What is "design fiction?"

Press Pictures: Copyright 
Siemens press photos may only be used for editorial purposes. The copyrights belong to Siemens AG, Munich/Berlin, and remain undiminished if the pictures are incorporated into an archive, either electronically or manually. Pictures used for editorial purposes, modified, duplicated and/or electronically altered must bear the credit "Siemens press picture". Commercial use or sale of the pictures and data, even in electronically manipulated form, is prohibited.

I've been writing "design fiction" for years (see, for example, Knights of the Rainbow Table), and when people ask me to explain it, I say something like, "An engineer might make a prototype to give you a sense of how something works; an architect will do a fly-through to give you a sense of its spatial properties; fiction writers produce design fiction to give you a sense of how a technology might feel." Read the rest

Design fiction, the Internet of Women's things, and futurism

050 056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8e96df290c5-1020x1196

Jasmina Tesanovic (previously) and Bruce Sterling did a residency at The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UCSD, working with the students on design fiction and futurism. Read the rest

8-Bit Cinema: great films reimagined as classic video games

animation (1)

We've featured David Dutton's 8-Bit Cinema many times over the past 8 years, but this astounding showreel demonstrates that his canon is wider, deeper and cooler that you might realize. Read the rest

To hell with the Trolley Problem: here's a much more interesting list of self-driving car weirdnesses

animation

Jan Chipchase has assembled a provocative, imaginative, excellent list of "driver behaviors in a world of autonomous mobility" that go far beyond the lazy exercise of porting the "trolley problem" to self-driving cars and other autonomous vehicles, including flying drones. Read the rest

Frankenstein turns 200 this year: write a short story, win cool prizes

animation

Arizona State University, Nanowrimo, and the Chabot Science Center are commemorating the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein with a series of events, including a short-story contest judged by Elizabeth Bear. Read the rest

Charlie Stross talks science fiction and policy in DC next week

DC Sci Fi Photo
My former EFF colleague Kevin Bankston writes, "For Boing Boing readers in the Washington DC area, here’s a great event: this coming Tuesday, science fiction writer (and Cory's occasional collaborator) Charlie Stross will be doing a happy hour interview at think tank New America. He’ll be talking about cross-pollination between science fiction and real tech and policy with Kevin Bankston, who runs New America’s tech policy shop the Open Technology Institute." Read the rest

Boston Globe previews a front page from the Trump presidency

056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8e96df290c5-1020x1042

The Boston Globe's front page today is a piece of design fiction that offers a glimpse of the first days of a Trump presidency, with headlines like "DEPORTATIONS TO BEGIN: President Trump calls for tripling of ICE force; riots continue"; "Curfews extended in multiple cities"; "Markets sink as trade war looms"; "US soldiers refuse orders to kill ISIS families"; and many sly digs, including the news that "NASA engineers halted the launch of an unmanned probe amid fears that its new gold leaf trim would interfere with radio communications." Read the rest

A perfect storm of broken business and busted FLOSS backdoors everything, so who needs the NSA?

animation

In 2014, Poul-Henning Kamp, a prolific and respected contributor to many core free/open projects gave the closing keynote at the Free and Open Source Developers' European Meeting (FOSDEM) in Belgium, and he did something incredibly clever: he presented a status report on a fictional NSA project (ORCHESTRA) whose mission was to make it cheaper to spy on the Internet without breaking any laws or getting any warrants. Read the rest

Backslash: a toolkit for protesters facing hyper-militarized, surveillance-heavy police

056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8e96df290c5-1020x905

Backslash -- an "art/design" project from NYU Interactive Technology Program researchers Xuedi Chen and Pedro G. C. Oliveira -- is a set of high-tech tools for protesters facing down a "hyper-militarized," surviellance-heavy state adversary, including a device to help protesters keep clear of police kettles; a jammer to foil Stingray mobile-phone surveillance; a mesh-networking router; a "personal cloud" that tries to mirror photos and videos from a protest to an offsite location; and tools for covertly signalling situational reports to other protesters. Read the rest

Near-future Ikea catalog: the Internet of Things' flat-pack as a service

IkeaCatalog_1024x1024

Julian Bleecker and his Near Future Laboratory have followed up on their amazing Skymall-of-the-future catalog with an imaginary near-future Ikea catalog that jam an insane amount of witty futuristic speculation into elegantly presented, arresting images.

Read the rest

Walt Disney's plan for the FBI of tomorrow

walt.jpg.1200x400_q85_crop

Michael from Muckrock: "Union-busting Walt Disney became cozy with J. Edgar Hoover, the iconic animator's FBI files show, helping shut down dissident workers while infusing Disney programming with fond portrayals of federal enforcement. Disney even wanted to dedicate a special section of Tomorrowland to highlighting the Bureau of tomorrow -- which ended up being a step too far for America's head investigative agency." Read the rest

Digital rights news from 2025

European Digital Rights has published 300 Edrigrams -- crucial newsletters on all things digital in the EU -- and to celebrate, the 300th edition features 37 pages of news from the year 2025. Read the rest

Smart Pipe: a design fiction from the Internet of Things dystopia

11 minutes seems like a long ask for a gag video about an Internet-of-Things toilet-analyzer, but man, is it worth it. Read the rest

TBD: appreciating a catalog of the banal gadgets of tomorrow

David already posted about the amazing TBD Catalog, which is filled with "design fiction" about the devices of the future; but I just read it and I need to rave about it. Read the rest

Madeline Ashby's Hieroglyph story: "By the Time We Get To Arizona"

The Hieroglyph anthology was created by Neal Stephenson, challenging sf writers to imagine futures where ambitious technological projects improved the human condition. Read the rest

TBD: A SkyMall catalog of the future

Julian Bleecker and his Near Future Laboratory created the smart and provocative TBD Catalog that is essentially a science fiction SkyMall catalog.

Read the rest

Salami cultured from celebrity muscle tissue

Bitelabs wants you to tweet your favorite celeb and ask them to submit to a biopsy so that they can culture salami from their muscle tissue, allowing you to experience celebs in a way you never have before. "The Franco salami must be smoky, sexy, and smooth... The Franco salami’s taste will be arrogant, distinctive, and completely undeniable." Nutritional information: "coming soon." Read the rest

More posts