Design Fiction as World Building
journal contributionposted on 11.04.2019, 08:00 by RTD Conference, Paul Coulton, Joseph Lindley, Miriam Sturdee, Mike Stead
Design Fiction has garnered considerable attention during recent years yet still remains pre-paradigmatic. Put differently there are concurrent,but incongruent, perspectives on what Design Fiction is and how to use it. Acknowledging this immaturity, we assert that the best way to contribute to the establishment of an evidence-based first paradigm, is by adopting a research through design approach. Thus, in this paper we describe ‘research into design fiction, done through design fiction’. This paper describes the creation of two Design Fictions through which we consider the relationship between narrative and Design Fiction and argue that links between the two are often drawn erroneously. We posit that Design Fiction is in fact a ‘world building’ activity, with no inherent link to ‘narrative’ or ‘storytelling’. The first Design Fiction explores a near future world containing a system for gamified drone-based civic enforcement and the second is based on a distant future in which hardware and algorithms capable of detecting empathy are used as part of everyday communications. By arguing it is world building, we aim to contribute towards the disambiguation of current Design Fiction discourse and the promotion of genre conventions, and, in doing so to reinforce the foundations upon which a first stable paradigm can be constructed.