Reflection XIII

What did you learn this week?

This week we continued our discussion on Arnold Wasserman’s 2050 plan for education, and continued to work towards creating a tangible plan for making free education in 2050 a reality. With Stuart Candy’s experiential futures ideas, we learned about how to better convey futures scenarios through emotional connections. In class we performed skits that outlined potential futures for free education in 2050.

This was a great week because it’s always interesting to learn about new ways to share ideas. Each medium always has pros and cons, and I think that there are some unique advantages to this way of doing things. Mostly, I just enjoyed how much fun it was to see my peers perform. The laughter in the room captured an informality and a comfort level that is super contusive to a good working environment with many new ideas.

How might you apply what you learned to a project you are working on?

Next semester I start experimental form, where I imagine there will be a lot of time spent in this early part of a design process. I think that it’ll be especially useful to do things like act out scenarios, especially with props (our future designed objects) to help consider what interactions may be like in the future. I guess the furniture kids already do that with their life-size prototypes.

How does what you learned influence your design practice? What might you do differently?

            This week was special to me because it provided more credibility to futures thinking. It was also a really fun end to the semester. I think what we learned this week is a more lighthearted approach to design considerations, and I appreciate that many kids had great ideas and performed them with humbleness. I hope that in the future I can incorporate more of this modesty, restraint, and humbleness into my field, which currently I think relies too much on speaking loudly to hide the weakness of ideas.


Reflection XII

What did you learn this week?

This week we continued our discussion on Arnold Wasserman’s 2050 plan for education, and continued to work towards creating a tangible plan for making free education in 2050 a reality. Last week we worked on finding quantifiable data with which we can measure progress, and this week we worked on finding goals along the way, every 10 years. We also, naturally, considered how STEEP forces would help and hurt our goals.

How might you apply what you learned to a project you are working on?

This work comes at a great time, actually. My 2050 is the end of exam week, a time by which I will have a lot more work done than I do now (hopefully). The intermediary goals are the individual projects I have due, that I’m going to manage one by one. It’s a stretch, and in the future this system will help with establishing intermediary goals in a long term project, but right now exams and projects are all I have left.

How does what you learned influence your design practice? What might you do differently?

            This week was special to me because it provided more credibility to futures thinking. It continued to answer the question “how are you going to back this up?” which was a missing piece in my mind. In my design practice I’ll try to make sure to be accountable for my ideas no matter how ludicrous they may be, and provide at least the potential that they could become reality. Beyond the final goal we learned about last week, this technique, the excel document, provides even more credibility to futures thinking.


Reflection XI

What did you learn this week?

This week we continued our discussion on Normative Futures, specifically continuing our conversation about how to make a free education realistic in 2050. Our class assignment was an exercise about making a business model, where we made a “free” imaginary business. Noah Johnson, Raph Weikart and I thought up a crowd-sourced pet-finding app, and we learned about the struggles of providing a free service while still making money. Ultimately our solution for our app doesn’t translate well into free education: paying for a premium version of the service is directly against the idea of a free and equal education opportunity for all.

How might you apply what you learned to a project you are working on?

This week was directly applicable to everyday problem solving in design and elsewhere. We spent time imagining real world solutions to hypothetical problems, or in other words, the foundation behind our desired future ideas. In my How Things Are Made class, we’ve been discussing polymers, which are dirt cheap, moldable in any shape, and have a huge variety of applications and capabilities… the only problem is the enormous environmental impact. How can we mitigate this while still enjoying the enormous upside of these materials? Using this kind of thinking will help.

How does what you learned influence your design practice? What might you do differently?

            This week was special to me because it provided credibility to futures thinking. It answered the question “how are you going to back this up?” which was a missing piece in my mind. In my design practice I’ll try to make sure to be accountable for my ideas no matter how ludicrous they may be, and provide at least the potential that they could become reality.


Office Lens 20161118-124950.jpg


Reflection X

What did you learn this week?

This week we officially continued our discussion on Normative Futures, but the real value came from our conversations on philosophy and self-improvement. To me it’s strange and beneficial that an event as shocking as the recent election creates a collective mood on campus. For many people it’s an awful event, but like others, people have come together on campus and provided support for each other.

