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Speculative Futures by Johanna Hoffman
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Speculative Futures

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Speculative Futures by Johanna Hoffman
Paperback $19.95
Oct 04, 2022 | ISBN 9781623177362

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“What we learn in Johanna Hoffman’s Speculative Futures is about an evolution in what ‘futures’ (plural) means, and how ‘future’ is now a verb. We ‘future’ means we imagine, we explore, we visit, we investigate, we build possibilities. These various practices Hoffman describes in truly engaging detail, and through actual projects—speculative design, futures design, and design fiction—are laid out as kindred and symbiotic approaches and mindsets. She reminds us that they all share a goal, which is to teach us how to see adjacent possibilities and opportunities. Hoffman reminds us that we make our path. She reminds us that we need not accept the worlds we do not want to inhabit, nor contribute to the making of worlds whose purposes do not align with our values. Speculative Futures is about a mindset. It is about a kind of practice for building worlds that may be our best hope for effecting meaningful global change. This is a kind of design for the generation that is now having to imagine powerfully, thoroughly, and confidently. This is not the kind of design that decides what color next year’s gadget should be, or what user interface pattern is best to keep the heads-down public scrolling scrolling scrolling. This is not the design practice the consuming public has come to fetishize, and that has us overflowing with design-prize-winning mobile phones, car tires, plastic soda bottles, hair clippers, and vacuum cleaners. The change Hoffman writes about is change meant to lead us to a more habitable near future world. We need to imagine differently, for the planet, and independent of the demands of extractive and exploitive networks of capital and commerce. Hoffman captures the value of approaches like design fiction, reminding us that speculative futures taps directly into our imagination—the one evolutionarily critical faculty we all have that may very well be what saves us from our current existential crisis.”
—Julian Bleecker, co-founder of Near Future Laboratory and author of A Synchronicity

“In order to change our cities, and the world, we need to first imagine a better future—a future we might not have imagined at all. Johanna Hoffman’s Speculative Futures is a guidebook to getting there—one that will help us move beyond the pessimism and polarization of our time, and build the better, more caring communities we need.”
—Richard Florida, author of Rise of the Creative Class

“To design cities that meet our long-term goals for a better life, we cannot simply enact the most likely futures we’re able to imagine. We need to do more than dream about the future—we need to explore its intricate detail and impact. By playing with the rich, wide, and varied tapestries of possible futures, we stand a better chance of identifying the most feasible and optimal forms that can possibly exist. In this fascinating text, Johanna Hoffman provides us with a guide on how to do so. Using examples from the past and speculations from the near future, she’s created an important book for our times.”
—Michael Batty, professor of planning at University College London and author of Inventing Future Cities and The New Science of Cities

“In this remarkable book, Johanna Hoffman tells the story of city futures. This is not just the world of visioning the future city, but the gritty world of citizen meetings and foresight workshops. Her case studies make this work, indeed, futures work as a whole real. We learn from this book about Wakanda, the UAE, San Francisco, and other foresight interventions. Having worked in the area of city futures for decades now—council by council, shire by shire, mayor after mayor—Hoffman’s details provide both inspiration but also an illumination of the politics of futures design. In a journey of past, present, and future, speculative futures illuminates the way.”
—Sohail Inayatullah, UNESCO Chair in Futures Studies for Sejahtera Centre for Sustainability and Humanity of International Islamic University Malaysia and Tamkang University

“In these pages, Johanna Hoffman introduces us to the cutting-edge artists, storytellers, futurists, and community activists whose approaches and tools ‘help us think long-term by making the future feel immediate.’ Drawing on stories from her own work and around the world, she powerfully argues for collapsing the distance between tomorrow and today, as a vital and urgent strategy for navigating uncertain times more playfully, effectively, and wisely. The principles and practices shared here in worldbuilding, foresight, and design promise to ‘empower more of us to articulate, believe in, and enact our own futures.’ There is a timely and important gift here, not only for the worlds of urban planning and architecture where she began her career, but for agents of change everywhere. Anyone who aspires to more vibrant and resilient futures at all scales should read this book, and I hope they will.”
—Stuart Candy, PhD, associate professor of design at Carnegie Mellon University

“Hoffman’s book is an invaluable primer for anyone trying to make sense of an uncertain and unstable future. Combining personal narrative with a wide breadth of research from fields from psychology to climate science and everything in between, she offers a path forward to grapple with difficult questions lit by empathy, justice, and radical hope.”
—Sara Jensen Carr, author of Topography of Wellness and assistant professor of architecture at Northeastern University

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