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Design Fiction

Create a design fiction that demonstrates a new technology being used in a future situation where you are purposely trying to provoke thought about a social problem or situation by exposing people to your new technology. Follow good attributes of a design fiction (as talked about in lecture). This project should be done as an individual.

Topic of Focus Your goal is to create a speculative design - some type of technology in the future. You can choose your focus and what type of technology you want to create in your design fiction. But, you should focus on a really interesting social issue. My suggestion is to start with a social issue or problem facing society and then create a technology that can showcase that problem, make people more aware of it, and provoke thought around the issue. Start with the social issue first, then design around it.

Actors in Your Video You will need to shoot some video of people doing the activity as you create your design fiction - grab some friends or family! Or, work out a deal with some other people in the class that you will act in their video if they act in yours. The final deliverables have to be created by you, but other students can participate in the design fiction videos.

Video Recording Equipment The library has high quality video recording devices and tripods that you can sign out. I have also seen some pretty amazing videos shot just with a smartphone using HD video.


Video Design Fictions

Create a design fiction using video. I am much less concerned with the technical quality of your video; the focus should be on the concept of design fictions and how well you adhere to the principles of them. I expect to see a video similar in style to Corner Convenience or Sight - these are two examples talked about in class. Though obviously the expectations on technical quality will not be as high as a video like Sight.

  1. Come up with a design concept that follows principles of design fiction (near future but try for at least 4 years into the future, combine science fiction and science fact, etc). It must also match the topic focus above.
  2. Create a video of less than 90 seconds (you are not allowed to go over this time limit) that introduces the design and documents a scenario where people are using it. Show a futuristic culture that engages with your design. You should show how this culture is different than present day. Think about people, culture, and society at this point in time and how the technology will be used by them and how it will affect them in both a positive and negative way.

Your design fictions should also adhere to the properties that make high quality design fictions as taught in class.

Some people are likely going to panic and say, "I don't know how to make a video!" Now's your chance to learn! There are plenty of video-making tutorials available online and most software tools are pretty easy to use nowadays. That said, I care less about how professional your video looks (and what special effects you include, if any) and more about how you apply the concepts of design fictions to your project.

Also, given the number of credits needed to get in to this class and the core of lower division courses that SIAT students take, it is likely that you should have taken at least some courses that required video creation. If not, my expectation is that at the fourth year level of university, you should be able to quickly and easily pick up skills.


Design Fiction Essay

Individually, you will submit a one page document (single spaced) that describes the design fiction you have created. This must be done in each individual's own words.

For each design fiction, you should describe:

  1. how people use the design
  2. the rationale behind your design
  3. how the project represents a design fiction - describe why how it is both science fact and science fiction and include citations to sources that justify these aspects
  4. the specific problem you are trying to address
  5. how you think people would react to the concept
  6. what the world will be like at this point in time (what is the culture of the future settings)

What to Submit

You will submit your video and your report before the beginning of class on the design fiction presentation day.

  1. Put the URL for the video at the BOTTOM OF YOUR DOCUMENT and bring your document to studio lab.
  2. Send an email your instructor and TA. Attach your document to it and include the URL to your video within the body of the email. The subject line must be "Your Name, IAT 431 Design Fiction".

You will be evaluated on the completeness of your ideas and document, the quality of your speculations about future technology usage, and the quality of your writing and video.

The assignment is worth up to 2000 XP. A grading sheet is here.