valley is transferring its slogans — and its money — to the realm of politics.)

6 July 2013

Prism is the dark side of design thinking

dezeen_Sam-Jacob-Opinion-digital-culture-and-design

In this first of two columns about the impact of digital culture on design, Sam Jacob asks what America’s Prism surveillance program tells us about design thinking.

“Prism tells us something about design in the twenty-first century. [...] It tells us that design is increasingly about systems, increasingly about processes and the way these interface with the real world.

Prism is part, I would suggest, of the realm of design thinking. This is a problem-solving methodology born out of similarly strange bedfellows as The Californian Ideology. In this case it’s art school creativity hijacked by management theory. Design thinking suggests the synthetic way in which designers are (supposed to be) thinking can be applied to almost any subject. Its power is its ability to transform anything into a design problem: the way organisations work, profitability, market share, information, the gathering and processing of intelligence and, it seems, national security.”

6 June 2013

Technology puts power in the hands of the Millennial Generation

millennial

This week the Financial Times has run two reports on the Millennial Generation.

Part Two (pdf) came out today, whereas Part One is from June 3.

Part Two’s leading article is definitely worth exploring, particularly in how it connects technology and mobile devices with empowerment of a new generation:

“Technology has played a huge role in how they’re different from the ­generation that came before them,” says Jean Case, chief executive of the Case Foundation, which she and her husband Steve Case, AOL’s co-founder, created in 1997.

This generation sees technology as levelling the playing field. In the FT-Telefónica Global Millennials Survey of 18 to 30-year olds almost 70 per cent of respondents said “technology creates more opportunities for all” as opposed to “a select few”.

This belief has brought tremendous confidence to the world’s first generation of digital natives, despite facing the worst economic outlook since the great depression.”

More background also in this article.

4 June 2013

Without opt in, Google Glass will generate hostility

googleglass

Google and friends should not be trying to make these things acceptable in polite society,” writes Roger Kay in Forbes. “If they persist, they can expect a wave of hostility the likes of which they have perhaps only begun to imagine.”

“People can’t opt in to public surveillance, and we live in a more dangerous world now, where surveillance mostly works in our favor. But even in public places, Google Glass wearers with the ability to do tactical research on others, using facial recognition technology, Google Search, social media, and other tools, will create a creepoid ethos and generate a tremendous amount of hostility.

Silicon Valley may not see things this way, but the Valley is a bubble all to itself. In the wider world, people want the right to opt in to something as invasive as surveillance by Glass.”

1 May 2013

London exhibition explores alternative Britain governed by four extreme lifestyle tribes

web-map

Belching cars made of skin and bones, nuclear-powered trains in the shape of mountains and arrow-like formations of joined recumbent bicycles are just some of the ways we might travel around the country in the future, according to designers Dunne and Raby, whose new exhibition at London’s Design Museum opens this week.

United Micro Kingdoms: A Design Fiction imagines an alternative version of England governed by four extreme lifestyle tribes, with disturbing echoes of our own society – and where we might be heading.

The designers have devolved the country into four new counties, each conceived as an experimental zone with its own form of governance, economy and lifestyle. Might you be a Digitarian, driven by a blind faith in technology to join a world where tagging, tracking and total surveillance reign supreme? Or would you rather hang out with the Bioliberals in the rural southwest, producing your own energy, growing your own products and driving a farting biogas vehicle?

Read review in The Guardian

16 January 2013

Helsinki Design Lab closing in June 2013

hdl

Marco Steinberg, who directs the strategic design efforts of the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, announced last week that Sitra’s Helsinki Design Lab will close in June 2013.

Helsinki Design Lab is an initiative by Sitra to advance strategic design as a way to re-examine, re-think, and re-design the systems we’ve inherited from the past.

According to Steinberg, “design at Sitra is shifting from a strategic to a service role. The current members of the design team (Bryan Boyer, Justin Cook, and myself*) are committed to strategic design and will therefore pursue this interest beyond Sitra. In the spring Sitra will hire for a new role to grow service design within the organization.”

[* The fourth member of the team, Dan Hill, left earlier, and is now the CEO of Fabrica in Treviso, Italy.]

