What happened in the planetary event of the Near Future Education Lab: the challenge of the Future of Education has started

Some days have passed since the Education is a Commons event, and a summary is needed to be able to have an overview of the scenario which is opening up before our eyes, and about the single most important fact which emerged fro the whole event: Now is the Time to start re-thinking the education system!

First of all: participation. People from 5 continents joined in for an entire week of discussion, representing individuals, organizations, universities, companies, associations, activist groups and, obviously, education hackers from all over the planet.

the final hangout:

Here are some useful links:

the opening hangout:

The most discussed topics:

  • The education ecosystem: what is it? How does it emerge and manifest itself? How accessible and inclusive is it in its current form? What organizational models, if any, can be adopted to make it more accessible, inclusive and readable/usable?
  • Koinoo, K-Coins, badges and more: a mutualistic currency for the education ecosystem. Reputation capital. Transformation of the current definition of value to a p2p, ecosystemic, well-being oriented one, based on networked trust, participation, mutuality. Understanding the ecosystem and the networks through the currency. A new role for credentials.
  • Knowledge Commons, recipes, knowledge and meta-knowledge. Transforming Education into a protocol, like the Internet: an accessible, p2p, network-of-networks. Hypotheses for implementation. A new p2p layer of the Internet protocol stack.
  • Ubiquitous Education. Ubiquity through time and space (connect experiences, places and situations for knowledge anytime, anywhere). Ubiquity through contexts (each place is a potential space/time for learning/teaching/knowledge, through the commons and ubiquitous tech). Ubiquity through roles (each one can be teacher, student, researcher, entrepreneur… depending on the context). What about Divides (technological, cultural, age, gender…)?
  • the Open Foundation: the role of the open foundation to host, preserve and promote the Knowledge Commons, the Ecosystem, and the value model, enacted through the currency, and as a shell to enact the Wirearchy through which the ecosystem will work.

More discussions are taking place as we speak, and we are starting up the implementation processes for the whole thing: so please join the Facebook Group of the Near Future Education Lab and participate to the discussions and activities, or get in touch with us anyway you can: we want to do it with you!

Below you can find more resources about the event and the overall process:

Some fundamental Facebook Posts in the discussion:

the 7 days of the Near Future of Education

It’s here!

After our initial exploration of the Near Future of Education, when the ISIA Design School in Florence faced the effects of the global crisis, after writing about our vision on newspapers, and performing collaborative efforts to understand the possibility for transformation of the current situation, it is here:

Michel Bauwens, Layne Hartsell, Anna Blume, Jon Husband, Salvatore Iaconesi, Oriana Persico, the Near Future Education Lab and many more will be joining in

the 7 days of the Near Future of Education, a global and networked event on the Near Future of the Education System. (from June 1st to June 7th, 2014)

A full week of open discussions on the Near Future of Education. Google hangouts, talks, information and exchange.

Opening discussion starts at on June 1st at 8:00 AM (EDT) – 2:00 PM (CEST) – 10:00 PM (KST).

To make sure to be present at the opening live discussion, follow the link that will be provided on this page two hours before the starting time:

https://www.facebook.com/events/225370707673974/

From Florence, Seoul, Quito, Göteborg, Hong Kong, Vancouver and multiple other parts of the world.

Brought up with the help of Living Bridges Planet, and with the participation of the P2P Foundation, CS Cantiere 2.0, Fake University, The Hub Roma, Art is Open Source and ISIA Design Florence, we bring you:

Education is a Commons!

Event Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/225370707673974/

A full week of open discussions on the Near Future of Education.

Google hangouts, talks, information and exchange.

Education is a Commons

Education is a Commons

The first global and interconnected event organized by Near Future Education Lab in collaboration with the P2P Foundation and an incredible network of partners and supporters, globally.

Near Future Education Lab is a group of researchers, teachers, students, associations that want to change the future of Education.

Everything starts from this:

“The future does not exist, it’s a global conversation about what we want, what we fear, what we expect and the possibilities we can imagine.”

1. Crisis and transformation of the education system: the Near Future of Education in Florence. What happens during a crisis?

Transformation, as possibility?
Necessary change.

