Natalie Kane

Researcher at Changeist

Fri 26 May, 2017, 14:00

Thingclash Workshop

Millions of new devices are being connected to the Internet each year—toasters, home hubs, cars, even sex toys. The IoT is a designer's wonderland, offering endless possibilities for connected "Things." It's expected that by 2020 there will be upwards of 50 billion connected nodes in use worldwide. 

It shouldn't be surprising that once these shiny devices have been unboxed, they will be pushed beyond the imagined perfection of their pristine primary use case. Things change. When a delicately constructed user experience meets an unanticipated use case, frictions emerge. Things break down.

Every day we see new stories of IoT products breaking down because of these frictions: 

  • Lost Amazon Dash buttons ordering unneeded products
  • Self-driving cars hacked with laser pointers and a little cash
  • Smart TVs listening to, and sharing, intimate conversations
  • Electronic locks responding to personal assistants though non-owner voice commands
  • Personal devices gathering and sharing aggregated data without user permissions

Thingclash is a project of Changeist, designed to allow critical exploration of scenarios around the ever-expanding IoT, with a view to making these products and services better, safer, and more secure for everyone. 

During the workshop:

  • Teams will be prompted to selectively examine several types of Things (Know Your Thing) 
  • Imagine where, and by whom they will be used (Put Your Thing In the World)
  • Explore why assumptions about these Things can create unforeseen frictions which diminish their usefulness and value (Thingclash)

To close the workshop, each team devises a fictional story, using a scenario generated during their process, to share their findings, and to prompt discussion around why it's important to anticipate and consider these possible frictions early (and often) in the design process. 

Target Audience:
Participants should take away a better understanding of how to design experiences for our diverse, messy, and complicated, increasingly connected world.

About Natalie Kane

Natalie works as a researcher for Changeist, alongside additional responsibility as Curator & Editor for FutureEverything, an innovation and culture lab and festival in Manchester. As a curator, writer and researcher exploring the intersection of culture, futures, design and technology, she has a particular interest in the uses and abuses of personal data, ethics and innovation in wearable technologies and issues surrounding the Quantified Self, as well as an interest in the cultural and social impact of engineering. She co-developed and contributes to Changeist’s Thingclash project, and leads workshops around technology, ethics and the future.

Natalie is also co-curator of the Haunted Machines conference, an ongoing research and curatorial project that reflects on narratives of magic and hauntings in our relationship to technology, and is co-curator of the 2017 IMPAKT festival in Utrecht. She has also been a visiting lecturer in Innovation & Futures Thinking at IED Barcelona and at the 2017 RITSC Winterschool in Brussels. She was previously Programme Assistant for Lighthouse in Brighton.

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