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The future as a design problem

Reeves, Stuart; Goulden, Murray; Dingwall, Robert


Assistant Professor in Digital Scoiology

Robert Dingwall


An often unacknowledged yet foundational problem for design is how ‘futures‘ are recruited for design practice. This problem saturates considerations of what could or should be designed. We distinguish two intertwined approaches to this: ‘pragmatic projection’, which tries to tie the future to the past, and ‘grand vision’, which ties the present to the future. We examine ubiquitous computing as a case study of how pragmatic projection and grand vision are practically expressed to direct and structure design decisions. We assess their implications and conclude by arguing that the social legitimacy of design futures should be increasingly integral to their construction.


Reeves, S., Goulden, M., & Dingwall, R. (2016). The future as a design problem. Design Issues, 32(3), 6-17. doi:10.1162/DESI_a_00395

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 2, 2015
Online Publication Date Jul 13, 2016
Publication Date Jul 30, 2016
Deposit Date Feb 17, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jul 13, 2016
Journal Design Issues
Print ISSN 0747-9360
Electronic ISSN 1531-4790
Publisher Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 32
Issue 3
Pages 6-17
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