Tag Archives: The Ohio State University

A guerrilla future realized.

This week my brilliant students in Collaborative Studio 4650 provided a real word guerrilla future for the Humane Technologies: Livable Futures Pop-Up Collaboration at The Ohio State University. The design fiction was replete with diegetic prototypes and a video enactment. Our goal was to present a believable future in 2024 when ubiquitous AR glasses are the part of our mundane everyday. We made the presentation in Sullivant Hall’s Barnett Theater, and each member of the team had a set of mock AR glasses. The audience consisted of about 50 students ranging from the humanities to business. It was an amazing experience. It has untold riches for my design fiction research, but there were also a lot of revelations about how we experience, and enfold technology. After the presentation, we pulled out the white paper and markers and divided up into groups for a more detailed deconstruction of what transpired. While I have not plowed through all the scrolls that resulted from the post-presentation discussion groups, it seems universal that we can recognize how technology is apt to modify our behavior. It is also interesting to see that most of us have no clue how to resist these changes. Julian Oliver wrote in his (2011) The Critical Engineering Manifesto,

“5. The Critical Engineer recognises that each work of engineering engineers its user, proportional to that user’s dependency upon it.”

The idea of being engineered by our technology was evident throughout the AugHumana presentation video, and in discussions, we quickly identified the ways in which our current technological devices engineer us. At the same time, we feel more or less powerless to change or effect that phenomenon. Indeed, we have come to accept these small, incremental, seemingly mundane, changes to our behavior as innocent or adaptive in a positive way. En masse, they are neither. Kurzweil stated that,

‘We are not going to reach the Singularity in some single great leap forward, but rather through a great many small steps, each seemingly benign and modest in scope.’

History has shown that these steps are incrementally embraced by society and often give way to systems with a life of their own. An idea raised in one discussion group was labeled as effective dissent, but it seems almost obvious that unless we anticipate these imminent behavioral changes, by the time we notice them it is already too late, either because the technology is already ubiquitous or our habits and procedures solidly support that behavior.

There are ties here to material culture and the philosophy of technology that merits more research, but the propensity for technology to affect behavior in an inhumane way is powerful. These are early reflections, no doubt to be continued.

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Passing the MFA examination.

Next stop graduation.

Can’t believe that I haven’t written about this. The exam was last week, April 3rd. I submitted the 300+ page thesis about two weeks ago to my thesis committee. The last 150 or so pages were comprised of the shooting script, so while I did write all those pages, the scholarly part consisted of about half of the total content. The shooting script became the day by day guide—essentially a comic book script—for the graphic novel which I continue to use whenever I am creating images and panels. (Always plugging the story.)

Earlier in March, as part of making my rounds to universities as a candidate for open design faculty positions, I prepared a complete pitch on the entire design fiction thesis and project. Since Ohio State was one of those schools where I was interviewing, many of the faculty and most of my committee saw the long version of  When Designer’s Ask, “What If?”  Anyway, the presentation was trimmed down to a much smaller and concise snapshot so that the committee would not be seeing a lot of duplication. There was a rather lengthy discussion afterward with some genuinely tough questions, but in the end everyone signed off with only minor corrections to the thesis paper. (I have a tendency to over-comma.)

After extinguishing the comma problem I submitted the paper to my advisor for a final review. This will get uploaded to the university archives and then the process is officially over. Graduation is on May 5th.

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