When faced with semi-bankruptcy originating from the financial cuts, and with the certainty of being thrown out from the buildings in which they reside, because of the lack of government funds to pay for the rent, the teachers and students at ISIA Florence started a protest. Flash mobs, social network campaigns, and city interventions were enacted to protest against the probable closure of the school.

Soon enough it was clear that this was only the latest of a never-ending series of states of emergency, and that dedicating all this effort towards resolving one problem, would not change anything for the future, that would still be characterised by a sequence of emergencies, one after the other.

2. A decision was made.

Starting from the Near Future Design course, and quickly spreading to the whole school, we decided to reinvent our reality with the most our powerful tool: Design. We started building the Near Future Design of Education, to push a bit further people’s perception of what is possible, and using this shift to enact a performance, in which the design actually comes to life.

3. The constituent phase

The students are now in a constituent phase, in which they will unite into a foundation, organised using Wirearchy models. (Jon Husband) This new organism will enact the design, by changing the rules of the game. Stepping away from protest mode, and moving into the making mode by changing roles: from subjects begging their rulers to receive hearings and a few coins to survive, to partners, co-creators of the future of the education system.

We imagine a p2p, interconnected ecosystem where Knowledge is a Commons and everyone can share ideas, projects, and perform the near future of Education.

Join this 1 week conversation!

To make sure to be present at the opening live discussion, follow the link that will be provided on this page two hours before the starting time:

https://www.facebook.com/events/225370707673974/

EVENT SUPPORTED BY:

P2P Foundation, Art is Open Source, ISIA Firenze, Fake University, The Hub Roma, CS Cantiere/SMS/UniPop

LINKS:

For more information about the Lab and the idea of the education system we are developing, we invite to visit you this the page guested by P2P Foundation Wiki:

http://p2pfoundation.net/Near_Future_Education_Lab

 

Near Future Education Lab Blog:

http://nearfutureducationlab.nova100.ilsole24ore.com/

 

Near Future Education Lab FB Group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/NearFutureEducationLab/

Borges, Welles, Baudrillard, Ballard, Dick and Caronia: Creating Futures

After the Near Future Design workshop held at the Wired NextFest in Milan: 8 hours, 48 people, 5 Near Future Design concepts produced on the theme of Telepathy.

You can see some of the results in the Near Future Design Facebook Group, where you will also be able to get to know the people who joined us in the workshop and all the others, including our wonderful students from ISIA Design School in Florence, who have presented the first book about Near Future Design published in Italy.

Workshop Near Future Design

Workshop Near Future Design

We started off with an introduction about our vision about what is and can be Near Future Design, merging multiple practices and disciplines – across ethnography, technological studies, design fiction, transmedia storytelling and more – to

  1. gain better understanding of the current State of the Arts & Technologies and of the emerging Curious Rituals and Strange Now, recurring patterns of human behaviours which are happening, but for which we don’t yet have clear social codes and understandings
  2. unite these understandings to form a series of Future Maps, maps of possible futures which can show not only futures which are technically and technologically possible, but also in synch with the transformation of human beings, as described through the Curious Rituals and Strange Nows
  3. use the Future Maps to describe concepts for possible products, services, processes, interactions and practices which are likely to emerge in the near future
  4. design these products/services/processes/practices through Design Fiction, creating pre-totypes, early prototypes which not only include the prototypal implementation of these objects and services, but also of their diegetic character and characteristics, their being suggestive and scenographic, their ability to suggest the possible emergence of the practices and processes connected to their existence – be them positive, problematic, or in-between, across social, political and anthropological scenarios – and, as a consequence, to give shape new languages, codes and imaginaries which are able to transform our possibility to imagine and create new futures, opportunities and possibilities
  5. use the Design Fictions in a World Building process, using Transmedia Storytelling, to design the world in which these pre-totypes might come into existence, trying to give answers to questions like “what would be the world like, if this product/service/process/practice would actually exist?” and “what would be in this world?”, “how would human interactions, relations, knowledge and understanding of the world be transformed?”
  6. use the Transmedia Storytelling to create the product/service/process/practice’s manifestations in this possible future world, in cities, urban environments, online, offline, in advertising, human interactions and across a variety of different, coordinated media, to create an immersive experience, in which the design becomes a simulacrum, a state of suspended disbelief in which it is impossible (or, at least, difficult) to understand wether the object is fake or real, thus enabling people to actually being inclined to adopt the new languages, codes and imaginaries emerging from its (possible) existence, and use them to construct and express their own vision on the world, including this new possibility
  7. observe these resulting forms of human expression to gain better understandings of the reactions, to go beyond the idea of technically/technologically possible futures, and to understand the expression of desirable, preferable futures.
the Near Future Design process

the Near Future Design process

At the end of the workshop we joined Bruce Sterling in a discussion about the importance of performing such processes, and about the radical transformation and addition to the role of Design which they represent: you can find a description of the talk here, on Wired (in Italian).

