Dan Hill has a great post about an ‘imaginary appliance’ called Brickstarter, and explains how speculative design (not a term he is using, but he should) animates the process of getting people to consider the implications of a design:
Previously on Brickstarter: our project is about sketching new cultures of public decision-making, predicated on reversing NIMBY cultures to become YIMBY cultures. We’re creating a platform for making suggestions about how to improve your neighbourhood or environment, and then turn those proposals into projects. We do this in order to start constructive conversations within and around government and other relevant institutions. This aspect engages with “dark matter”: the often imperceptible regulations, legislation, organisational cultures and behavours that can either enable or block systemic change. As such, Brickstarter is actually a prototype of a service, or culture, that attempts to get to the heart of what democratic decision-making might be, of how we might develop our cultures of politics and governance in cities, towns and nations.
This latter aspect actually reveals that the point of Brickstarter is not really in making a website at all, necessarily, but rather in developing a sketch of “a 21st century social contract”. Or at least aspects of that. It’s not making a statement about what that should be, but using prototyping to explore what that might be.
And Brickstarter looks very cool, too: