dConstruct 2011 – a review

At dConstruct 2011 cyberspace was declared dead. Gone are the days when we dreamed about walking in second life, uploading our brain to the net and leaving our bodies behind to float forever in an infinite virtual space. Now we’ve abandoned the long stairway to cyber-heaven, where do we find ourselves? After scaring people for too long, technology has begun to hide itself. First it shrunk clunky boxes into shiny objects, then it transformed winding cables into waves of air. Suddenly it was behind our walls, underneath our floors and our offices and kitchens, and one day, without anyone taking notice, it jumped into our pockets and has not left us since. How do you design for a world where not life, but technology has become virtual, something that can do and be anything you can imagine, but that in itself has no particular shape or place? The answer is both complex and simple. It’s a lot like living in the old days: we share stories and create memories, we hang out with our friends and family and try to make sense of the world in which we live. But it is like living in the new days too, every object has its virtual doppelgänger, every move turns into data that can be tracked and traced, at any place we can connect with anyone and anything else. In a way technology has become more like ‘the force’ – an omnipresent faceless power that can be tapped into at any moment to use for… to use for what?

The construction of an idea

One day a small itch visits you, a feeling, a hunch of something that could be changed. You start exploring what it might be, how big it is, what is part of it, what doesn’t fit, which edges are too far to see. Slowly the hunch starts to transform into an idea. First it’s very rough, its contours merely visible, then, after you beat, torture, inquire and polish it, it starts to unveil some of its potential beauty. It’s translated into another language, documented, sketched and presented. You invite people from all of the world to test and try the idea, to punch it, to build upon it, to take it for a walk or for a wild bus ride down the country side. Slowly the idea starts to alter reality, in corridors whispers can be heard, folded notes pass from hand to hand, it gains momentum, it shows up in books and presentations, children shout its name and grown ups discuss it over coffee. It starts to change the world, cathedrals and shopping centres are erected in its name, magazines and tv hosts spew it out in an endless sea of words, images and objects. For the idea this is the sign that it has to move on, it has done its duty and is free to float again, above the roofs and squares of the old city it flies until it has found yet another sleepless night.