During the talk, we selected a series of quotes from a series of writers, philosophers and movie directors, to highlight the social, political and philosophical implications of the creation of Near Future Designs, and on the possibility to create and use new codes, languages and imaginaries to build our world and futures, through expression, communication and performance.

Jorge Luis Borges

Jorge Luis Borges

“The people who write novels have to take the infinite reality and make it finite, give it an order. A novel has a beginning and an end: for this it is a finite world. The tale, instead, is the only infinite literary genre. A good tale is a story which does not have a beginning and end. To describe the infinite, you sketch a trace of it, which is also infinite. A tale is a trace of infinite.” – Jorge Luis Borges

We used Borges’ quote to describe the necessity to create open narratives, the importance of the need to avoid describing complete, prepared, pre-determined futures, to enable people’s possibility to create their own futures. The question “what comes next?” can be an opportunity for performance, for the creation of our own future, the way we desire and prefer it. Too often it is an act of passive consumption: someone telling you “this is the future”, and you adopting it.

The library of Babel

The library of Babel

The Library of Babel is an hallucinatory universe composed by a spatially infinite library made from hexagonal halls, which chaotically collects all of the possible books of 410 pages, in which are all the possible permutations and combinations of letters and numbers.

 

In the library, all the possible books of 410 pages are present. Therefore it is present the Book of Truth, all of its variants including its opposite, and human beings do not have any way to distinguish one from the other:

 

« Starting from this incontrovertible premises, he decided that the Library is total, and that its shelves record all the possible combinations of the 25 alphabetical signs, all that we can express, in all languages. Everything: the detailed story of the future, the autobiographies of the archangels, the truthful catalogue of the Library, thousands and thousands of false catalogues, the demonstration of the falsity of all these catalogues, the demonstration of the falsity of the true catalogue [...] the translation of each book in all languages, the interpolation of each book in all of the other ones. »
– Jorge Luis Borges

This piece from the Library of Babel was used to allude to the need for our active participation to the description of the future, among the infinite possible ones. While the futures are infinite, many do not make any sense, multiple are dangerous for us, or in opposition to our desires, expectations and ambitions, and so on. From all of them we can potentially learn something, develop new visions, imaginations, ideas, desires, languages and codes. We cal use all of these to create new realities, new codes, and to enact them in performance, with our daily lives.

Orson Welles

Orson Welles

Once, a friend of a friend showed Picasso a Picasso. “No, it is fake”, answered the painter. The same friend got hold of another presumed Picasso, and Picasso said that also this was a fake. The friend took another one, but this was fake as well, said Picasso. “But, Pablo”, said the friend, “I have seen you paint this with my own eyes.” “I can paint a fake Picasso just like anybody else”, replied Picasso.

– Orson Welles

This quote by Orson Welles points out the problematic aspect of deciding “what is real”. Reality is always an interpretation, originating from cultural, political, social and subjective elements. Reality is a code and a space, and multiple of them exist at the same time, built through language and practice (performance). By questioning reality we can enter a state of openness to possibility, in which we can perform reality, creating new ones, constructively (Picasso painting the fake Picasso).

Jean Baudrillard

Jean Baudrillard

Go and organize a fake hold up. Be sure to check that your weapons are harmless, and take the most trustworthy hostage, so that no life is in danger (otherwise you risk committing an offence). Demand ransom, and arrange it so that the operation creates the greatest commotion possible. In brief, stay close to the “truth”, so as to test the reaction of the apparatus to a perfect simulation. But you won’t succeed: the web of artificial signs will be inextricably mixed up with real elements (a police officer will really shoot on sight; a bank customer will faint and die of a heart attack; they will really turn the phoney ransom over to you). In brief, you will unwittingly find yourself immediately in the real, one of whose functions is precisely to devour every attempt at simulation, to reduce everything to some reality: that’s exactly how the established order is, well before institutions and justice come into play.

