Interesting call for papers via Joe Lindley

We are inviting real submissions that describe fictional papers and workshops. Practically speaking, we would like you to submit a title of a fictional paper or workshop, along with a list of authors (authors may be real or fictional), and a set of up to 4 keywords.

We are primarily interested in fictional papers and workshops that reflect on the future of Design Fiction research. From a future perspective, what will the impact of the current increase of interest in fictional research be in the long term? How will it change the research landscape, if at all? Paper concepts could include (but are not limited to) ideas on:

  • Arguments on how to evaluate the quality of Design Fiction
  • Reports of Lost Futures and Counterfactual Histories
  • Analyses of the relative importance of data and narrative
  • Analyses of how fiction is used instrumentally in scientific papers
  • Accounts of interaction with fictional systems (fictional user research)

Examples of paper titles could be:

  • “Implications for Design Fiction: Reflecting on fiction-gate”
  • “Where the Fiction Is: is Bruce Sterling HCI’s new Heidegger?”
  • “Is empirical research necessary as long as the story is compelling? And how do we know how compelling a story is?”

The papers and research should be fictional, however we may contact successful authors for additional commentary after the notification period.

HOW TO SUBMIT:
Please submit paper/workshop titles, with authors and keywords, in plain text, via email to papers@fictionalconference.com before 23:59 (UTC) 8th April 2016. (See key deadlines to the right)

All submissions will go through a rigorous fictional review process.
As the proceedings are fictional they will not be archived, however we intend to publish the conference programme as part of the “Future Scenarios” track at NordiCHI 2016.

— Fictive Futures: Exploring Future Research Agendas —
* Submission Deadline: Friday, February 12, 2016 *

Decisions Announced: Friday, April 22, 2016

GROUP Conference at Sanibel Island, FL: November 13-16, 2016

We seek submissions that imagine possible futures for research on the relationships between computers and people. Submissions will include two portions: a fictional document related to the conduct of research and an author statement about the document.

The fictional document could be an extended abstract, a call for papers, an excerpt from API documentation, a book review, a study protocol for IRB review, or any other relevant type. The author statement should connect that document to current events, cite on-going research in the field, or otherwise extrapolate how the envisioned future might arise from our given present. This statement will be especially important for abstracts (which are too short to explain their rationale), API documentations (which typically do not provide a historical rationale), and other documents that on their own may be exceptionally short and/or vague.

Because Design Fictions are archival contributions, we recommend a minimum length of 3 pages (notes), and as many as 10 pages (papers), following the ACM Standard Format. The reviewing process will be the same as the general track, and Design Fiction papers or notes will be included in the proceedings.

Design Fiction submissions must be completed online at the GROUP 2016 conference site: https://precisionconference.com/~group/

I’m organising a design fiction event in Manchester on September 16th, with James Duggan and Joseph Lindley. It’ll be great. You can register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-fiction-future-of-faculty-an-afternoon-of-sociological-design-fiction-tickets-18169546603

The ability of storytelling to help us envision and discuss a gamut of plausible futures, from dystopian visions to everyday utopias, is increasingly being harnessed using the nascent practice of ‘design fiction’. Design fiction, a term coined by author Bruce Sterling, “tells worlds not stories”. Although inspired by sci-fi, design fiction is less about the “hocus pocus” of far-flung techno-futures, and instead is more practical, hands-on, and mundane. Design fictions extrapolate from current data, trends, research and technologies, not in an attempt to predict the future, but to interrogate the plurality of plausible futures by forging a discursive space form which insights may emerge. This session will explore how design fiction can help us illuminate preferable, or indeed undesirable, futures of academia.

The university is a site of managerial and neoliberal transformation, with increased applications of competitive logics and performative technologies to re-define academia and academic practice. There are however examples of resistance and hope, with everyday utopian experiments such as the Social Science Centre, Lincoln. In this exploratory session, we use design fiction as an approach for exploring the potential for change latent within  current circumstances, through contrasting utopian and dsytopian visions for the future of higher education.

If you are interested in the future of the University and academic practice, or if you have a position or provocation to share, then please come and join us. During the session we will present two contrasting visions of the academy in 2020, one dystopic and one utopian. These positions will provide the foundations for a broader conversation about the future and design fiction. We will unpack questions such as can design fiction inform a better future for Universities? Are dystopian or utopian visions of the future more likely to help us get to a better future? What is ‘better’ anyway?

