Making Futures

Making Futures: Marginal Notes on Innovation, Design, and Democracy

Pelle Ehn
Elisabet M. Nilsson
Richard Topgaard
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 392
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Making Futures
    Book Description:

    Innovation and design need not be about the search for a killer app. Innovation and design can start in people's everyday activities. They can encompass local services, cultural production, arenas for public discourse, or technological platforms. The approach is participatory, collaborative, and engaging, with users and consumers acting as producers and creators. It is concerned less with making new things than with making a socially sustainable future. This book describes experiments in innovation, design, and democracy, undertaken largely by grassroots organizations, non-governmental organizations, and multi-ethnic working-class neighborhoods. These stories challenge the dominant perception of what constitutes successful innovations. They recount efforts at social innovation, opening the production process, challenging the creative class, and expanding the public sphere. The wide range of cases considered include a collective of immigrant women who perform collaborative services, the development of an open-hardware movement, grassroots journalism, and hip-hop performances on city buses. They point to the possibility of democratized innovation that goes beyond solo entrepreneurship and crowdsourcing in the service of corporations to include multiple futures imagined and made locally by often-marginalized publics.ContributorsMåns Adler, Erling Björgvinsson, Karin Book, David Cuartielles, Pelle Ehn, Anders Emilson, Per-Anders Hillgren, Mads Hobye, Michael Krona, Per Linde, Kristina Lindström, Sanna Marttila, Elisabet M. Nilsson, Anna Seravalli, Pernilla Severson, Åsa Ståhl, Lucy Suchman, Richard Topgaard, Laura Watts

    eISBN: 978-0-262-32088-7
    Subjects: Art & Art History, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Pelle Ehn, Elisabet M. Nilsson and Richard Topgaard
  4. Prologue
    (pp. ix-xl)
    Laura Watts, Pelle Ehn and Lucy Suchman

    This prologue is carried by a Design Mailboat. It was originally destined for the opening of the 2012 Design and Displacement conference (organized by the Society for Social Studies of Science and the European Association for Studies of Science and Technology) in Copenhagen, where the exchange was performed. Here the Design Mailboat has been redirected, serving as a prologue to the coming marginal notes on innovation, design, and democracy. Mailboats are message-sized vessels, originally sent from remote islands to reach unknown shores, designed to carry words on the tide from one beach to another, to send questions and receive floating...

  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)
    Pelle Ehn, Elisabet M. Nilsson and Richard Topgaard

    Haur du sitt Malmö haur du sitt varden.This was an underdog slogan two decades ago, when the industrial town of Malmö in the south of Sweden was dismantled and its quarter of a million inhabitants were not doing well. Shipyard and plant closures, high unemployment, class and ethnic segregation, crises—no future. In strong colloquial and ironic language, the slogan said “If you have seen Malmö, you have seen the rest of the world.” This is the moment when the march toward a more sustainable city started. The bridge to the continent, the new university, the transformation of the...

  6. I Designing Conditions for the Social
    • 2 Designing Conditions for the Social
      (pp. 17-34)
      Anders Emilson

      In recent years, social innovation has been seen as a way to tackle climate change, aging populations, and social exclusion. The U.S. government (SICP 2012), the European Union (Hubert 2011), the Young Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation acknowledge social innovation as important. Nicholls and Murdock (2012, 1–2) consider social innovation to be a “sixth wave” of macro-innovation following more technology-based predecessors: the industrial revolution; steam and railways; steel, electricity, and heavy engineering; oil, automobiles, and mass production; and information and telecommunications. Design as a discipline emerged in parallel to these earlier waves of macro-innovations as a response to the...

    • 3 Designing in the Neighborhood: Beyond (and in the Shadow of) Creative Communities
      (pp. 35-62)
      Anders Emilson, Per-Anders Hillgren and Anna Seravalli

      Living Lab the Neighborhood was initiated to explore how a platform that could facilitate social innovation and collaborative services could be set up in the city of Malmö. Although a few strategic decisions were made (for example, to adopt a long-term perspective that could go beyond single projects, to take a very inclusive approach to participation, and to build the platform from the needs, capabilities, and assets of local communities), the intention was that the platform should be designed and redesigned continuously in relation to what it encountered.