– Jean Baudrillard

This quote from Baudrillard describes the relation of “fake” and simulation with reality. “Fake” is not “not real”, it is another real, which interweaves itself with the consensual reality, creating new spaces of perception, cognition and imagination. It defines new possibles, new possible realities, which will be interpreted by human beings and by societies, who will react and perform accordingly. Fake is real.

J.G. Ballard

J.G. Ballard

Everything is becoming science fiction. From the margins of an almost invisible literature has sprung the intact reality of the 20th century.
– J.G. Ballard

This quote from J.G. Ballard explains the role of Science Fiction within our societies. Science Fiction as a probe, as an exploratory performance into possibility, into possible worlds, to open them up for discussion, expression, critique and enactment. A sensor for “the possible”. We believe that the same can be said for Art.

Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick

If you think this universe is bad, you should see the other ones.

– Philip K. Dick

This quote from Dick describes the possibility to take into account a plurality of different futures, and the critical aspects of this consideration, which opens up not only the opportunity of understanding, describing and designing (for) them, but also highlights the importance of embracing active modalities to describe our desired, preferred futures, and to enact them through the performance of our daily lives.

Antonio Caronia

Antonio Caronia

It is not a random fact that futurology is developing in an historical moment such as the present one, in which we are witnessing a radical mutation of our planet.
Wether we call it “post-industrial society”, “information society”, “technotronic age”, “superindustrial society” or “third wave”, the progressive emergence of a new reality is clear: the situation of the planet is changing, in the ways in which we work, in our lifestyles, in the social and political conflicts, in economy and love, in the institutions and in the codes of behaviour.
Understanding this mutation is essential to direct it, to deal with the emergencies and with the effective risks of catastrophe (environmental, social, economic) which will not address themselves. The work on the understanding and forecasting of the future seems essential to adequately confront with all of these issues. At the condition which this work does not generate a caste of super-technicians who assume for themselves the right to decide – alone or together with the bureaucracies which govern us – everyone’s destiny.
On the direction of this destiny the last word pertains to the people: there must be no doubt about this.
–Antonio Caronia

 

The presentation can be seen on Slideshare:

Wired NextFest and Near Future Design: 8 hours of workshop and the exploration of possible futures

Art is Open Source and ISIA Design Florence will be in Milan at Wired’s NextFest on May 17 for an immersive 8-hours workshop on Near Future Design, and for a performative conversation with Bruce Sterling on the opportunity of materialising possible futures right now, using Design Fiction.

It will also be the chance to launch the first book on Near Future Design published in Italy by our students at ISIA Design Florence, with an introduction by Bruce Sterling. (you can download the book here:  http://www.artisopensource.net/NFD-NextFest2014.pdf )

 

Near Future Design is a series of practices and methodologies through which we can explore possible futures in participatory ways, highlighting current transformations in human societies, in technologies and in their relations and mutual influences. Through this, we can create Future Maps which describe these possible futures, and use Design Fiction to implement pre-totypes, early prototypes built through actual objects and services, but also through the use of transmedia narratives: the manifestations of these objects and services of our possible future, across different, coordinated media, to make them credible and likely.

As we have highlighted multiple times, in the era of knowledge, information and communication, Near Future Design helps in the construction of the languages, visions and of the imaginaries which will enable us to actually create our futures, hence giving rise to our motto: “The Future does not exist! It’s a Performance!” A performance for all of us, to create our futures with every imaginative action in our daily lives, and for organisations, companies, governments and more, who wish to stimulate people into critically and collaboratively thinking about their preferable, desirable futures, and to actively participate in their construction.

The Workshop at Wired’s NextFest

On May 17th 2014, at 10am, at Wired’s NextFest, in the Aula Magna, Museo di Storia Naturale, (in the “Giardini Indro Montanelli” park, Corso Venezia, 55, Milano, near the Metro station “Palestro“) we will hold an immersive 8-hour workshop on Near Future Design.