I’m organising a design fiction event in Manchester on September 16th, with James Duggan and Joseph Lindley. It’ll be great. You can register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-fiction-future-of-faculty-an-afternoon-of-sociological-design-fiction-tickets-18169546603

The ability of storytelling to help us envision and discuss a gamut of plausible futures, from dystopian visions to everyday utopias, is increasingly being harnessed using the nascent practice of ‘design fiction’. Design fiction, a term coined by author Bruce Sterling, “tells worlds not stories”. Although inspired by sci-fi, design fiction is less about the “hocus pocus” of far-flung techno-futures, and instead is more practical, hands-on, and mundane. Design fictions extrapolate from current data, trends, research and technologies, not in an attempt to predict the future, but to interrogate the plurality of plausible futures by forging a discursive space form which insights may emerge. This session will explore how design fiction can help us illuminate preferable, or indeed undesirable, futures of academia.

The university is a site of managerial and neoliberal transformation, with increased applications of competitive logics and performative technologies to re-define academia and academic practice. There are however examples of resistance and hope, with everyday utopian experiments such as the Social Science Centre, Lincoln. In this exploratory session, we use design fiction as an approach for exploring the potential for change latent within  current circumstances, through contrasting utopian and dsytopian visions for the future of higher education.

If you are interested in the future of the University and academic practice, or if you have a position or provocation to share, then please come and join us. During the session we will present two contrasting visions of the academy in 2020, one dystopic and one utopian. These positions will provide the foundations for a broader conversation about the future and design fiction. We will unpack questions such as can design fiction inform a better future for Universities? Are dystopian or utopian visions of the future more likely to help us get to a better future? What is ‘better’ anyway?

 

This looks really interesting. If I had less on in June, I’d be tempted to submit a paper for this in order to try and develop some of my thoughts on design fiction and sociological writing:

Biography and/as Experimental Fiction

5 June 2015
Goldsmiths, University of London
Richard Hoggart Building, Room 137

This one-day conference deals with intersections of biography and/as experimental fiction in the 20th and 21st centuries. While for scientists an experiment is a common way of proving or disproving a hypothesis and thus of arriving at certainties, fiction writers have long been demonstrating that literary experiments tend to have the opposite effect: they open up alternative and multiple ways of reading and pose new epistemological challenges. Similar experimental tendencies can be identified in 20th and 21st century biography, which has seen a proliferation in narratives that disrupt conventional generic expectations and question, or even satirize, traditional modes of representation, often overtly crossing over into the domain of fiction as they tell a historical character’s story. From Woolf’s and Stein’s modernist experiments in biography to Amia Lieblich’s Conversations with Dvora written as imaginary dialogue, from A.J.A. Symons’s meta-biographical Quest for Corvo to Manuel Vázquez Montalbán’s self-searching Autobiografía del general Franco and Janice Galloway’s typographically conspicuous biofiction of Clara Wieck Schumann, writers have extended the range of the biographical through formal innovations commonly associated with the fictional mode. If experimentation has been a staple diet of fiction writers and a defining criterion of much canonical fiction for centuries, the “battle for ‘experimental’ biography”, Carole Angier argues, “has to be fought anew in every generation” as positivist Victorian values prevail to this day (The Arvon Book of Life Writing 58).

This conference will look at narratives about historical characters that constitute innovative explorations of biography’s formal possibilities in their respective cultural and historical contexts. We welcome papers that explore the insights generated by such texts, consider what is gained by specific biographical-fictional experiments and where – as experiments are sometimes prone to – they fail or fall short.

Organisers:
Dr. Julia Lajta-Novak, University of Salzburg
Prof. Lucia Boldrini, Goldsmiths, University of London

Keynote speakers:
Janice Galloway
(Scottish novelist, librettist, poet, author of short fiction)
Prof. Max Saunders
(Director of the Centre for Life-Writing Research, King’s College London)

Please email your abstract (250 words) + brief CV and academic affiliation to Julia.Lajta-Novak@sbg.ac.at by 13 April 2015.

Delegates will be informed whether their paper has been included in the programme by 16 April 2015.

We plan to publish selected papers from the conference.

Attendance will be free of charge. Light refreshments will be provided.
Programme, travel and registration information will be published at
http://www.gold.ac.uk/ecl/events/biography-and-as-experimental-fiction/.

I recently stumbled across this old* Huffington Post article by James Bloodworth, editor of Left Foot Forward, speculating about what a British fascism would look like. I don’t think it’s actually very good but it’s a fascinating question to ponder.

And yet, were a far-Right government ever to win power in Britain – and never get too complacent, for a Searchlight poll last February found a staggeringly high number of voters who said they would be prepared to vote for party of the far-Right if it renounced violence – what might it do in its first year of power?

