Session 11 :: Personal Futures

(1) 15 mins: Discussion of  Week 5 Reflection

Future signs: signals, issues, and interpretations. 
William Gibson famously said, “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” I’ve repeatedly said CMU is a time machine. You will see projects on campus that give us a sense of what will go mainstream 10-15 years later. These projects usually come out of research projects. What is an example of a future sign that you noticed on campus? Please provide the signal, issue, and interpretation.

(2) 20 min: Questions from the OLI

For the question about situating our design work within Shearing layers, the response you gave seemed to mostly situate the work of designers within the layer of “stuff”. In what ways can designers work on the level of structure or site? Is it through creating ideas and frameworks that last longer than the physical or digital artifacts that embody them?
I question this statement by Brand: “We can examine the array layer by layer, working down from the fast and attention-getting to the slow and powerful. Note that as people get older, their interests tend to migrate to the slower parts of the continuum. Culture is invisible to adolescents but a matter of great concern to elders. Adolescents are obsessed with fashion while elders are bored by it.” This seems, as someone who is 20 years old, awfully reductive of younger generations. Perhaps it’s influenced by our roles as designers – people who may be more likely to note changes in culture – but I would say that adolescents are capable of thoughtful analysis of culture as well as an appreciation of nature, something that Brand hints only older people care about.
  • Submit group comment/question.
  • 1-minute .Each student votes individually on 3 questions they would like to discuss here.
  •  We discuss as a class the most voted upon questions for nine minutes

 35 mins: In-class activity :: Personal futures.

Sometimes it is difficult to understand how the topics we discuss in futures relate to you personally. So in this exercise, you’ll explore something you are an expert in your own decisions about your futures. In the previous OLI exercises, you explored Sohail Inayatullah’s ideas around used futures, disowned futures, and so forth. 

So let us get personal!

7 minutes:  The Many Sad Fates of Mr. Toledano- personal futures

slides and work on it.

  • Step 1 (60 seconds)
  • Step 2 (60 seconds)
  • Step 3 (5 minutes)
  • Step 4 (10 minutes)
  • Turn in your copy of the slide for grading.

13:15pm Homework (a) Please do OLI page 26.  (b) finish steps 1-4 and submit a link to your work for grading.


Today you took someone you know very well and began to imagine what alternative futures might be for you based on some decisions you already made. My hope is that you see that the methods you are learning in this class can be applied to your own life and any other design situation you want to shape. 

Creative Commons License
Unless otherwise noted this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.