Futurism, fictional and science fictional – rambling and inspiring

Matt Webb — gnomic Internet thinker, mind hacker, and fictioneer — gave a beautiful talk to an Design Critical Theory MA class at London's Goldsmith College, entitled "Sci-fi I like, Fictional Futures, Goldsmiths." It's a 50-slide ramble through the futurism, real and science fictional, that inspires Matt. There are plenty of thought-provoking bits here, and lots of funny gracenotes — all in all worth a look, even if it is somewhat distractingly set up as fifty pages' worth of material with only a few paras per page (maybe he'll consolidate this into some meatier chunks — say, five or ten pages in all).

It's a control room from Project Cybersyn. In 1970–1973, the revolutionary Chilean government managed to recruit Stafford Beer, a cyberneticist who worked on the feedback loops of management in corporations. He was pretty famous at the time. They were designed by Gui Bonsiepe, a German modernist.

Anyway, the Chilean government called him up, and he built what he called "an electronic nervous system" connecting all parts of the country to the government.

It all worked by telex, and there were 7 seats in the control rooms because that was known to be the most efficient. The swivel chairs encouraged creativity.

These rooms would feed complaints, comments and statistics up and down to the government, and it meant a centrally planned economy actually worked, and the government could respond appropriately. Factories installed it on their floors, because they could tell the government what they needed, and it was liked centrally too because they had up-to-date stats the whole time. Feedback loops and cybernetics again!


(via MeFi)