During the next five months Brian, Justin and Marco will be converting the site into an archive of the most recent phase of HDL. The archive will be legible, free, and open, they write, so that the “work and experience of Helsinki Design Lab be useful not just for the next phase of design at Sitra, but for the community as well.”

The team is now compiling the case study research from Helsinki Design Lab 2012 into a forthcoming publication on stewardship, with a tentative publication date of May 2013. This completes the existing publication “Recipes for Systemic Change,” which you can download for free.

We can also expect a public event in Helsinki on June 10th, 2013.

Over the last years, Experientia has worked intensively – and to our great satisfaction – with Sitra and with the team of the Helsinki Design Lab in particular, through our involvement on the Low2No project. We wish Sitra and the HDL team the very best in the coming months and afterwards, and we are sure that we will find many ways to collaborate in the future.

(For more reflection on the closing, check also this post by Bryan Boyer).

13 January 2013

How a simple smartphone can turn your car, home, or medical device into a deadly weapon

murder-weapon

The day is not far off when the manipulation of medical devices will be done routinely by punching keys on a smartphone, writes Charles C. Mann in Vanity Fair, putting an individual’s internal organs in the hands of every hacker, online scammer, and digital vandal on Earth.

“[Increasingly,] a smartphone links patients’ bodies and doctors’ computers, which in turn are connected to the Internet, which in turn is connected to any smartphone anywhere. The new devices could put the management of an individual’s internal organs, in the hands of every hacker, online scammer, and digital vandal on Earth.” [...]

“Medical devices represent only one early and obvious target of opportunity. Major power and telephone grids have long been controlled by computer networks, but now similar systems are embedded in such mundane objects as electric meters, alarm clocks, home refrigerators and thermostats, video cameras, bathroom scales, and Christmas-tree lights—all of which are, or soon will be, accessible remotely. Every automobile on the market today has scores of built-in computers, many of which can be accessed from outside the vehicle. Not only are new homes connected to the Internet but their appliances are too.”

18 October 2012

Transforming Bodies & Lifestyles: Insights into Inspiring Behavior Change

iftf_bodies

Transforming Bodies & Lifestyles: Insights into Inspiring Behavior Change
Institute For The Future
2012

Inspiring people to change their behaviors in order to become healthier remains one of the most intractable challenges. But it also remains one of the most significant. Fifty-percent of all deaths each year are the result of potentially preventable chronic diseases such as heart disease—costing hundreds of billions of dollars annually. To address these and other challenges, behavior change efforts will be central to shaping the future of health and health care.

This environmental scan, Transforming Bodies and Lifestyles: Insights into Inspiring Behavior Change, identifies key strategies that stakeholders throughout the global health economy can use to help people make lasting changes that promote long-term health. It takes a broad look at emerging theories of motivation to identify key insights in the form of opportunities to intervene to change unhealthy behaviors and enable people to build capacities to create health and well-being in their own lives. It also identifies critical emerging technologies that will shape our everyday health experiences. Combining insights from the social sciences and technology creates new opportunities to deliver more persuasive, personalized, and meaningful messages to promote healthier behaviors.

Expert interviewees:
Mary Jane Osmick, MD, Medical Director, American Specialty Health Network
Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, Health Economist, THINK-Health
Chris Bettinger, Sociologist
Derek Newell, Managing Director, HT3
William Polonsky, CEO, Behavioral Diabetes Institute
Steph Habif, Behavior Designer
Jeremy Bailenson, Founding Director, Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab and an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, Stanford University
Kevin Clark, President and Founder, Content Evolution LLC
Mathias Crawford, Natron Baxter
Andy Donner, Director, Physic Ventures
Esther Dyson, EDventure Holdings
James Fowler, Professor of Medical Genetics and Political Science at the University of California, San Diego
Judy Hibbard, Health Policy Professor, University of Oregon
Michael Kim, CEO/Founder, Kairos Labs
Brad Kimler, Executive Vice President, Benefits Consulting Fidelity Employer Services
Kelly McGonigal, Health Psychologist, Stanford University
Paul Sas, Senior Manager, Director of Research, E*TRADE FINANCIAL
Sue Siegel, Partner, Mohr Davidow Ventures
Lisa Suennen, Co-founder and Managing Member, Psilos Group

16 October 2012

Brave New City

cover_1012_t185

Metropolis Magazine asked seven visionary design teams, both established and up-and-coming, what they predict a fully accessible city might look like (and better yet, how it would function).