      The platform is labeled as aliving lab, a concept that originated...

    • 4 Connecting with the Powerful Strangers: From Governance to Agonistic Design Things
      (pp. 63-84)
      Anders Emilson and Per-Anders Hillgren

      It is afternoon in Malmö’s city hall. We are two design researchers, waiting outside a meeting room to make a presentation of what we can offer in the process of exploring what an incubator for social innovation in Malmö can be. We will meet with a group of civil servants responsible for trade, industry, and economic growth. The door opens and a man exits, having finished his presentation. Later we will realize that we have just met one of the “powerful strangers”—actors with “larger portions of money, authority and access” (Westley, Zimmerman, and Patton 2007, 99)—who will have major roles...

  7. II Opening Production—Design and Commons
    • 5 Opening Production: Design and Commons
      (pp. 87-98)
      Sanna Marttila, Elisabet M. Nilsson and Anna Seravalli

      In recent years, new ways have arisen for organizing and carrying out production in open and collaborative fashions. Hereopen productionrefers to all value creation, either of intangible (immaterial, digital) or tangible (material, physical) resources, done through open and collaborative processes. It is open in that it encourages broader participation in which users often become producers, relying on some forms of sharedcommons.It iscollaborativein that its sustainability is based on generating new social bonds and alliances, i.e., social capital. Processes of open production often tend to happen outside of traditional social and economic structures, and...

    • 6 While Waiting for the Third Industrial Revolution: Attempts at Commoning Production
      (pp. 99-130)
      Anna Seravalli

      It is Thursday evening at STPLN, a makerspace located in an industrial building in Malmö. Davey is helping some newcomers with the milling machine. Chris and Frank are working on an old vending machine, trying to make it suitable for selling hardware boards. Someone else is mending a flat bike tire. In the textile corner, Luisa is teaching one of the hackers how to crochet. Quinn is in the kitchen, preparing food for tomorrow’s catering. Some of the regulars are sitting on the sofa testing a robot they recently built. Jonathan is playing a cello he built from scrap material....

    • 7 Playing with Fire: Collaborating through Digital Sketching in a Creative Community
      (pp. 131-152)
      Mads Hobye

      Figure 7.1, a photograph taken at the 2008 Roskilde Festival in Denmark, shows a huge flame exploding from the top of what looks like a cross between the Eiffel Tower and an old oil rig. Two hundred people—some playing big drums made out of water tanks, some cheering, some dancing around the tower—participated in the event. There was a loud uproar right until the explosion. Afterwards, there was silence until the noise returned and another explosion occurred. Each cycle lasted about 15 minutes, and the cycles repeated for five consecutive days. How this project and many others came...

    • 8 How Deep Is Your Love? On Open-Source Hardware
      (pp. 153-170)
      David Cuartielles

      This chapter looks at the history of open-source hardware design from the viewpoint of one of the creators of the Arduino project. Arduino is an open-source hardware platform that can be programmed from free IDE (Integrated Development Environment) software and comes with Creative Commons licensed documentation. According to many observers, it has changed how many people think about the way products can be licensed in order to reach the market.

      Half academic experiment and half product, Arduino keeps on challenging business models around hardware as well as the fields touched by it, including educational tools and connected objects (the so-called...

  8. III Creative Class Struggles
    • 9 Creative Class Struggles
      (pp. 173-186)
      Erling Björgvinsson and Pernilla Severson

      The emerging of the labelscreative industriesandcreative classis a policy-driven and powerful story of future-making that plays a big part as both the stage and the locality of the stories in this part of the book. The chapters in this part discuss creative workers, sometimes determined to belong to the creative class working in the creative industries. Specifically, they deal with designers, artists, prosumers, and researchers who together explore new ways of producing and engaging in cultural productions. Stories on creative industries, as future-making industries, are as multitudinous and diverse as they are embossed with ideology. Oakley...

    • 10 The Making of Cultural Commons: Nasty Old Film Distribution and Funding
      (pp. 187-226)
      Erling Björgvinsson

      On October 10, 2009, the independently financed filmNasty Old Peoplebecame the first Swedish feature film to be distributed for free under a Creative Commons license through the peer-to-peer file-sharing service The Pirate Bay. In conjunction with the release, a viral marketing strategy and donation campaign was launched. The launch, the campaign, and the donation came about because of a collaboration, enabled by the Living Lab the Stage, between the media production companies Tangram and Good, The Pirate Bay, and university researchers and students. Within five days, the film had been downloaded 14,000 times, translated by volunteers into thirteen...

