Extreme Futures with Overijssel Province

Ah, what an excellent news to start the year with! Our proposal for a Future Probing project Trendbureau Overijssel was approved and will be running the program with them later this spring.

It’s a great news in a number of ways: the work with governmental organisations is always an honour and stuff… but it is also always very difficult to get (or at least it takes a lot of time). In this case the approval of our proposal happened relatively quickly – also because our commissioner had a first-hand experience of Future Probing already!

Earlier in 2016 Hans Peter Benschop, a head of the Trendbureau, participated in our Summer School about Future Probing method. Despite the exercise was very basic, it was interesting and inspiring, to the extend that he later invited us to submit a proposal for a Future Probing program with this Dutch province.

And a cherry on a pie is the title of the program -Extreme Overijssel! Summ( )n was invited to facilitate the exploration of the fresh and novel ideas about the possible futures, beyond the today’s ‘trend litany’. A thrillingly interesting exploration is ahead, superb! More news to follow.

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Happy New Year! Happy New Summons!

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Reach’s New Website

Fortunately, there are more positive and colorful things in life then otherwise, always are! Today is a very special day for #Reach, a global research network that we are a proud member of already for four *(4) years!

Reach – now a 18(!) members strong network – has just launched its new website, full of information and inspirations! Please look at http://reach-network.com (and keep visiting it or – better even – subscribe to the meta-feed of the news shared by this community in real time.)

On this occasion the members had a global gathering – only virtual for a moment, but full of vitality and very emotional nevertheless. And – with a firm intention to have a ‘flesh’ one later in 2018!


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Private: Latest {heart} breaking news :(

Unfortunately, and with great regret but we have to postpone our inaugural session of the Fabric of the Future program.

At Summ()n we have always been very keen to share our knowledge and expertise with people and always presented our Future Probing sessions as a method of personal and professional empowerment and development. Sadly, our openness has been grossly abused, and our methods and tools have been copycatted (and inevitably corrupted by this) by certain companies and people.

Right now we are taking all the necessary measures to protect our intellectual property and the integrity of our methods, and to prevent these disturbing and unlawful activities by these certain companies and people.

We will continue to work with our existing and potential clients and partners, including with the use of our proprietary Future Probing methodology.  We are committed to resume our open sessions based on this methodology as soon as it is sufficiently protected against any vulturous actions.

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Women of Wearables Eindhoven: Opening Event @ Glow’17

Historically, the three-letter abbreviation WoW always meant World of Warcraft for me (a great game, and a never-ending source of inspiration for our own ‘serious games’). It looks like I will have to learn another meaning, and a very different one – Women of Wearables.

This new WoW is not a game, but a movement that started in the IK to support and connect women in wearable tech (as we figured during our ‘epic’ project with the Nottingham Trent University, the concept of ‘wearable tech’ goes way beyond your usual suspects in form of ‘t-shirt with LED’. The new wave of technologies and practices around them will likely change the very fabric of our life – and so the title of our recent session, of course, the Fabric of the Futures.)

From us and back to the new WoW: It was a complete privilege to be invited to the opening session of the local chapter of this organisation, the WoW Eindhoven, that was held last Friday! It would be very exciting anyway, but it happened to be a completely thrilling experience, as I was the only non-woman at this event!

The initiative was started by two very remarkable ladies – Anna Crosetti from Creative Startup Network (left) and Yelena Kharitonova from Caravan Culture agency (right).

Yelena is a long-time friend of Summ()n and in fact was involved in running of one our earliest game, The City of Happiness (back then she worked under the Caviar Rouge brand).

But again, this time it was not about games (unless you treat them very broadly, in the Huizinganian sense). The program of the opening session was stunningly serious, yet also very creative and joyful, thanks to the talents of its two hostesses.

Speaking about ‘hosting’: The event was kindly hosted by onomatopee gallery (aka avant-garde publishing house, and also a good friend of Summ()n).  All the participants had need warmly greeted by Pernilla Ellens, gallery manager.  

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Theorizing Technological Mediation @ U Twente

Thanks to hyperactive activity of Peter Paul Verbeek and his team, University of Twente in the Dutch city Enschede has become one of the world-leading institutions in the domain of philosophy of technology. The subject of human-technology mediation is way more complex that your typical HCI or even UX, and requires a more in-depth, multi-disciplinary approach, and indeed more philosophical take.