The philosophy videos, especially Kwame Anthony Appaiah’s portion about being a global citizen, really helped me to make sense of things.

How might you apply what you learned to a project you are working on?

This doesn’t have immediate application to any of my projects in my professional/school life right now, but it does have application to personal projects and projects of personality. Just trying to be a good person is a strange thing. This week’s discussion helps me empathize with others.

How does what you learned influence your design practice? What might you do differently?

            I don’t do a lot of writing, but when I do write, it tends to be about self-improvement. It’s not intelligent or often times cohesive, but it does change how I live because it helps me to reflect upon my behavior and change it to better align with who I want to be. Our discussion on Thursday provided justification for this habit, as it has made a difference in my life. 


Week 9 Reflection Peer Review:

BENNY JOHNSON

Benny and I have similar summaries of what happened this week. Her opinions on the summary were effective.

In P, she is studying lawn care. They interesting part is the persona she created, and the relationship she has with Futures. They work hand-in-hand nicely, especially compared to my E work.

Normative futures does have incredible value, which Benny seems to agree with. We both have the idea of critiquing our careers within the concept of what's goin' on in the future. 

 

JEONG MIN SEO

Jeong Min and I have similar summaries of what we did this week, but Jeong Min has an influence on the international aspects of our studies. For me "education" just meant everywhere, I hadn't thought of it existing in the current global economy.

Jeong Min has a similar idea with Benny about normative futures in application, but it's a little different than with me. That being said we both use them to establish goals and ways to get there.

He also uses normative futures to critique and set goals for himself in his design career. that's the same as me. 


Reflection IV

What did you learn this week?

This week we discussed education and education reform in the context of Normative Futures, as supposed to the alternative futures. Specifically, we watched a TED talk from a New York Times representative talking about the importance of education in gender equality in rural China, and also Arnold Wasserman’s essay on the future of learning in 2050. I found these both insightful examples of the value of education, and the latter a great idea of where education could go if we as a culture choose to make the sacrifices to do so.

How might you apply what you learned to a project you are working on?

 Normative futures are among the most applicable topics of the semester so far. Choosing a goal then retroactively working backwards from that are important skills to accomplish anything. In my Marketing I class, we have a large project due at the end. While I can’t visualize what I want that project to look like exactly, I have a general idea of what I want the content to be. Now, I have made a plan of when I will tackle each category of content in order to be ready on the day of the presentation.

How does what you learned influence your design practice? What might you do differently?

This lesson has influenced my design practice, but has also reinforced a goal toward my desired lifestyle. I’ve always considered foresight to have value. I admire it in my peers, and I hope to one day have more self control than today. Imagining a normative future as a tenable goal is a valuable strategy because it creates a path between now and a desired future, whether that is Apple CEO or generic furniture design company owner. Specifically in my career, I’m going to need a job soon. Normative futures will help me establish a strategy to get what I want.


Reflection VIII

What did you learn this week?

This week we discussed futures scenarios and zero waste. Specifically we watched a handful of TedTalks about how individiuals changed their lifestyles to align with new worldviews of zero waste, and how they were coping with a different lifestyle embedded within the context of the United States.

How might you apply what you learned to a project you are working on?

            The most pungent part of this unit, for me, was the resolve these individuals had for being themselves within a system that was insensitive to that. I apply this to group work in my Environments track.

            Group work is difficult because often a compromise leaves nobody happy, but this sort of futures thinking that we learned this week can potentially help group attitudes by bringing new ideas to the table. Instead of all fitting into the collective Design School worldview (everything should be sustainable, for instance), the individuals in this group can express their own ideas, go against the norm, and we will all be better for reasoning these other realities.

How does what you learned influence your design practice? What might you do differently?

            Brainstorming a minimalist lifestyle is an interesting exercise because it helps me imagine a specific future. For me, this semester is all about contextualizing my practice: I’m taking an architectural theory course, taking a break from P to see broader in E, even trudging through the aforementioned Marketing I to understand my future coworkers’ opinions. This class reinforces the contextual emphasis I’m working to focus on during this time in my academic career. I think that a minimalist lifestyle would ironically solve a lot of problems that we face with the world of products today… in a way, there are too many. It is strange to be going into a field with the goal of shrinking it, but hey, I guess that’s where I’ve ended up.