This is pure speculation of course, but interesting all the same, I think.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/james-bloodworth/british-fascism-what-would-british-fascis_b_1454971.html

One of my favourite works of fiction in recent years was Dominion by C.J. Sansom which depicts a Britain that surrendered in World War 2 and has become a satellite state of Nazi Germany. I found it much more plausible than Bloodworth’s speculations but perhaps that’s in part due to gradually showing this world over 500 pages rather than baldly stating it in a 1500 word blog post.

Thanks to Danny Birchall for sharing this film – “It Happened Here”:

There’s also a 2004 documentary drama which addressed this question: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NnsRCt8TGM (embedding disabled)

I wonder if counter-factual drama of this sort can be included within the remit of design fiction for digital public sociology?

*Well 2012. I’m not sure when that became ‘old’.

Design fiction is a term first coined by Julian Bleecker and popularized by SF author Bruce Sterling, who describes it as “the deliberate use of diegetic prototypes to suspend disbelief about change.” and that it “attacks the status quo and suggests clear ways in which life might become different.”

Design fiction isn’t science fiction, it’s not just a telling of stories in the future or trying to make predictions of the future, instead it is a way of trying to envision and interrogate possible futures based on research data, current trends, and/or technologies. Originally, primarily used by product designers as a cheap alternative to prototyping new products, it has found traction as a critical tool allowing us to see through the fog of hype and digital evangelism. 

In this event Tim Maughan introduces design fiction for sociologists. He discusses the work he is undertaking with Sava Saheli Singh (New York University) and its possible implications for how we write about research.

Keith Kahn-Harris will discuss his new project which looks at how kinds of mainstream texts other than science fiction also generate ’social science fictions’, often ‘accidentally’ as a result of the pragmatic requirements of generating workable plots and scenarios. Such texts can help force attention to a neglected sociological question: what are the limits of possibility in human society?

Sarah Burton will also speak on a topic to be finalised.

Les Back and Mark Carrigan will each offer a short response before the event is opened up for a general discussion.

Eventbrite - Design Fiction for Sociologists

I was fortunate to meet Tim Maughan at the Digital Sociology conference in New York last month. Along with Sava Saheli Singh, he’s been exploring how design fiction can be used to communicate sociological ideas. This is how Sava and Tim describe design fiction:

Design fiction is a term first coined by Julian Bleecker and popularized by SF author Bruce Sterling, who describes it as “the deliberate use of diegetic prototypes to suspend disbelief about change.” and that it “attacks the status quo and suggests clear ways in which life might become different.”

Design fiction isn’t science fiction, it’s not just a telling of stories in the future or trying to make predictions of the future, instead it is a way of trying to envision and interrogate possible futures based on research data, current trends, and/or technologies. Originally, primarily used by product designers as a cheap alternative to prototyping new products, it has found traction as a critical tool allowing us to see through the fog of hype and digital evangelism. 

I find this idea really exciting and I invited Tim to give a talk when he visits London. If you’d like to come then you can register here. It’s a free event that will take place at Goldsmiths on the afternoon of May 13th. I’ll be talking, as will Les Back, Keith Kahn-Harris and Sarah Burton.

Eventbrite - Design Fiction for Sociologists

In the meantime, here’s a great example of the work produced by Tim:

For a workshop on future London, five individuals — Arup, Social Life, Re.Work, Commonplace, Tim Maughan and Nesta—created 10 Future Londoners for the year 2023. This is a short fictional piece describing the working day of 19 year old Nicki, a zero hours retail contractor.

https://medium.com/@timmaughan/zero-hours-f68f17e8c12a

Here’s an example of what Sava and Tim have worked on together:

People talk about the future of technology in education as though it’s right around the corner, but most of us get to that corner and see it disappearing around the next. This innovation-obsessed cycle continues as we are endlessly dissatisfied with how little difference these promises make to the people implicated in these futures. These products and practices, cloaked in the latest buzzwords and jargon, often trickle down to non-western geographic regions after they’ve been tried and rejected, yet still adopted as the new and advanced “western” methodology that will solve the “problem” of education.

In an attempt to cut through the relentless TED Talk-like optimism of ed tech marketing, this year at the HASTAC conference in Peru we presented a series of fictional case studies. These four design fiction based personas aimed to illustrate the possible impact on society and education, in both positive and negative ways, of not just emerging technologies but also global social and economic trends. They give brief snapshots of the lives of individuals in imagined futures from different geographic, ethnic, economic, and cultural backgrounds, illustrating how each of them might interface and interact with the different technologies.

https://medium.com/futures-exchange/the-future-of-ed-tech-is-here-its-just-not-evenly-distributed-210778a423d7