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Utopia/Dystopia: Inspiring The Next Digital Native

All design requires some speculation by predicting an individual’s uncertain reaction. But what of design that teaches a lesson by speculating on what our future might look like? Orwell and Huxley have warned generations of readers with their various dystopian views of the world. Contemporary artists such as The Yes Men and Steve Lambert have taken a utopian approach, asking individuals to consider what their perfect defense budget may look like or designing a New York Times homepage for the wishful-thinking crowd.
Millennials have had the chance to consider the advancements and consequences of the digital revolution, a time when new media have been infused into every element of society. As the next generation of digital natives come into their own as influencers, is it best to preach hope or despair when warning of the ramifications of their decisions? This debate style panel will consider each approach, providing examples of projects which test both sides.

Additional Supporting Materials


  1. What is the speculative design method?
  2. What value does the speculative design method bring to a designer's work and—just as importantly—those who see/use it?
  3. What are some examples of speculative design that have permeated the cultural fabric across generations and what can we learn from them?
  4. What is the relationship between speculative design and speculative literature?
  5. When does a designer cross the line between utopia and dystopia?



Gabi Schaffzin, Graduate Student, Dynamic Media Institute at MassArt

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