We will choose a scenario, create a Future Map, and design our “New Normal”, the future scenario in which our future product/service/action/behaviour will be perceived as being normal, common. We will do it through Transmedia Storytelling: we will enact a coordinated, systematized strategy online, in the streets, on social networks, in shops and, in general, ubiquitously, across digital and physical media, which will make our Design Fiction come alive.

Here is the Workshop’s page on Wired: http://nextfest.wired.it/events/near-future-design-lab-designing-new-normal/

Here is the link to register to the workshop: http://www.smappo.com/event/536c87dc4a6fb_near-future-design-lab-designing-the-new-normal.html

The Talk

On May 17th 2014, at 7pm, at Wired’s NextFest, in the Red Dome, (in the “Giardini Indro Montanelli” park, Corso Venezia, 55, Milano, near the Metro station “Palestro“) we will hold a talk with Bruce SterlingJasmina Tešanović, Oriana Persico and Salvatore Iaconesi to engage in a performative conversation on Near Future Design and Design Fiction: imagining the objects (and societies) of the future(s).

Learn more about the Talk on Near Future Design here: http://nextfest.wired.it/events/near-future-design-immaginare-gli-oggetti-e-la-societa-del-futuro/

 

The Book

During the talk we will also introduce the first book on Near Future Design published in Italy, with ISIA Design in Florence, featuring the incredible Near Future Designs by our 2013 students.

Learn more about the projects here: Near Future Design at ISIA Florence

Download the Book here: http://www.artisopensource.net/NFD-NextFest2014.pdf

The book is also distributed via QRCode on the May 2014 edition of Wired Italy, in the article below:

Near Future Design on Wired

Near Future Design on Wired

Transmedia Design

Fake and real. Simulacra and simulation.

Go and organize a fake hold up. Be sure to check that your weapons are harmless, and take the most trustworthy hostage, so that no life is in danger (otherwise you risk committing an offence). Demand ransom, and arrange it so that the operation creates the greatest commotion possible. In brief, stay close to the “truth”, so as to test the reaction of the apparatus to a perfect simulation. But you won’t succeed: the web of art)ficial signs will be inextricably mixed up with real elements (a police officer will really shoot on sight; a bank customer will faint and die of a heart attack; they will really turn the phoney ransom over to you). In brief, you will unwittingly find yourself immediately in the real, one of whose functions is precisely to devour every attempt at simulation, to reduce everything to some reality: that’s exactly how the established order is, well before institutions and justice come into play.

This quote from Baudrillard’sSimulacra and Simulation” allows us to understand very precisely simulation’s role in human society and perception.

In the media environment in which we are constantly immersed, people constantly interpret what they experience using signs, signals and clues which are real, fake, simulated, relevant, unrelated…

Going back to Baudrillard:

Thus all hold ups, hijacks and the like are now as it were simulation hold ups, in the sense that they are inscribed in advance in the decoding and orchestration rituals of the media, anticipated in their mode of presentation and possible consequences.

This observation describes what is called Hyperrealism. “More than real “. More than real because, to an extent, the “real” depends from what media show about it, from how they show it.

If I think of a holdup: although I have never really experienced one, I know how it goes, how it unfolds, how it develops. Because I have already seen it, millions of times, in movies, television, youtube videos, images. I know what to expect, what happens.

a Bank Robbery

a Bank Robbery

If I close my eyes, and think “bank robbery”, I will see images, hear sounds, imagine emotions, fears, excitement, the adrenaline rushes of all the participants involved: the bank robber, the police man, the hostage, the clerk.

I don’t need to actually be in a bank hold up because, through media of multiple types, I have been there a million times.

In our contemporary world, things become even more complex.

Invisible cities, by Christian Marc Schmidt and Liangjie Xia

Invisible cities, by Christian Marc Schmidt and Liangjie Xia

In each instant, we are constantly immersed in a multitude of flows of information and communication: the things we see, the signs and signals, the displays which we’re surrounded from, the advertisements, the things we see with the corners of our field of vision, people, their gestures, dress-codes and the ways in which we interpret them, sounds. And our smartphones.

Think about arriving in a city for the first time. You’ve never been there before. Do it.

which city is this

which city is this?

