Ubiquitous Surveillance Blog


I have devoted this page to visitors who have been part of the Ubiquitous Surveillance design fiction experience. The study is an ongoing provocation to generate discussion and debate about the future. I classify this as a “guerilla future” intervention. The classification comes from Stuart Candy (2010) who provides a definition for this kind of design fiction:

“Its aim as a practice is to introduce scenaric possibilities to publics that otherwise may not be exposed to them, or that, while perhaps aware of the possibilities in question, are unable or unwilling to give them proper consideration. It is about enabling people to become aware of and to question their assumptions about futures — possible, probable or preferable — by rendering one or more potentials concrete in the present, whether or not they have asked for it.(209)” [Emphasis added].

Originally this was part of a pilot study at The Ohio State University. People who saw the PaperCam™ label somewhere in their everyday environment (anywhere from a hallway to a lamppost to a bathroom stall) may have read it and curiously followed the link to another design fiction—a website for VisualFutureCorp.com. There, the near-future, design fiction scenario continues to play out providing a plausible but fictitious, near-future situation. After grasping this future, visitors could select a link to a survey designed to gather opinions on the whole experience. That was only partially successful for many reasons that I won’t go into here. Nevertheless, I received some interesting insights. Moving forward, I would argue that individual responses to survey questions are not as important as the pure provocation to contemplation, and the resulting discussion or debate that extends beyond the design fiction experience. For this reason, I have established this page as sounding board for new instances of PCam distribution.

Where will the camera show up next?
Where will the camera show up next?

One of the purposes of design fiction is to demonstrate that the future is not etched in stone, that your involvement can make a difference. Sometimes that difference starts with opening up to the idea that we are not powerless and voicing our thoughts and ideas is the first step. What would you do in this scenario? Would you support it? Would you oppose it? How might this future change if you were involved? This time around I am hoping that this will become a forum for real-time discussion and debate, so instead of a survey, the VFC site directs visitors here.

If you have stumbled over here by accident or general inquisitiveness, you can download a copy of the PaperCam here. Procedure: Print out some copies, trim them, fold-in-half and place them around your home or workplace. Visit and read the website story. Live with the “cameras” for a view days and then join the discussion.

To the future.

Candy, Stuart. The Futures of Everyday Life: Politics and the Design of Experiential Scenarios. Diss. U of Hawai‘i at Manoa, 2010. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Scribd.
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a blog about design and the story that connects