How I use speculative design

How I use speculative design

I use Speculative design methods to inquire different questions.

In a world that often embraces a linear view of progress, it is essential to question the dominant systems and explore alternative ways of thinking and existing. Speculative design provides a powerful framework for challenging the status quo and envisioning diverse futures. By engaging in speculative practices, we can unravel the complexities of our present and shed light on the untapped possibilities that lie beyond.

Unveiling the Illusions of Linear Progress:

The prevailing belief in linear progress obscures our understanding of the past, present, and future. Systems that become dominant are often a result of existing power structures and chance, rather than a reflection of their true quality. Speculative design invites us to question these assumptions and consider the presence of alternative paths that have been neglected. By speculating about these neglected alternatives, we open ourselves up to new ways of thinking and challenge the notion that the current state of things is the only natural way.

Hauntology: The Ghosts of Possibilities:

Drawing inspiration from the concept of hauntology coined by Jacques Derrida and Mark Fischer, Cally Gatehouse recognizes the impact of what is no longer present or what is anticipated but never realized. These “ghosts” continue to shape our behavior and influence the trajectory of our society. Through speculative design, we can aim to reconfigure these patterns, offering fresh perspectives on how both the past and the future can manifest differently.

Personal Explorations

In addition to my other explorations as a design researcher, I also employ speculative design as a personal process to envision alternatives for the Global South. By curating digital history archives, examining data privacy concerns, delving into language and translation, and collaborating with marginalized communities, I strive to shed light on the potential futures of digital cultures in these regions. In this article, I will share my projects and initiatives that utilize speculative design to reimagine technology, challenge power structures, and empower communities in the Global South.

Uncovering Digital Histories To understand the history of digital archives and the proliferation of technology in South Asia, I have curated a comprehensive list of South Asian digital history archives. This initiative enables me to gain insights into the evolution of digital technology in the region and its impact on society. By examining these archives, I can better comprehend the potential trajectories of digital cultures and their implications for the future.

One of my projects, the “Pattern Library on Offline Stores Soliciting Personal Data” addresses concerns about data privacy and the encroachment of surveillance capitalism. Through extensive research and compilation of examples, I aim to highlight how brick-and-mortar stores collect customer data. Furthermore, I investigate how the pervasive surveillance capitalism prevalent in the West influences hybrid systems in India, where online and offline surveillance mechanisms must coexist. By examining these practices, I seek to foster a better understanding of the privacy challenges we face and advocate for more responsible data collection practices.

Language, Translation, and Technological Metaphors Language plays a pivotal role in shaping our understanding of technology. In my project “Tech Translation - Alternatives from Etymology,” I delve into the etymology of technology terms to provide translators with culturally appropriate resources. By offering alternative metaphors and concepts, I aim to promote more inclusive and nuanced communication of technological ideas across different cultures. Additionally, this exploration opens up possibilities for envisioning alternative forms of technology by reshaping underlying metaphors.

Collaborating directly with communities, I embarked on the project “Fertile Technofutures from Bidar” to explore the realities and aspirations of community networks in regions with limited connectivity and understanding of digital technology. By amplifying local voices and examining grassroots initiatives, we strive to empower these communities to shape their own digital futures. This project also addresses crucial questions surrounding the development and maintenance of equitable technologies and the establishment of repair networks within the Global South.

”[[2020-01-01-The-Imposter-Among-Us]]” was a panel conversation facilitated by Paul and me. It investigates the implications of digital livestreaming platforms and their impact on politics. By studying how digital technologies have led to manufactured consent and large-scale truth fabrication, we gain insights into potential future platform affordances and their potential effects on the political landscape. This project serves as a means to anticipate and critically engage with emerging digital platforms, thereby promoting a more informed and responsible adoption of such technologies.

Open Source Hacking as Pedagogy: Recognizing the power of open-source technology, the “Jingle Tales” project explores how open source hacking can serve as a pedagogical tool for changemakers within communities. By leveraging accessible technologies and promoting DIY approaches, we aim to bridge the digital divide and empower individuals and communities to address local challenges. This project highlights the transformative potential of open-source collaboration and its ability to foster community-led solutions.

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