Strange Telemetry is a London-based research and design consultancy whose work with organizations, including government agencies, is used to “illuminate the contexts in which technologies are imagined, built, used, and controlled.”[i] The company is itself a cooperative, owned and managed by its worker-members. According to the Strange Telemetry website, the process involves “developing speculative prototypes and designs that can be taken to clients and publics as a way of stimulating debate and critical thinking. This is part of our larger aim to materialise and utilise speculative and critical design in new contexts and applications.”[ii]
In 2015, Strange Telemetry engaged in a project with the UK Government Office for Science in what was the first application of speculative design for formulating UK government policy. The purpose of the project was to explore challenges and opportunities of an aging society to determine how the government could best steer resources for appropriate technological development. Through a number of workshops with residents in multiple cities, the designers facilitated discussion and debate around “possible developments in employment, services, and transport over a 25-year time horizon.”[iii] By building images and prototypes of possible work environments, public spaces, and urban transit systems, the group used design to prompt discussion and debate, which could then be used to shape policy—a true merger of speculative and participatory design practices for public benefit. This approach to setting agendas for technological development is diametrically different from the typical capitalist model, in which decisions for technological innovation are made internal to corporate interests, and the innovation is usually later sold or licensed to public organizations as customers.
[i] Strange Telemetry, “About Strange Telemetry,” accessed June 16, 2021, https://www.strangetelemetry.com/about.
[ii] Strange Telemetry, “About Strange Telemetry.”
[iii] Strange Telemetry, “Senescence: Speculative Design at the Policy Interface,” accessed June 16, 2021, https://www.strangetelemetry.com/projects#/speculativedesignandageing
see also: https://www.strangetelemetry.com/
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