    • 11 Collaborative Design and Grassroots Journalism: Public Controversies and Controversial Publics
      (pp. 227-256)
      Erling Björgvinsson

      Many hoped that the advent of networked media would lead to the democratization of media. Media being central to democratic practices, there was also hope that more democratized media, in turn, would nurture civic engagement that would lead to more distributed and democratic decision making. Now that we have lived with networked media for some time, belief in the democratic potential of networked media has diminished. New media public spheres quickly develop their own hierarchies, and small elites control the debates. The impact of these new practices and public spheres on the larger media landscape is often meager and easily...

    • 12 Stories on Future-Making in Everyday Practices from Managers in the Creative Industries
      (pp. 257-266)
      Pernilla Severson

      In many ways this book is a reaction to Eric von Hippel’s assertions that democratic innovation enables users to develop “exactly what they want, rather than relying on manufacturers to act as their (often very imperfect) agents” and that users can “benefit from innovations developed and freely shared by others” (2005, 11). Most of the chapters in the present book respond to this view of innovation with stories of design experiments in which marginalized groups in society participated in alternative kinds of design and innovation. The “Scandinavian collective designer” is the ideal type to ignite and lead an alternative future-making:...

  9. IV Emerging Publics
    • 13 Emerging Publics: Totem-Poling the ‘We’s and ‘Me’s of Citizen Participation
      (pp. 269-276)
      Per Linde

      Almost a century ago, a debate on the relation between new emerging technologies and the constitution of publics took place between Walter Lippmann and John Dewey. Marres (2005) states that at the time it was often assumed that complexities related to new technology for communication, as well as transport and manufacturing, were a threat to the democratic society. The remedy, many thought, would be to simplify. Although Lippmann and Dewey debated from different perspectives, they both argued that strange, unfamiliar, and entangled objects are the conditions for public engagement and for public affairs to arise, rather than a threat. A...

    • 14 Performing the City: Exploring the Bandwidth of Urban Place-Making through New-Media Tactics
      (pp. 277-302)
      Per Linde and Karin Book

      Discourses on political participation, urban studies, innovation, and ICT development are becoming more and more entangled. Although social and cultural studies have recognized the importance of material entities in organizing and performing civic engagement for quite some time (see, for example, Marres 2011), we can also observe how the notion ofpublicsis gaining more and more influence in the fields of design and technological development (see, for example, Le Dantec 2012). Within the context of urbanity, much falls into the realm of “smart cities,” but the notion of “smart” is contested. We have heard about the number of people...

    • 15 Publics-in-the-Making: Crafting Issues in a Mobile Sewing Circle
      (pp. 303-322)
      Kristina Lindström and Åsa Ståhl

      In this chapter we will explore the potentialities ofpublics-in-the-making—that is, publics that come out of making things together and that are continuously reconfigured by their participants, human and nonhuman. The potentialities of such public engagement will be explored throughThreads—a Mobile Sewing Circle,a traveling exhibition in which people are invited to embroider a message received by means of SMS, either by hand or with an embroidery machine connected to a mobile phone with bespoke software. This is an invitation to stitch together different kinds of technologies, temporalities, materialities, practices, and participants. What makes participants gather in...

    • 16 Emerging Publics and Interventions in Democracy
      (pp. 323-344)
      Michael Krona and Måns Adler

      Technological innovation, design, and development is often aimed at providing improvements for people and contribute to a progressive society, even though history tells us that fears of new technology are as common as the optimistic visions of the same. Discourses surrounding the development of radio, television, and the Internet have shared these dichotomous notions of what a new technology may portend. However, when the idea of democratizing live video broadcasting emerged and was implemented through Bambuser, visionary, idealistic, and optimistic notions set the tone. Bambuser was developed with the mission to democratize a technology that back in 2006 was available...

  10. List of Contributors
    (pp. 345-348)
  11. Index
    (pp. 349-352)