"I have come to observe that what we call "fact" has much to do with what is and what we see with our own eyes, as I do now this writing paper and quill I use to write this dispatch. Yet the imagination is spurred by things immaterial as images and words just as forcibly. Sears & Roebuck and their exhaustive catalog of every possible artifact Man should ever need does indeed serve as this century's greatest imaginarium I have ever been blessed to lay mine own eyes upon. It speaks to what could be."

Abraham Lincoln private correspondence to Adelaide Wilton, widow of Sgt. Rutherford Wilton

To Be Designed

A multidisciplinary group of thinkers, makers and near future speculators will spend three days in Detroit to “do” science fiction: tangle up in fact and fiction and engage in curious crosstalk about the things that could be. The goal, then, is to Design Fiction and turn talk into deliberate actions and artifacts; to swerve the present by telling the story of a near future we imagine can be possible.

What we aim to create — to spur conversations about the things that will matter in the near future — is a near future product catalog. For example, a SkyMall, or Sears Wish Book or McMaster-Carr catalog for the near future. Think of it as a near future science fiction sourcebook of products. It’s a collection of stuff , as if that collection of stuff existed as routinely as Sasquatch garden statuettes, inflatable neck pillows, combination USB thumb drive nail clipper laser pointers, battery-powered screwdrivers, allen wrench sets and flat tire repair kits.

This catalog is meant to represent the materialization of conversations amongst a small group of designers, makers and writers. Into this catalog will be things that express our sense of how the near future will be lived. It will express the pragmatic concerns, ambitions, fears, everyday needs and wishes of the future’s inhabitants as represented through the catalog’s contents — it’s diegetic prototypes.

To do this we’ll have to consider the evolution of the ways and means of production of the near future, as well as shifts in the dynamics of creativity, law, aesthetic norms and values and incumbent measures of cultural achievement. The catalog will contain these Design Fiction products and things and services and present them as they would be when they become normal and everyday — even boring and mundane.

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Participants

Aaron Straup Cope

New York City, USA
@thisisaaronland

Bruce Sterling

Torino, Italy
@bruces

Cezanne Charles

Ann Arbor, USA
@rootoftwo

Chris Woebken

Brooklyn, USA
@chriswoebken

Christian Svanes Kolding

New York City, USA
@cskolding

Emmet Byrne

Minneapolis, USA
@emmetbyrne

James Bridle

London, UK
@jamesbridle

John Marshall

Ann Arbor, USA
@rootoftwo

Julian Bleecker

Venice, USA
@darthjulian

Karl Daubmann

Detroit, USA
Karl Daubmann

Marc Greuther

Detroit, USA
Marc Greuther

Marcus Bleecker

New York City, USA
@mbleex

Moka Pantages

San Francisco, USA
@moka

Nick Foster

San Francisco, USA
@fosta

Nicolas Nova

Geneva, Switzerland
@nicolasnova

Raphael Grignani

San Francisco, USA
@grignani

Tom Bray

Ann Arbor, USA
Tom Bray