Reflection VII

What did you learn this week?

This week, we discussed maps of futures thinking, an intriguing and appropriate way of visualizing (both abstractly and literally) the futures scenarios. On Wednesday of last week we discussed futures wheels, and on Wednesday of this week we critiqued those wheels (which are, as I understand, a multitude of different futures scenarios as spokes from a central idea). We critiqued the wheels through Jim Dator’s futures studies and four concepts ranging from concrete to abstract: litany, social system and structure, worldview, and myth.

How might you apply what you learned to a project you are working on?

            The exercises we performed this week help define long-term thinking and short-term thinking, and separate the two on a contextual level. Frankly I’m not sure how I’m going to apply this.

            I suppose it may come in handy in my Marketing I semester project, where we’re proposing a new marketing strategy for fitbit. Potentially, when planning for the future, this protocol will help us separate feasible ideas from infeasible ideas. Of course, the farther into the abstract future you think, the more agency we have for change. It will be interesting to balance feasibility with possibility.

How does what you learned influence your design practice? What might you do differently?

            Futures wheels have an indirect impact on my design practice and a direct impact on my design theory. Thinking about the future with multiple perspectives, along a spectrum from narrow to broad, and visualizing multiple possibilities with different spokes will help a boatload with developing my working projects. For me, this semester is all about contextualizing my practice: I’m taking an architectural theory course, taking a break from P to see broader in E, even trudging through the aforementioned Marketing I to understand my future coworkers’ opinions. This class, this unit in particular, reinforces the contextual emphasis I’m working to focus on during this time in my academic career. 


Reflection VI

What did you learn this week?

This week, we discussed alternative futures – specifically Arnold Wasserman, PPPP futures, and Jim Dator’s four generic futures. In my opinion, the week’s material is the most tenable and applicable to design. More specifically, we learned to use two-axis uncertainties to visualize possible futures, find certainties and uncertainties, and consider driving forces of change in futures scenarios.

How might you apply what you learned to a project you are working on?

            In the Environments studio course, we are beginning to build our first master plan iterations for the Carrie Furnaces site. Again, I’m running into a problem with testing our ideas: we’re unable to test behavior as accurately as I’ve come to appreciate in Products with accurate prototypes. We’re making a lot of assumptions about people’s behavior and how they’ll interact with Carrie because it’s not plausible to build life size simulations. It makes me wonder about how iteration works in architecture.

            Despite this grim outlook, potential futures thinking with PPPP helps us visualize what could possibly be what’s ahead, and more importantly what we desire to be ahead. With this outlook we can set goals and then work towards them.

How does what you learned influence your design practice? What might you do differently?

            Alternative futures have an indirect impact on my design practice and a direct impact on my design theory. Thinking about the future with multiple perspectives and visualizing multiple possibilities helps a boatload with developing my working philosophy. For me, this semester is all about contextualizing my practice: I’m taking an architectural theory course, taking a break from P to see broader in E, even trudging through Marketing I. This class, this unit in particular, reinforces the contextual emphasis I’m working to focus on during this time in my academic career. 


Reflection V

What did you learn this week?

This week, we discussed foresight as a tool for futures thinking through the thoughts and lectures of Alvin Toffler, Richard Slaughter, John A. Sweeney, Stuart Candy, and Sohail Inayatullah. Alvin Toffler discussed how foresight can predict economic change, which drives social change – a point of view opposite of most. Richard Slaughter, John A. Sweeney, and Stuart Candy describe foresight as a tool for predicting the most likely future in order to move from there towards more desirable scenarios. Sohail Inayatullah discusses foresight and futures thinking with six concepts:

used futures: what has already been considered?

disowned futures: what hasn’t?

alternative futures: what is plausible but not likely?

alignment: how does one measure the quality of a future scenario?

theory of social change: what is the basis of this measurement?

use of futures: what is the value of foresight and futures thinking?

These concepts provide a helpful protocol for conceiving, organizing, and interpreting futures scenarios. ?

