Cheap Futures

At ThingsCon last week, Shannon and I participated in a speculative fiction workshop that resulted in a number of short stories with design morals.

This took less than 4 hours, and while the output was a bit rough and needed copyediting before being published in the resulting zine, it was believable work. The workshop was certainly a success in demonstrating how process can enable creative thinking, but it also shows how little effort is needed to produce a professional outcome.

So it re-haunted me about how shallow “futures” can be. When a highly capable design agency like IDEO spends minimal effort on forecasting but produces a polished presentation, the attention paid by the designophilic press is completely inappropriate. Their Future of Automobility project was beautiful but so conceptually weak that it inspired us to spend just one day responding with a future of our own.

But when McKinsey and Bloomberg put together a thoroughly researched, meaningful report on the future of mobility, it got little attention outside the wonkish circles of transportation planning. Which is fine, because that is the community that needs to think about the issue. But it’s still upsetting that shallow thinking richly presented is what garners attention.

I posted this on in December 2016 during week 2231.

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