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John Thackara John Thackara

Collaborative innovation is the way of the future - but it needs to be organised. John Thackara sets up projects in which designers, together with grassroots innovators and other citizens, develop new services and products for daily life. He also helps build institutions that enable designers and citizens to work together in new ways. John is the Director of Doors of Perception, a social innovation network that was founded as a conference in 1993. This unique community of practice is inspired by two questions: "we know what new technology can do, but what is it for?"; and, “how do we want to live?”. These questions figure prominently in Designs of the time (Dott 07) in North East England, of which John is programme director. He is also preparing for Doors of Perception 9, on the theme of food energy and design, which takes place in Delhi next February.

John Thackara was on the panel at The Great Megastructures Debate at Discovery Museum, Newcastle upon Tyne on 15 March 2007.

Proceedings of The Great Megastructures Debate


In the Bubble by John Thackara

In the Bubble: Designing for a Complex World by John Thackara
We're filling up the world with technology and devices, but we've lost sight of an important question: What is this stuff for? What value does it add to our lives? So asks author John Thackara in his new book, In the Bubble: Designing for a Complex World. These are tough questions for the pushers of technology to answer. Our economic system is centered on technology, so it would be no small matter if "tech" ceased to be an end-in-itself in our daily lives. Technology is not going to go away, but the time to discuss the ends it will serve is before we deploy it, not after. We need to ask what purpose will be served by the broadband communications, smart materials, wearable computing, and connected appliances that we're unleashing upon the world. We need to ask what impact all this stuff will have on our daily lives. Who will look after it, and how? In the Bubble is about a world based less on stuff, and more on people. Thackara describes a transformation that is taking place now -- not in a remote science fiction future; it's not about, as he puts it, "the schlock of the new" but about radical innovation already emerging in daily life. We are regaining respect for what people can do that technology can't. In the Bubble describes services designed to help people carry out daily activities in new ways. Many of these services involve technology -- ranging from body implants to wide-bodied jets. But objects and systems play a supporting role in a people-centered world. The design focus is on services, not things. And new principles -- above all, lightness -- inform the way these services are designed and used. At the heart of In the Bubble is a belief, informed by a wealth of real-world examples, that ethics and responsibility can inform design decisions without impeding social and technical innovation.

Design After Modernism: Beyond the Object by John Thackara (Ed.)

Winners! How Europe's Most Successful Companies Use Design To Innovate by John Thackara et al

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Useful Links books by John Thackara
Doors of Perception
Proceedings of The Great Megastructures Debate
Reaching for the Sky. Review of The Great Megastructures Debate by Laura-Jay Turnbull

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