18 Apr

Design Fiction has been on my mind as of late. Particularly after hearing Bruce Sterling’s thinking about it’s role in experience design, product innovation and technology as well as other’s speaking from a designers point of view at SXSW 2010.

What follows is a design fiction exercise, wrapping a narrative around thoughts about the weird, wired world we live in and the tremendous social implications it has for possible futures.  William Gibson I’m not, but digest this and tell me what you think it means to us now and possibly what it could mean for the evolution of the web.   Indulge me while I surf through themes of the social web, digital immortality, privacy, an open data world, artificial intelligence and more, not in a blog post commentary but instead in a blurb of storytelling.

I’m Jack Meta and I’m a repo man of the digital conscience.

Let me give you the 30 second update. Life got pretty weird for the bio-brains soon after the AI-Data Flux. Once the open-conscious hippies broke the Googleplex server-farm wall and data burst through the behavioral floodgates, meatspace humanity found itself standing around more naked than a politician post-sex scandal. Funny that nobody saw their personal Peyton Place hidden in all those facebook posts, tweets and ISP logs long ago. Just plain stupid that nobody figured their conscious would get reassembled from all that data, through code lumps that algorithm-geeks created in their hobbyist spare time. You can be damn sure no one would want think about little Bobby and Sue talking to your long “dead”, pixellated great grandood-self in a kitsch retro-quaint Ed Hardy shirt, your abrupt and embarrassing re-entry into the world 70 years into the future. They didn’t think of any of this, not until open-data and uber-AI hit them in the skull like a mallet anyway.

But I’m a bitstream myself, so far be it for me to judge what the bio-cell’s thought about the weird world of digital immortality back in the day. I’m just here to clean up their act once they hit the biological brick wall and surrender their brains and personal lifestream to the meta-sphere.

What’s my game? I’m an identity moving van pulling up to my client’s scattered persona-attics to steal back their life in little bits and bytes. Then I spit polish, metatag and redflag pieces of digital conscience so it ain’t so boring, confusing or just plain dirty once it hits the AI’s. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not much of a combinatorial artist so I leave your final coming out party good-looks to my persona stylist biz partners. It seems the cyberpunk jokers that plugged me into the meta-sphere to do this job secretly watched antique’s roadshow a hundred years back. Surfing through the digital-conscience flea market is in my genes.

Anyhoo, good meeting you mate and welcome to the ‘sphere. I can tell you’ll get the hang of things pretty quick once you shake that linear, cerebral cortex processing hangover. I’ve gotta get back to work to pull this boring assignment. Mundane crap I tell ya and a pisser given it hit my approval cue right before the Charlie Sheen assignment of a lifetime hit the market. Just my luck. Now that would’ve been hella more hilarious than this grey haired, tech-fetish archival and family photo-pixel antique show.

See you ‘round. And remember, watch where you leave your digital droppings now that you’re back in action.

More on design fiction:

Near Futures Lab

Interactions Magazine

An Essay on Design Fiction