Making Futures: Marginal Notes on Innovation, Design, and Democracy

Innovation and design need not be about the search for a killer app. Innovation and design can start in people’s everyday activities. Making Futures (published by MIT Press) describes experiments in innovation, design, and democracy, undertaken largely by grassroots organizations, non-governmental organizations, and multi-ethnic working-class neighborhoods.


Update January 14, 2016

All chapters of Making Futures are now available under a CC:BY-NC license.


Ehn, Pelle, Elisabet M. Nilsson, and Richard Topgaard (eds.). 2014. Making Futures: Marginal Notes on Innovation, Design, and Democracy. MIT Press.

Open Access: One chapter per month, starting November 2014, is released under a Creative Commons license. View all available chapters on muep.mah.se, or scroll down on this page.

OVERVIEW – Innovation and design need not be about the search for a killer app. Innovation and design can start in people’s everyday activities. They can encompass local services, cultural production, arenas for public discourse, or technological platforms. The approach is participatory, collaborative, and engaging, with users and consumers acting as producers and creators. It is concerned less with making new things than with making a socially sustainable future. This book describes experiments in innovation, design, and democracy, undertaken largely by grassroots organizations, non-governmental organizations, and multi-ethnic working-class neighborhoods.

These stories challenge the dominant perception of what constitutes successful innovations. They recount efforts at social innovation, opening the production process, challenging the creative class, and expanding the public sphere. The wide range of cases considered include a collective of immigrant women who perform collaborative services, the development of an open-hardware movement, grassroots journalism, and hip-hop performances on city buses. They point to the possibility of democratized innovation that goes beyond solo entrepreneurship and crowdsourcing in the service of corporations to include multiple futures imagined and made locally by often-marginalized publics.

CONTRIBUTORS – Måns Adler, Erling Björgvinsson, Karin Book, David Cuartielles, Pelle Ehn, Anders Emilson, Per-Anders Hillgren, Mads Hobye, Michael Krona, Per Linde, Kristina Lindström, Sanna Marttila, Elisabet M. Nilsson, Anna Seravalli, Pernilla Severson, Åsa Ståhl, Lucy Suchman, Richard Topgaard, and Laura Watts.

Purchase the book through MIT PressAmazon, or Adlibris.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

One chapter per month, starting November 2014, is released under a Creative Commons license. View all available chapters on muep.mah.se, or follow the links below for individual chapters.

Prologue – Lucy Suchman, Laura Watts, and Pelle Ehn

1. Introduction – Pelle Ehn, Elisabet M. Nilsson, and Richard Topgaard

I Designing Conditions for the Social

2. Designing Conditions for the Social – Anders Emilson

3. Designing in the Neighborhood: Beyond (and in the Shadow of) Creative Communities – Anders Emilson, Per-Anders Hillgren, and Anna Seravalli

4. Connecting with the Powerful Strangers: From Governance to Agonistic Design Things – Anders Emilson and Per-Anders Hillgren

II Opening Production – Design and Commons

5. Opening Production: Design and Commons – Sanna Marttila, Elisabet M. Nilsson, and Anna Seravalli

6. While Waiting for the Third Industrial Revolution: Attempts at Commoning Production – Anna Seravalli

7. Playing with Fire: Collaborating through Digital Sketching in a Creative Community – Mads Hobye

8. How Deep Is Your Love? On Open-Source Hardware – David Cuartielles

III Creative Class Struggles

9. Creative Class Struggles – Erling Björgvinsson and Pernilla Severson

10. The Making of Cultural Commons: Nasty Old Film Distribution and Funding – Erling Björgvinsson

11. Collaborative Design and Grassroots Journalism: Public Controversies and Controversial Publics – Erling Björgvinsson

12. Stories on Future-Making in Everyday Practices from Managers in the Creative Industries – Pernilla Severson

IV Emerging Publics

13. Emerging Publics: Totem-Poling the ‘We’s and ‘Me’s of Citizen Participation – Per Linde

14. Performing the City: Exploring the Bandwidth of Urban Place-Making through New-Media Tactics – Per Linde and Karin Book

15. Publics-in-the-Making: Crafting Issues in a Mobile Sewing Circle – Kristina Lindström and Åsa Ståhl

16. Emerging Publics and Interventions in Democracy* – Michael Krona and Måns Adler

*Correction to page 331 (made on 9 January 2017)—On June 13 the police started to use excessive force against the protesters, and also arresting some of them. To make sure they kept the information scenario under control, they confiscated some protesters’ mobile phones and cameras. That day, Ramy Raoof, a well-known technologist in the human rights domain, had equipped his mobile phone with the Bambuser application. The police erased hundreds of photos and videos from protesters’ confiscated phones and cameras. But Raoof’s footage of the events was however secure from that scenario, even though his phone never got confiscated in this case. Assuming that they had control of the information scenario, the police denied having used excessive force in the aftermath. But since Raoof’s broadcast had not only been broadcast to the Internet in real time but also stored on Bambuser’s servers, it was available as obvious proof of the excessive force for the public to see for themselves.

  • An exquisite collection. Pertinent, powerful. Serious, yet soulful. A path forward.