Abstract

Arising from the complex relationship between their physical affordances, digital shadows, and interconnections, the things which make up the ‘Internet of Things’ (the IoT) present designers, users, and society at large, with a range of unique and as-yet- unfamiliar forms of network-contingent agency. These new design spaces engender new forms network anxiety, that in turn can result in a range of ill effects including overstimulation, information overload, and paranoia. Contemporary philosophies of technology provide a theoretical base with which designers can temper these emergent techno-anxieties with a sort of scholarly comfort blanket, however, closing the loop between such theories and design practice so that one explicitly informs the other remains a rarely-tackled and elusive challenge within design research. To help explore how designers may underpin their practice with philosophical foundations, in this paper we recount our own experience of conducting an IoT-based Speculative Design project. This research attempts to encode, enact, and express ideas derived from a contemporary philosophical movement—Object Oriented Ontology (OOO)— and ‘Carpenter’ those ideas into designed artefacts using the Design Fiction as World Building approach to Speculative Design. To ‘turn’ a physical material—wood, metal or plastic—means reshaping the material with a lathe to afford it a tangible elegance and grace. Metaphorically speaking, in this paper, OOO is our material and Design Fiction is our lathe, we reflect on the process of sculpting and carving theory, lending shape and poise to OOO through Design Fiction enabled Carpentry.

Keywords:

internet of things; object-oriented ontology; speculative design; design fiction

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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Jun 25th, 12:00 AM

Turning Philosophy with a Speculative Lathe: object-oriented ontology, carpentry, and design fiction

Arising from the complex relationship between their physical affordances, digital shadows, and interconnections, the things which make up the ‘Internet of Things’ (the IoT) present designers, users, and society at large, with a range of unique and as-yet- unfamiliar forms of network-contingent agency. These new design spaces engender new forms network anxiety, that in turn can result in a range of ill effects including overstimulation, information overload, and paranoia. Contemporary philosophies of technology provide a theoretical base with which designers can temper these emergent techno-anxieties with a sort of scholarly comfort blanket, however, closing the loop between such theories and design practice so that one explicitly informs the other remains a rarely-tackled and elusive challenge within design research. To help explore how designers may underpin their practice with philosophical foundations, in this paper we recount our own experience of conducting an IoT-based Speculative Design project. This research attempts to encode, enact, and express ideas derived from a contemporary philosophical movement—Object Oriented Ontology (OOO)— and ‘Carpenter’ those ideas into designed artefacts using the Design Fiction as World Building approach to Speculative Design. To ‘turn’ a physical material—wood, metal or plastic—means reshaping the material with a lathe to afford it a tangible elegance and grace. Metaphorically speaking, in this paper, OOO is our material and Design Fiction is our lathe, we reflect on the process of sculpting and carving theory, lending shape and poise to OOO through Design Fiction enabled Carpentry.

 

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