After my hour-long talk at Media Future Week '13 last week in Almere, I had a chance to sit down and talk briefly with Monique van Dusseldorp about some of the key themes of the talk, about thick and thin depictions of the future, developing skills to anticipate and model possible futures, and big trends. The video for the full length talk, Beware of Flat-pack Futures, is here, and slides and a recap (in Dutch) are here. Hat tip to Noah, Justin, Tobias, Anab and Jon for their thinking, which I blended into the talk, and thanks to the MFW team and students for an enjoyable few days. Be sure to check out the students' work throughout the event as well.
I just posted a piece on Quartz about one security expert's view on the potential hackability of electric vehicle charging stations. As new, networked objects on the cityscape, EV chargers are potentially one of the next important information appliances, so their vulnerability is important to look at.
In the meantime, there also seems to be very little study of EV chargers as social objects and civic furniture. Though many EV stations seem unused and relatively pristine in the US, Europe’s networks are giving us a view of what the near future of EV networks looks like. A recent walk through the Amsterdam, the center of the Netherlands’ fast-growing EV market, indicated the EV charging networks are already getting humanized, with presumably disgruntled users marking some units as broken, and evident charging cable hacks, ranging from clever knots around side mirrors to coat-hangers carried around just to help keep cables from entangling others.
As the William Gibson quote goes, “the street finds its own uses for things,” and EVs, as part of the growing Internet-of-Things, are no exception.
The most recent issue of The Next Web magazine features a few words from me on why fashion of the future has historically been shown to be drab and monotonous, and why this won't actually be the case:
"Historical depictions of the future do always seem to forecast a frightening sameness to what we will be wearing—dull or shiny uniforms, with very similar fabrics, cuts and patterns, for example. Even if they don’t show jumpsuits or space suits (depending on how far back you go), depictions of everyday street clothes also have a homogenized feel—a dark 1940s inspired look in movies such as “Blade Runner” and “Gattaca,” for example. Some of this may be down to the implication that we will probably be living in a very mechanized, robotic, Big Brother world where we dress the same—like children—for our own good. It could also be a foreseen lack of resources, or lack of diversity of materials, for example.
In reality, we are actually seeing fashion coming into a new age of variety, not just of materials, but even in function. Not only are we able to produce an incredible array of synthetic materials and so-called smart fabrics through the application of nanotechnology, but we are already able to build other technologies into the fabric—such as light-conducting materials that can turn fabric into a display, or fabric embedded with fine sensors and flexible electronics that can sense body heat, heart rate, and so on. Throw on top of that the ability to 3D print “clothing,” integrate wearable technology such as computer chips, and even “grow” biological fabrics, and the arrow of variety seems to be pointing the opposite direction from monotonous or militaristic.
One of the important factors in these last few examples is that these are production processes—3D printing and “grown” clothing—that can happen locally, or even at home, adding that much more variety. These processes are a few years’ off from being mass market, but rapidly changing materials science, and the impact it will have on fashion and clothing, is already having an impact on Fashion Week runways, inspiring other designers to take up the challenge."
Click through to read the whole article, including views of Mark Earls, Ryan Holiday, and Louisa Heinrich. This is a topic we'll dive into more deeply in one of Europe's fashion capitals this summer at IED Barcelona's Futures Lab.