Research Paper / Evaluative Report
In an entirely digital future,
how might we re-materialise communication?
Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, MA Communication Design, 2013
firstname.lastname@example.org / cancan-m.com
2 Introduction 3 Background (Personal Motivation)4 Design Fiction (The Main Methodology) 6 Stationery
Design (The Initial Experiment) 10 Research on Today And The Future 11 Ready-Made (Supporting Methodology)
12 The Scenario 13 The Final Outcome 20 Conclusion21 Reference
24 Subjectivity 25 Discovery Of New Approach26 Design Beyond The Frame
2 COMMUNICATION SURVIVAL KIT
Communication is at the heart of the human history. No one can imagine
a world without speech, or even without writing. The writing began its
history 5000 years ago in the eastern Mediterranean, and much later,
new systems were invented to reproduce thousand or a million times what
could previously only be spoken or remembered.
Since those inventions including printing, postal service, radio, telephone,
and television, has significantly shaped our culture, we have seen the
world selected to be seen (William, 1981).
A football match on television, for example, would never be the same as
it is played. There would be the decision of what we should see and what
the most exciting is. It is selected so that it can be reported. However, we
can easily forget this because we care the game, not the process.
Today it has led by the Internet and mobile devices, which is at the centre
of any debate about communication among young people. Although we
all know that texting is means of symbolisation, it is treated as a reality
equally to face-to-face experience.
Especially, young people, who were born with this developed reality, can
hardly distinguish the limitation from those means. Moreover, they are
stressed out with an obscure meaning created by the limitation (Turkle,
2011). With a text saying sorry, you would be irresolute whether he
was actually apologising, or just flattering. You would not misjudge if it
were in person. This increasing mistrust or misunderstanding has been
twisting a relationship among the young.
The research was commenced to tackle this invisible urgent situation,
which needs to be realised by the young. There have been the measures
to deal with the situation, such as, educating the digital literacy (Dug-
gan, 2013), offering stress management, or even many communication
designs to smooth the troubles.
They would be the great first aids, however, the problem is passivity of the
young who are always given the answer. They are admonished to solve the
situation without their motivation. The first thing to do is to make them
actively discuss the situation, not only for today, but for the future they
I as a communication designer strongly believe that design has played a
significant role to provide a different point of view in everyday life. There-
RESEARCH PAPER 3
MA COMMUNICATION DESIGN
fore I started this design journey to investigate how to make the situation
more noticeable and discussable for our children and grandchildren.
In this research paper, I will reflect my background, which directed me
to where possible to question before moving onto the initial experiment
applying the main methodology. After evaluating the experiment, the
paper will go through the further research and supporting methodology
to generate more provocative outcome, which will be discussed at the end
of the paper.
The experience of the communication crisis warned me of our depend-
ence on the digital world, which could cause not only an everyday prob-
lem, but also a matter of life and death.
In 2011, there was Tohoku earthquake where many people experienced
communication confusion by the suspended networks. Because the phone
switchboard was jammed at once, the digital communication turned out
the only medium we could contact each other. It made possible warning a
danger or sending a SOS to where the mass media could not approach.
Nevertheless, we became confused if we were exchanging vital informa-
tion, or rumours. With great concerns about the safety, any information
looking urgent was sent out without consideration of its validity. The crisis
revealed the dependence on the technology weakening our ability to judge
the right information outside of the digital world (Kinoshita, 2011).
BAckgRound (peRsonAl MoTivATion)
4 COMMUNICATION SURVIVAL KIT
We have come too far to remember the world without technology, however,
facing a crisis like this case, we would finally realise how distorted our
I strongly felt that we were still in progress of handling the digital com-
munication. In addition to the preparation for the crisis, the development
of technology needs reflection on its impact on human interaction. Com-
munication technology should not promote speed or ease of its applica-
tion. It should have a room to remind of why, what, with whom, and how
we are communicating.
This experience gave me a calling to change the situation by communica-
tion design. I therefore decided to explore a way to stimulate discussion
on the balance between communication and technology as a final MA
In order to raise arguments, the situation needs to be visible. Instead of
being clear propaganda, the project aims to be a trigger for people cen-
tred in the digital communication. That is why Design Fiction was chosen
to be the main methodology.
Advocated by many futurists such as an American Sci-fi writer Bruce
Sterling, Design Fiction is an approach to design that speculates about
new ideas through prototyping and storytelling. There are some notable
examples in various fields introduced below.
In product design, Dunne & Raby is one of the great practitioners of this
methodology. They use a term Critical Design instead of Design Fiction
to define their focus on the reflection of new technology and science.
For example, in one of their work TECHNOLOGICAL DREAMS SERIES:
NO.1, ROBOTS (Dunne and Raby, 2007), they designed robots which
could not follow your orders. Because robots had been developed with a
brain like a human, they speculated that robots might start to be worried,
to be indecisive, or even to dream in the future.
design FicTion(The MAin MeThodology)
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MA COMMUNICATION DESIGN
Meanwhile, in graphic design, Tibor Kalman, in his magazine Colors,
provoked the preconception of race in a similar way with Design Fiction
(Toscani and Kalman, 1993).
He imagined the future without race from his attention to increasing peo-
ple with mixed origin. On the other hand, he knew that race influenced
our identity and our belief in someone. He consequently represented the
incompatibility by mixing skin colours of the famous people (Kalman and
Hall et al., 2000).
TECHNOLOGICAL DREAMS SERIES: NO.1, ROBOTS (Dunne and Raby, 2007)
6 COMMUNICATION SURVIVAL KIT
Inspired by their success in raising many arguments, my project refers to
Design Fiction in the way to stimulate contemporary communication by
speculating about the future situation.
My first experiment with Design Fiction, which was stationery design for
the future event annulling digital communication, led to the further re-
search and more concrete outcomes. Before evaluating the result of the
experiment, I will discuss my findings in the observation, and the first
scenario for the stationery design.
The digital communication is getting over the analogues position. It is
hard to stay with the analogue in order to catch up with everyday life.
Especially, mobile devices are compatible with the Internet social net-
working to reduce our belongings.
sTATioneRy design(The iniTiAl expeRiMenT)
What if...? (Toscani and Kalman, 1993)
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MA COMMUNICATION DESIGN
The devices allow your individual connection with both people and source
which physically impossible. In spite of the admirable fact, those advan-
tages seem to accelerate our dependence on the digital life.
For example, as soon as you find somewhere to go or you get lost your
way, you would not hesitate to access to the Internet mapping services,
such as Google map. A physical map would be used only where the Inter-
net is not available. That would be the moment to remember your reliance
on those services, at last.
It was assumed after the observation that remembrance of the analogue
communication could make people step back from the digital, and a sce-
nario was roughly set up in the future where the digital is unavailable and
the analogue communication takes its place temporary.
To introduce this future, the idea of stationery being a survival kit was
emerged. A survival kit is a term for a package of basic tools and