I was on the Near Future Laboratory podcast with Julian Bleeker, talking about the ethics, politics, and occasional frustrations of design fiction. We also discussed some exercises to promote creative thinking and get students started with producing future scenarios.
Many #ThingsofCOVID19 are robots of various types. This one is an autonomous rover designed to roam a supermarket or a warehouse, while blasting UV lights that (should) kill viruses. I do wonder about the effect of UV radiation on fresh foods…
Public spaces are deeply changed by social distancing measures. So far, Taiwan has been exemplar in how they controlled the virus. Taiwanese baseball league is still playing, but without live audience, and they’re using cardboard fan cutouts as a #ThingofCOVID19.
Dealing with social distancing is not only a matter of reorganizing one’s life, but also of saying no to hugs and physical contacts. This is particularly hard for people with a compromised immune system, or otherwise particularly at risk. This #ThingofCOVID19 is the Knuffelscherm (literally the Cuddlescreen?), currently in crowdfunding phase. Give it a look at https://knuffelscherm.nl/ and perhaps pitch in to help keep COVID-19 out of assisted-living homes
Today’s #thingofCOVID19 is https://ncase.me/covid-19 a playable simulator by Marcel Salathé & Nicky Case, explaining with interactive visualizations some future scenarios and different approaches to contain the virus.
This is a #ThingofCOVID19 that is also a zine, called “Urgency Reader 2: Mutual Aid Publishing During Crisis”. It is an experiment in instant publishing, with a call for contribution that was announced on March 18 2020 and remained open for the following 10 days. It contains reflections, sketches, patterns for face masks, provocations, speculations, and stories. The result is open access and can be downloaded for free
#ThingsofCOVID19 “Testing Serres Séparées at Mediamatic ETEN – Safer water side dining in Amsterdam. Soon, we’ll offer really nice plant-based dinner in our greenhouses on the Amsterdam water side of the Oosterdok. We are testing the setup now whilst waiting for permission to re-open our restaurant and art space. Of course, these chambres séparées are recommended only for people that are already living together. Photo was taken at Mediamatic ETEN in Biotoop Dijkspark during our testing on April 27, 2020. Reproduction permitted with credit: Willem Velthoven for Mediamatic Amsterdam.” For the record, I’ve also come across some criticism of this proposal from the owners of other venues who say (I’m synthesizing) that Mediamatic is in a pretty privileged position given the space & resources available, and many others really cannot afford to take the same route.
The metro trains in Milan, quite close to the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy, will have stickers to remind passengers of what is the “safe” distance to keep. I guess that visualizing a relatively abstract notion (stay at least 1.5 meters apart) into something that’s more embodied is a challenge for many #ThingsofCOVID19.
The future of air travel in the times of COVID-19? I think it’s quite interesting to see that many designers and vendors (like Avio Interiors) focus on #ThingsofCOVID19 to fix (?) minute issues rather than the larger system of air travel. I’m not saying that focusing on quick solutions is per se always wrong, but perhaps a broader rethinking is in order.
For a fresh twist on design cards, take a look at Fabricating Alternatives, an online tool that uses machine learning to extract data from articles you feed it and generate a custom deck of inspiration cards.
Handy is a multipurpose object to push buttons, open doors, pull levers and even carry shopping bags! This one is not for sale, and its author Matteo Zallio released it as an Open Source / Creative Commons thing to 3D-print, adapt it and use it. Credits to Gábi Prattingerová for the tip
Another #ThingofCOVID19, a curious ritual that could (?) become commonplace in a lasting pandemic: sterilizing your smartphone. As phones are already ubiquitous in our lives and play a special role during social isolation, it stands to reason that people want to sanitize them?
A first #ThingofCOVID19 – a rather questionable proposal for social isolation on the seaside. This artifact hasn’t been realized, and perhaps it will never be, but I find it significant that public spaces related to leisure, such as beaches, seem so important in our collective imaginary of living with the pandemics.
Of course someone would try to gamify social distancing in a stupid, simplistic way. We can & should do better than this. Nothing wrong with giving playful incentives, but this is a lazy approach to a difficult challenge.
“Snapchat’s location-sharing app acquisition Zenly has gamified shelter-in-place during the COVID-19 outbreak. Today the app launched its Stay At Home challenge that shows a leaderboard of which friends have spent the most percentage of the last three days in their homes. Users can see who’s social distancing the best and share stickers of the scoreboard and coronavirus prevention tips to Snapchat, Instagram and other apps.”
Creative technologist Tomo Kihara explores why Google AI image recognition system “sees” people with darker skin as more violent. He is developing simple games with the Cloud Vision API to push & prod the system, and understand it better. This is a really cool example of what could be called Research Through (Game) Design
Kieran Nolan’s PhD thesis “The Art, Aesthetics, and Materiality of the Arcade Videogame Interface”. Kieran designed and built a number of arcade cabinets with technologies from the mid-80s to the late 90s to explore the aesthetics of video game interfaces as digital material. The thesis is open access http://www.tara.tcd.ie/handle/2262/90862
Things I’m reading these days. Maria Luce Lupetti, Roy Bendor, Elisa Giaccardi “Robot Citizenship: A Design Perspective.” «Designing for robot citizenship has the potential of fostering a shift from a logic of functionality to one of relationality»
People into interactive narrative might find interesting this voice-based experience about an Australian aboriginal language. I like how it uses the act of speaking as a meaningful way to advance the story
This is a urgent topic that requires a fundamental rethinking of what we do, what we teach, and – in many ways – who we are. I myself am a product of the “computing is good / tech is good / we need more smart stuff” ideology, and I find it quite difficult to resist the sirens of shiny new “stuff”. Much deeper reflection is urgently needed, and much more design work.
Have a look at Saba Golchehr’s Ph.D. thesis at the Royal College of Art. “Data for design: Adopting data-driven approaches for long term citizen participation and social sustainability in design for the public realm” http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/4060
“The world is flooded with more information than ever before. Ubiquitous digital technologies have enabled direct access to large amounts of empirical data to inform a wide range of topics and investigations. This thesis set out to explore how these novel data technologies offer new opportunities to designers to greatly increase their knowledge of the built environment and how people inhabit it, to inform design in the public realm.”
The Civic Tech Field Guide is a crowdsourced, global collection of civic tech tools and projects. It’s an official project of Civic Hall, a one-of-a-kind non-profit collaboration center for the world’s civic innovators.
Thousands of civic tech practitioners from over 100 countries around the world have contributed to this living resource. It catalogs not only the tools, but also the social side of the field: the conferences, funders, awards, design principles and playbooks.
It includes govtech, civic tech, media tech, and high tech in our definition of “tech for the public good”. It’s a free, and Creative-Commons-licensed collection.
Risa Puno designed “The Privilege of Escape,” an art installation and escape room that uses tangible and playful interactions to materialize the abstract concept of Privilege. Subverting the format of this popular group pastime, Puno has constructed an experience that encourages participants to think about how privilege functions in society – and to what end. The term “privilege” is loaded and confusing for many, often triggering strong emotions that undermine constructive conversations. Inspired by the game of life, where societal rules are often arbitrary, fixed, and unfair, The Privilege of Escape showcases Puno’s ability to introduce complex social issues through play, innovative game design, and puzzle logic.
This open-access book explores the affordances of new media technologies for empowering citizens in the process of city making, relating examples of bottom-up or participatory practices to reflections about the changing roles of professional practitioners in the processes, as well as issues of governance and institutional policymaking.
This thesis project explores the capacity of digital critical games when it comes to conveying socially relevant messages and making the player reflect on the real life outside of the game, with a specific interest in self-reflection.