Circulate on Fridays: shaping the future of design, tech and cities

Publication Date: 

Friday, 15 September 2017 - 6:58pm


Joe Iles

Gadgets and gizmos might have dominated the news cycle this week, but if you reaaaally want to know where technology and design might be heading in the future, read on with this week’s Circulate on Fridays…

Our favourite piece this week came courtesy of Jason Hickel and Martin Kirk on Fast Company, in which the authors tell us not to be ‘scared by the end of capitalism’, but to ‘be excited to build what comes next’. Hickel and Kirk say that debate is moving on from the ‘dusty old binaries’ of socialism vs capitalism, and they highlight some of the organisations and groups around the world that are questioning the traditional model of ‘extraction, production and consumption’. It’s an article dense with links and references, many of which can enrich your circular economy understanding.

What are your thoughts on the notch? In a week where some design commentators became obsessed with the physical quirks of Apple’s latest iPhone, FastCo’s piece on the ‘9 ideas shaping the future of design helped us look at the bigger picture. Influencers and pioneers from the industry gave their perspective, and a common thread is that design will be vital in addressing some of the economic and societal challenges of our time. Carlo Ratti, Director of the MIT Senseable City Lab adds the rather timely comment that the design profession will face ‘oblivion’ if it  ‘continues to focus on minor aesthetic problems’, while Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, selects systems thinking as his top priority. This systemic approach is vital in the shift to a circular economy, and if you want to try and get in this mindset then try out the Circular Design Guide, developed by IDEO and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Staying with the tech theme, NewCoShift’s John Battelle collects evidence to support his theory that ‘Tech is Public Enemy #1′. Battelle says that the tide of public opinion has turned when it comes to tech, and the industry needs to ‘lead the way forward towards a new form of progressive, inclusive capitalism’. Just like designers, tech pioneers have the chance to apply their skills and cash to help address the wicked problems of today. Some are adopting the circular economy model to guide their thinking – check out Seb Read’s article ‘Does the Digital Economy Need Direction?’ for more on this topic.

Catch up on Circulate’s Future of Mobility series for our take on how technology and mobility are changing our cities Image: kvoloshin / Flickr CC BY-NC-ND

Mobility is one area currently undergoing a tech-focused reinvention, and an informative piece in Harvard Business Review this week explains how cities should adapt. It’s mostly well-trodden ground, but the distinction between the type of mobility solutions that could work for Delhi compared to those that would suit Paris is a useful distinction.

Finally, an event for Circulate’s Estonian readers: the Estonian Ministry of the Environment and Garage48 are holding a hackathon on the circular economy. The organisers are looking for 20 “circular economy specialists, environmental experts, software developers, marketers, project managers, designers, ux/ui experts, visionary entrepreneurs” to take place in the event on 6-8 October. If you’ve got a great circular innovation brewing, this could be just the ticket to bring it to life.

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