How might you apply what you learned to a project you are working on

In the Environments studio course, we are beginning to build our first master plan iterations for the Carrie Furnaces site. Because we are so early on, and unable to test behavior effectively, we’re making a lot of assumptions about people’s behavior and how they’ll interact with Carrie: moving about the space, interacting with exhibits, even things as simple as staying on or straying from the path. With Jasper, I’m going to be using foresight to discover disowned and alternative futures scenarios in order to predict behavior most effectively in the space.

How does what you learned influence your design practice? What might you do differently?

Foresight practices exist in a valuable space between too broad and too specific to be applicable. Large, contextual futures thinking like we practiced in the first couple weeks proved great things to have in the back of my mind, but I was unable to apply them specifically. On the other hand, foresight, especially Sohail Inayatullah’s six concepts, is an effective tool. 


Reflection IV

What did you learn in this unit?

This unit helped me imagine a future in a more personal aspect: the family tree. It’s so easy to discuss the future as this grand, mythical topic, but how will it affect people? In the Frontline documentary, we saw the effects of the economy and the political sphere, both generally abstract concepts, have very real consequences in the personal lives of two families.

how might you apply what you learned to a project you are working on?

Personas can be valuable if used correctly. In Environments, we’re designing Carrie Furnaces as a park/exhibit. Right now, personas will not be of much help, because we’re designing the experience from a large, abstract perspective (we have all semester). Later, though, when we’re considering how to adjust our experience towards the kind of person that would visit the historic site, I’m sure we’ll heavily use personas to predict how the public will receive our exhibits.

how does what you learned influence your design practice?

A couple weeks ago I considered how many futures scenarios prioritize tech over people. One of the more compelling arguments for product design I’ve heard is that the practice matches technology and people, helping them to work together for the people. Most of our world is built by us, which gives designers a tremendous amount of agency (is this what transition design is? Someone please tell me). Imagining a future based on tech is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and we need to design futures around people. We shouldn’t be working for our machines; our machines should be working for us. The work I’ve done this week with the Stanleys has helped me continue this background consideration. 


Max Plummer

Futures Week III Reflection

This week was a bit harder to follow than the others, but I'm still very much enjoying myself in this class. The blockchain exercise was an interesting counterargument to the first week's lesson about designing futures for people instead of for tech. It's an interesting dialogue, because it's the tech that's changing, not the humans. Maybe the point of both is to explain how tech advancements will change our human experiences... this will become clearer as the semester progresses. 

I was enjoying lunch today with a computer science major that was working on a teleconferencing device prototype that used kinect and a smart display to let users work with their hands together from remote locations, and I couldn't help but think about how many times I've seen this project (or close relatives of this project) proposed in the School of Design. This idea is old news and boring to me, but to him, the guy that actually has to make it work, it's a new and exciting experience. I find it interesting how the School of Design has plans for how to adapt future tech and assumes that Computer Science will get around to inventing it, and how Computer Science has the limitation of only dreaming about conceivable objects. I mentioned this to my friend and he told me his school seemed to always be waiting on Materials Science. 

Disruptive tech is a cool idea. It makes me wonder if the success of technologies is more dependent on the folks that create new technology, the folks that make it usable, or the folks that make it sell. 


Reflection II

What did you learn in this unit?

In this unit, I learned the subtleties of imagining a reasonable future based on humans rather than tech. Imagining a future as a storyboard, with people, instead of as a product pitch. In a way, the most concrete thing we know about the future is that there will be people- why wouldn’t it be intuitive for this to be the starting point on imagining what is to come? Perhaps the prevailing ideology is that people behavior is constant, and the world we build changes around us rapidly (at least compared to our culture). 

how might you apply what you learned to a project you are working on?

In Environments, we are designing a park exhibit around the Carrie Furnaces site in Braddock. Even in this research phase, we are grappling with complex issues of storytelling. Specifically to me, I find myself questioning my authority to tell the stories of the Carrie Furnaces, Homestead Works, and the rest of the steel industry in Allegheny county. These ideas about how the future is imagined, in good ways, bad ways, and how all those ways will be wrong because of surprises we fail to predict have helped me understand the value of telling the stories of the past.

how does what you learned influence your design practice?