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One too many directions of the DDW!

We are working very actively this year at the Dutch Design Week’17, or DDW, even more actively then usually. The DDWs are always the time and place of encounters with people, concepts, projects (and presentations thereof). One too many things indeed! And this year we also a special focus, in line with our Fabric of Future program. The intensity of the program is well-captures by the title of the DDW this year – STRETCH.

It’s not always easy to keep pace and report about all these things in real time (especially having in mind the debt of one project and three (!) interesting workshops that happened during last month that we didn’t write about yet). More importantly, perhaps is that the format of blogging became too conservative for the tasks of real-like reporting, and we much more actively use our Facebook or Instagram for that.  But we will try to this platform alive, too 🙂

PS: I will write here these debts, and will add the links to the postings when they will be ready:

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Empowering Technologies: The bad, the good, and the meaningful

Some time ago I was invited to a workshop titled ‘Empowering Technologies, to be held in the Design Lab of the University of Twente. The specific focus of the workshop was to “discuss ways in which we can ‘empower’ people with cognitive impairments in daily life settings”. The list of potential ’empowers’ that included “augmented reality, internet-of-things, ubiquitous computing, ambient intelligence…” (in other words, all buzzword tech wonders of the recent years; and the “…” part also allowed for adding the latest kids on the block, too, such as block chain or AI).

Besides Summ()n’s interest in anything ‘new technologies’-wise, the topics of this kind are particularly dear to me: My first degree is, in fact, in clinical psychology, I even worked in a psychiatric clinic earlier in my life. This background makes me a bit better informed than your average participant of such a workshop, but also – and perhaps even more importantly – much more allergic to rash and heedless applications of the ‘new technologies’ in this domain that I see aplenty.

Anyway, I decided to go (partly due to the pleasure to visit the Design Lab, which is known for its creative atmosphere.) Ironically, but the workshop was held in the very same room where Tom Fisher was making his presentation during the last year’s conference on Technology Mediation (see a short piece about this event here Theorizing Technological Mediation @ U Twente). We later met with Tom, and talked, and then talked again, and all these talks eventually lead to a very interesting project about the ‘futures of smart textile’ that we’ve done with the NTU later on.

I came to the workshop a bit later and missed the introduction of the participants, but I sense it was a mix of researchers from the University itself (including some students, of different level), some representations of the care centers, and some people from tech companies.  The workshop started from an opening presentation by Jelle van Dijk (whom I know for years and who is currently with the Human Centred Design team of the University of Twente). Jelle presented, albeit very briefly, a wide range of different ‘technologies’ (see above) that could be used to ’empower’ people, and then suggested to discuss these ’empowering opportunities’ in smaller groups.

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MyFutures Workshop: It did happen!

I wrote about the MyFutures project earlier this year (when we visited its inaugural conference – MyFutures Symposium in TU Delft) and then later about our presentation of the Future Probing method to the team (MyFutures & More). The idea to run a demo session was coined back then but it remained fairly vague and the date of such a session kept being postponed.

Meanwhile, we were too busy with other projects, including our duo Future Probing session for the Nottingham Trent University, and nearly lost any hope to do something with the MyFutures team. Fortunately, the idea didn’t completely sink and eventually we have prepared and run this session!

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Future Probing session about (and beyond) ‘Smart Textile’

Based on a number of our recent projects related to ‘smart materials’ and ‘intelligent wearables’ and following our method of Future Probing, Summ( )n has developed the next edition of our open training/demo sessions, similar to what we were offering during our Summer School of 2016.

The new program is codenamed The Future of Fabric, Fabric of the Futures (and as the title suggests, its goes beyond the usual ‘e-textile’ or ‘smart wearables’).  We practice this broader approach in our ‘real projects’, and don’t want to loose it in more simple versions either. Summ()n is planing to conduct a few such sessions in 2017/18, some by our own team, and some others in together with our new partners in this exciting – and literally exploding – area. Read the description of the session here, and subscribe to the first (inaugural) session that will be held in Eindhoven on Dec 12.

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