Only a few years ago, when this happened, you really did not know much about the city: maybe you had a couple of addresses (of your hotel and a restaurant which a friend advised you to visit), you could have seen a couple of postcards or pictures, you could have read a guide… not much.

Now, everything has changed.

When you arrive in a city for the first time in your life, you have already seen it: on Google Maps, or even Streetview. You have seen pictures, read reviews, gathered opinions and experiences on TripAdvisor, asked around on Facebook, and maybe even found a few friends to meet there. You might even be couch surfing in someone’s home. Maybe you already know that a certain neighbourhood in the city is dangerous, or interesting, or full of artists, or stores.

Let’s push it: maybe you went to that city because of something you read/saw online, in the first place. Something online made you change our behaviour, or take a certain decision. If you had read something different, maybe you would have gone to a different city.

Again: you could imagine that city, have feelings for it, even without having actually been there. Simulated. And, thus, real.

That city, thus, is not only made from buildings, streets, shops, squares, houses, parks and other physical objects.

It is built from a variety of different media. Some of them very physical, like concrete, wood, glass, asphalt. Some of them immaterial, like digital information, images, videos, text, emotions, experiences, data.

All these meda entangle with each other and with our perception, forming the way in which we perceive reality.

augmented city

augmented city

The landscape is now composed by trees, buildings and digital information.

We can use the “traditional” senses to perceive all of them: sight, hearing, tactility, smell, taste.

Other, new, senses add up to the “traditional” ones, or modified senses, which we learned to use in more recent times. We do not have 5 (or 6) senses, but a higher number of them.

For example the sense of proprioception, which is among the senses which has undergone massive transformation in recent times: the feeling of being in a certain place. Where are we when we are non Skype, on Facebook, or while we look at Google Earth?  We are in a different, other, place, which is not where our physical body is, not at our friend’s house, not on the screen, but in-between, suspended, Other.

It is necessary, in our contemporary world, to understand how to deal with this and similar facts, with this dimension.

This is fundamental for Design.

a chair

a chair

Let’s imagine designing a chair.

When I design a chair, I’m not designing an object. I’m creating a story.

A story which is the result of the entanglement multiple elements, including the chair’s shapes, materials, structural properties.

lots of different chairs

lots of different chairs

But also of a series of other elements. What do I mean when I say or imagine a “chair”? What does someone with a different culture or background mean by it? What do I expect from a chair? What do I like, hate, fear, desire from it? Which chairs have I experienced, seen, wanted, worked with in my life? …

It is an intricate story, built from formal elements, cultural ones, experiential ones, affective ones, emotional ones, and so on. Regarding me, and also all the other people which this chair is for, or who will see the chair in the store and recognise it as a chair, feel desire, attraction, repulsion, fear, love, seduction, and other emotions, feelings and meanings for it.

This is, as we were saying, even more complex in the era of ubiquitous information, in which search engines (like the image above, which is obtained by performing an image search for chairs), social networks, websites, augmented realities and more add multiple other layers to this, generated by people, companies, organisations and more.

This is not a new thing.

It has always been there: objects (and products, services, ideas, narratives…) have been stories which people interpret using their own cultures, contexts, cues and backgrounds since the beginning of mankind.

Let’s think of an incipit:

I was alone, at sea

I was alone, at sea

“I was alone, at sea.”

If you close your eyes, and try to visualise this incipit, what is happening in it, what do you imagine?

Different people imagine different things.

Some will think of men, women. Some will thing about homes, rafts, yachts. Some will think about sadness, or meditative states, or fear, danger, or happiness and love.

What does this mean?

It means that we create the story ourselves, in our minds.

It means that a writer (or designer, or…) never has complete control of the story, of how different people perceive it, imagine it, experience it.

It means that we build the story ourselves in our minds by harvesting a series of clues which are disseminated across a variety of media. Clues which are relevant, irrelevant, collateral, coming from what the writer wrote (or the designer designed, or developer developed, or interface designer designed…) and filtered, changed, transformed according to what we know about the world, the things we have seen and experienced. Or from what we desire, expect, envision, prefer.

Or even shaped by what we have seen online, in the streets of our city, on a billboard, or with the tail of our eye somewhere, or by something we have overheard on the bus, casually listening to what other people were saying.

All this clues, the ones we use to create the story in our heads, are disseminated across a variety of media.