One of the more compelling arguments for product design I’ve heard is that the practice matches technology and people, helping them to work together for the people. Most of our world is built by us, which gives designers a tremendous amount of leverage. Imagining a future based on tech is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and we need to design futures around people. We shouldn’t be working for our machines, our machines should be working for us.


Futures Reflection I:

The first week of classes reminded me of a lecture Cameron Tonkinwise gave us freshman year in Placing about the designers of the 50s, and how that aesthetic pushed the public psyche. For example, movies like Star Wars, 2001, and Blade Runner all propogated a particular vision of the future that, because of their popularity and exposure, guided reality. This general public vision of "the future" is hard to escape. 

The Masdar 2050 exercise made this painfully obvious. How do you make assumptions about the environment you will be designing for that are reliable and reasonable? It's easy to settle on a Star Wars future, with hoverboards and whatnot. It's also easy to settle for a design context not ambitious enough, which I think is what I did. 

Overall this week's presentations and exercises have helped me hone in on the subtleties of designing for the future, and have revealed significant hurdles that will define this class. 

Futures Homework 9/7:

Benny Johnson gave me insightful critique on my Masdar 2050 passively efficient window shade, particularly in the context of Jamais Cascio. First, we discussed how my future innovation was tech-oriented, and not people-oriented. And while there is advantage over a current window shade, will that improvement be worth much higher initial cost? A people-oriented futures scenario would consider buyers rejecting a higher price point and a more involved installation. Also, the shade may not look good; taste will be important in the future too. Frankly, my futures scenario was far more product-oriented than people-oriented, which makes it hard to critique in a Jamais Cascio light. That being said, his reference will help in the future. 

Futures Homework 9/9:

 

Futures Reflection II:

What did you learn in this unit?

In this unit, I learned the subtleties of imagining a reasonable future based on humans rather than tech. Imagining a future as a storyboard, with people, instead of as a product pitch. In a way, the most concrete thing we know about the future is that there will be people- why wouldn’t it be intuitive for this to be the starting point on imagining what is to come? Perhaps the prevailing ideology is that people behavior is constant, and the world we build changes around us rapidly (at least compared to our culture). 

how might you apply what you learned to a project you are working on?

In Environments, we are designing a park exhibit around the Carrie Furnaces site in Braddock. Even in this research phase, we are grappling with complex issues of storytelling. Specifically to me, I find myself questioning my authority to tell the stories of the Carrie Furnaces, Homestead Works, and the rest of the steel industry in Allegheny county. These ideas about how the future is imagined, in good ways, bad ways, and how all those ways will be wrong because of surprises we fail to predict have helped me understand the value of telling the stories of the past. 

how does what you learned influence your design practice?

One of the more compelling arguments for product design I’ve heard is that the practice matches technology and people, helping them to work together for the people. Most of our world is built by us, which gives designers a tremendous amount of leverage. Imagining a future based on tech is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and we need to design futures around people. We shouldn’t be working for our machines, our machines should be working for us. 

Futures Week III Reflection

This week was a bit harder to follow than the others, but I'm still very much enjoying myself in this class. The blockchain exercise was an interesting counterargument to the first week's lesson about designing futures for people instead of for tech. It's an interesting dialogue, because it's the tech that's changing, not the humans. Maybe the point of both is to explain how tech advancements will change our human experiences... this will become clearer as the semester progresses. 

I was enjoying lunch today with a computer science major that was working on a teleconferencing device prototype that used kinect and a smart display to let users work with their hands together from remote locations, and I couldn't help but think about how many times I've seen this project (or close relatives of this project) proposed in the School of Design. This idea is old news and boring to me, but to him, the guy that actually has to make it work, it's a new and exciting experience. I find it interesting how the School of Design has plans for how to adapt future tech and assumes that Computer Science will get around to inventing it, and how Computer Science has the limitation of only dreaming about conceivable objects. I mentioned this to my friend and he told me his school seemed to always be waiting on Materials Science. 

Disruptive tech is a cool idea. It makes me wonder if the success of technologies is more dependent on the folks that create new technology, the folks that make it usable, or the folks that make it sell.