Design Fiction

Shaping Things by Bruce Sterling

I was reading Shaping Things by Bruce Sterling over the weekend, which is a real bumper book of design thought. One phrase which came up was ‘design fiction’.

It struck me that a lot of what we consider science fiction actually has very little do with futuristic science.

There is so much we can do with current technology, that perhaps some of the most compelling science fiction books of the next few years will be about re-imagining different ways of living with the technologies we currently have available.

I’d personally love to see more design fiction, since it would represent a wider cultural discourse on something which touches all of our lives.

Books like 1984 have become more relevant as their premises have become technically feasible.

If it weren’t for 1984 would people be so wary of the potential for surveillance from new technologies?

Books like that are valuable explorations of the ramifications of certain design and technology choices, and could end up inspiring future designers at least as much as science fiction has done for scientists in the past.