Henry Jenkins defines Transmedia as:

Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience. Ideally, each medium makes it own unique contribution to the unfolding of the story.

In relation to design, we can use this definition as a starting point, to imagine Design as an act of World Building. Of creating Worlds instead of Objects.

What IF

What IF

If we do this, we would probably try to give answers to a series of “What if?” type questions.

What would be in the world if the object (product/service/application/artwork…) existed?

We know that cars exist not only for the existence of automobiles as physical objects.

We know that cars exist for a number of different reasons, possibly even more important that “cars” (as object) themselves (thing about, for example, if I don’t own a car: its other manifestations could be more important for me than the car itself in knowing about cars’ existence in the world).

Cars exist and we know it, also because we know that repair shops exist, insurance policies, parking tickets, parking lots, car advertisements, gas stations. There are people who publish pictures of their car and with their cars on social networks. There are accidents. There are people who desire certain cars. People who talk on the phone telling their friends that yesterday they ran out of gas and they had to leave the car in the middle of nowhere and walk home. There are prizes in which you win cars. There are cars lovers websites. And cars haters websites, for multiple reasons. There are car factories, and people who work in them. The same people who are on strike when the car factory in which they work shuts down because the production of cars has moved to China, or to some place else. There is the guy who invented the hydrogen car of the future. And many more manifestations of cars.

We know that cars exist because there are all of these things. And all these things exist because there are cars.

What would happen if we took away “cars” (as physical objects) and left all their other manifestations in place? With all probability, we would still think that cars exist.

In general, there are a number of transmedia manifestations of the “car” phenomenon. Which is not an “object”, but a Transmedia Narrative, a Simulacrum.

And, thus, let’s go back to the Simulacrum:

Simulacrum

Simulacrum

Designers (and artists, politicians, lawyers, and more and more professions) are transforming themselves, wether they realise it or not, into Transmedia Storytellers: professionals who are able to enact world-building processes by designing a Simulacrum through its coordinated manifestations across a variety of different media.

The objective of this type of actions, is twofold: to intervene on “reality” and to “loose control of the story, in controlled ways”.

First: to intervene on “reality”. On consensual reality, on the things and scenarios which we have learned to recognise as real, socially, culturally, psychologically, cognitively and more. To create a transmedia path in which the object (or product, service, law, concept, artwork…) becomes present in the world not only through its physical/digital presence, but also through the presence of its transmedia manifestations.

Not designing objects, but designing worlds.

This permits a powerful transition: to shift the perception of what is possible. By creating a World, instead of an object, we can provide the clues which allow people to believe in the possibility for this World (and for the object/service/artwork/law…) to exist.

And, second, to loose control of the story, in controlled ways.

This is, possibly, among the main opportunity for design in the Era of Knowledge, Information and Communication. The rise of Open Source, peer-to-peer production models, participatory and mutual economies and many more elements constitute evidence for this.

As described, we can use Transmedia Storytelling and World Building techniques to induce a state of Hyperreality. We can create Simulacra.

When this happens – when Hyperreality happens, when we design for Hyperreality – we do not create copies of reality, or their expansions or extensions. We create a new reality, a different one.

This allows us – as described by Deleuze – to establish a privileged position, which allows us to observe the phenomena of our world, and to open new spaces for their critical discussion.

By creating Hyperreality, we create languages and imaginaries, through the shift in perception of possibility: because we learn that something Other is possible, we acquire new language and new pieces of imagination.

And we can (and will) use them to express ourselves.

The Design becomes, thus, a platform for other people’s expression. It becomes a participatory performance.

This is of fundamental value, because through this modality people will not only able to express around their perception of possibility, but also and more importantly on the level of preferability, and of desirability. Expression not only on possible futures, but also of preferable, desirable ones.

From our point of view, this is an exceptional new role for Design and Designers.

 

Note: this post is the transcription of our contribution to the event on Transmedia Storytelling which was held at the MAXXI Museum in Rome.

The event is the result of the Master in Public & Exhibit Design we hold in La Sapienza University in Rome.

This year we collaborated with artist Maria Cristina Finucci on her Garbage Patch State project, by creating a complex Transmedia Narrative. Here below is the publication of the results of our work: