Accepted Paper:

Futures in the making:'Vernacular future' in smart technology makers  


Debora Lanzeni (Monash)
Elisenda Ardèvol (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya)

Paper short abstract:

Embracing that ethnography, in its way to produce knowledge, is an active part of world-making, we propose that instead of thinking of future as a consequence of technology development, we can grasp the ‘vernacular future’ by thinking with the smart technology makers and the things that they do.

Paper long abstract:

In STS studies future is often placed at the core of technology development. On the one hand, images of the future feed the practices that compound design processes (Nowotny, Williams, and Chun). On the other hand, the future is embedded in the design processes through anticipatory actions of what the world would be (Suchman, Anderson, and Kinsley).Finally, we can also say that actual design practices are future-driven practices, where the future is negotiated through different potential futures; so that the images of the future are talking about the present conflicts about what kind of society we want (Dourish, Bell, and Wajcman). This paper responds to the recent calls to embrace the analytical challenge posed by grasping "forms of action and agency through which the future is performed"(Brown and Michel, 2003). Future operates/acts in the construction of meanings, as a component of everyday practices, as a goal in the present, as a vector in the development of technology, as a descriptor of conflicting and hegemonic discourses, and so on. In this paper, we discuss the "vernacular future" in the process of smart technology design by drawing on ethnographic research with developers. We describe how embracing the "vernacular future" also actively produces it in the analytical and ethnographic practice. In this world, future emerges in the making. Instead of thinking the future as a consequence of technology development, we propose to think the future with the people and the things that they do.

Panel T028
Futures in the making and re-making