“We broke the city into its component parts and then, like casting directors, asked, “Who would we like to tackle this one?” The eager and inspired responses from our dream team thrilled us.”

“What follows are imaginative, practical, funny, high-tech/low-tech, humanistic design solutions that make room for everyone and, in the process, invent new ways of making cities.”

Getting Around: Transit Hub
by Grimshaw Architects
Grimshaw Architects, which designed the award-winning Southern Cross Station in Melbourne, Australia, believes that a seamless transportation network is the key to our future. Grimshaw designed a hub that adapts to the evolving city and provides all people, whatever their needs, with a way to get around town.

Picking Up the Groceries: Public Market
by West 8
Farmers’ markets in parking lots aren’t the only solution to sustainable commerce. In 1995, the urban design and landscape architecture firm West 8 reinvented Binnenrotte Square in Rotterdam, closing it off to traffic and letting the locals take over. The firm used that experience to create our inclusive marketplace.

Sharing Resources: Community Center
by Interboro Partners
Interboro Partners has been compiling The Arsenal of Exclusion
& Inclusion (www.arsenalofexclusion.blogspot.com), to look at how cities admit or exclude people. The firm’s ideas for the community center in our new city draw upon the book, which will be published by Actar later this year.

Taking a Walk: Streetscape
by Linearscape
Linearscape have made it their mission to understand the built environment’s relationship to landscape, so they take an integrative approach to streets, applying existing technologies and reconfiguring the sidewalk for people of all ages and abilities. Linearscape’s won the 2012 Emerging New York Architects competition for imagining a future urban landscape.

Finding Your Way: Urban Navigation
by OPEN
OPEN believes in continuously reinventing itself. Yet it doesn’t always look to the future; sometimes the old way of doing things is the best. Its way finding system for our new city isn’t technological. OPEN suggests that people who are lost in the city do something unusual—ask someone for directions.

Living Together: Multi-Generational Home
by John Ronan Architects
John Ronan Architects is concerned with how a design takes into account building performance over time. So for our new city, the firm “interviewed” a 120-year-old great-grandmother in the year 2120. John Ronan Architects won a 2012 AIA Institute National Honor Award for their design of the Poetry Foundation in Chicago.

Working Virtually: Workspace
by LUNAR
The key to good design is knowing what people need. This is what the product design firm LUNAR focused on when considering how people in our new city would work. Addressing the growing number of virtual offices, the firm created products to encourage natural interactions even when people aren’t physically together.

17 April 2012

Wearable devices: the next battleground for the platform wars

bits-wearablereport-tmagArticle

Wearable devices, or “wearables” for short, have enormous potential for uses in health and fitness, navigation, social networking, commerce, and media.

In a new report out today, Forrester argues that wearables will move mainstream once they get serious investment from the “big five” platforms — Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook — and their developer communities.

A blog post by the research company lists the key take-aways.

> More reflections by The New York Times | TechCrunch

Meanwhile, interaction-design.org has published an extensive chapter on wearable computing, in collaboration with Steven Mann, a tenured professor at the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto.

21 March 2012

Futurescapes – imagining what the world will look like in 2025

futurescapes_logo

FutureScapes, an open collaboration project by Sony and Forum for the Future, aims to bring together a range of expert thinkers, designers, futurologists, writers (including those from The Economist’s Intelligence Unit and Wired Magazine) and you – the public – to explore the opportunities and challenges of life in 2025, and to consider the potential contribution that technology and entertainment can make in shaping a better, more sustainable future.

“FutureScapes is all about imagining what the world of 2025 will look like and the role technology could play in our lives.

To inspire you and provide a starting point for your thoughts we’ve come up with four different scenarios of the world we may be confronted with in 2025. These aren’t predictions of the future, but are intended to help us visualise the possibilities for our future and think about how we might plan for those possibilities now.

