Imagining the alternative future

One of the most thought provoking books I’ve read this year was Inventing the future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work Book. In the book Alex Williams and Nick Snick talk about to imagining utopian futures:

[Utopias] demand that the future be realised, they form an impossible but necessary object of desire, and they give us a language of hope and aspiration for a better world.

They go on to say that:

The creation of alternatives also makes it possible to recognise that another world is possible in the first place …In elaborating an image of the future, utopian thought also generates a viewpoint from which the present becomes open to critique. It suspends the appearance of the present as inevitable and brings to light aspects of the world that would otherwise go unnoticed, raising questions.

For me, this is the important thing. It’s about first being willing to imagine the alternative. That’s being prepared to find something, a story, sketch, picture or even a new shared language that helps us to think more carefully, ask better questions and understand the world as it is right now.

Being able to imagine the alternative then gives us something we can plan to work towards. Everything stopping us getting there becoming a series of ‘next’ problems to be solved. The next problem is simply the next step towards our vision of the future.

To summarise: the design of better things is explicitly tied to our ambition and openness when thinking about the alternative then our ability and determination to work towards it.

Footnote: Don’t know where to start. Find your mission.

This blog post is part of an experiment where I’m writing and publishing something everyday. This is day 10: everyday is an opportunity to write something – previous blog posts.

Ben Holliday is an experienced designer, leader, writer and speaker. This is his blog (started in 2005). You can follow all of Ben's blog posts by subscribing to the RSS feed, or follow him on Twitter for more regular updates.