The written scenarios are a result of an open and collaborative process involving people across Sony and Forum for the Future, as well as leading futurologists and experts from a range of fields.

Watch videos
Download report

(via Bruce Sterling)

29 February 2012

Connected homes for connected people

habitantsconnectes

The French think tank Fing (who was also behind the LIFT France event last year) collaborated last year with VIA, Promotelec, Renault Group, La Poste, Minatec Laboratory (CEA), CNR Santé, ESIR Engineering school on a research project called “Connected homes for connected people” (Habitants Connectés) and have now posted key materials of the project including the presentation (in French) and five (English subtitled) video scenarios.

“How do digital technologies change ways of living and the housing ? Do they cause new problems ? Which new opportunities ? How can the resident be autonomous at home, and create new services, himself ? Here are some questions the “Connected homes for connected people” program has worked on…

More deeply than home automation, digital technologies have invaded homes through mobile phones, personal computers, boxes, TV, game consoles, etc. ”Smart home”, imagined more than 20 years ago, proves to be primarily a communicational and relational home, continuously crossed by various flows. Residents try to manage, control or even shut down these flows. Digital technologies have sustainably transformed our ways of living and housing. Objects, furniture and devices in the house, have gained through digital, new affordances. As a result, new perspectives of uses and living come for the inhabitants. Operators and providers can deliver new services. But there are also new annoyances, discomforts, problems for which improvements and solutions have to be found.

The subject of “Connected homes for connected people” has been explored, through 4 themes, 4 “innovation territories “. 17 “innovation paths” have been developed, suggesting new infrastructures, services, objects and forms of mediation ; 5 videos have been produced to develop them.”

In January, 2012, Fing organized a workshop at Google Zürich, also untitled “Connected Home for Connected People”. This one-day workshop, gathered about twenty people, including Fabio Carnevale Maffé of Experientia.

It enabled them to work on 4 “innovation paths” selected from the 17 paths of “Digital Residents” program. Participants developed three ideas of project : “Tack-tiles”, “Bread Assistant” and “Social scales”.

An English language presentation of the workshop is now also available.

1 December 2011

Another Life Is Possible – Homage to Catalonia II

Homage to Catalonia II
“Homage to Catalonia II” is a documentary, a research project, a story of stories about the construction of a sustainable, solidary and decentralized economy.

The video, which is a project of Joana Conill, Manuel Castells and Àlex Ruiz of IN 3, the High School Institute of Research of the University Open to Catalonia, investigates new economic cultures, new forms of living and of understanding the economy. For the .

In particular, it studies the social impact of the economics|economies that do not follow the patterns of the market, where profits are the priority, and that have the satisfaction of the needs and the desires for the persons as a goal.

The video is a tool for research, not a finished or closed work, and is available for free under a Creative Commons license. This is the English version, there are also versions in Catalan and Spanish.

Watch video (Youtube)
Watch video (blip.tv)

28 October 2011

Why Microsoft’s vision of the future is dead on arrival

PLoS ONE
A viral clip produced by Microsoft is–like almost every video on this subject–amazingly polished. It’s also inane and completely lifeless, says FastCo Design.

“Futuristic interfaces are supposed to solve problems and make life easier. What good are they–besides being eye candy–if the future around them is picture-perfect already? The Microsoft video takes that conceit of perfection and carries it so far that the concepts begin to look ridiculous: You can pick out all kinds of clever touches, such as the way the images on a computer screen can be dragged off screen to become holograms–and then can be controlled with gestures. But by that point, we’re way off in future land, where none of these clever touches feel rooted in life. They don’t address problems we understand.”

Read article

28 October 2011

BlackBerry Future Visions

BlackBerry future handset
Research in Motion seems to have commissioned a pair of videos envisioning portable technology in the not-so-distant future, writes PocketNow: specifically, they focus on interactions among employees, or between employees and customers, and how portable devices play a role in their day-to-day lives.

Chris Velazco on TechCrunch calls it “a refined extension of what we already have as opposed to a wild vision of what we could have.”

Watch videos (alternate link)