Design After the End of the World


After the success of TEDSIG|2020, TEDSIG membership was invited to participate in a speculative design reading group. Lead by Renee Albrecht-Mallinger - a design strategist, storyteller, educator, and futurist useing human-centered design methods to address problems of all sizes - and John Jung - a computer programmer and design methods workshop facilitator, the “Design After the End of the World: Speculative Design and Climate Reading Group” was opened for registration. In partnership with LATITUDE, a nonprofit community digital lab in Chicago, the 10 person reading group meet each Thursday, from 6:30-8:30pm CT, between September 3rd and October 22nd to discuss the weekly readings.


As an introduction to the breadth of speculative design, the reading group investigated: the work of Superflux, read selections from Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement and Stewart Brand’s The Clock of the Long Now: Time and Responsibility​, explored games as a method for idea generation and rapid prototyping, and shared our interpretations and analysis each week.

Feel free to review an archive of the syllabus.

Next Steps

Beginning with TEDSIG 2020 in July, and continued through an inspired Speculative Design and Climate Reading Group with LATITUDE, the culmination of this yearlong exploration of speculative design and libraries was formulated into a call for proposals.

Speculative Futures | Post-Pandemic Libraries

“Futures are not a destination, but a medium for imaginative thought” - Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby

We might consider post-pandemic libraries to be behind us, or immediately facing us; or, perhaps they’re far beyond any near-term horizon. Remote, distant, or extending through centuries into a yet-unimagined future. ‘Post-pandemic’ is an intentionally nebulous frame of reference, affording almost instantaneous, molecular futures, while simultaneously opening a fissure in contemporary reality: an opportunity for the as-of-yet-unthought-of to be released unto the world.

Attribution: Joseph Voros

This call for proposals seeks submissions for a web-based publication. The finished product will be similar to walking through a curated exhibit at an art gallery, where each contribution stands on its own as a work of art, but together, create an object for reflecting upon our present-day library and information practices.

We welcome proposals from underrepresented groups, including but not limited to: women, people of color, LGBTQ+, ability/disability, and non-binary gender identities. We also invite proposals from members of underrepresented and/or marginalized groups that don’t fit into the categories listed above.

Potential contributions might include:

  • Photoessays
  • Drawings/sketches
  • Film/trailer
  • Cautionary tales
  • Software/code
  • Object from the future
  • Postcards that travel back in time to us
  • Maps or other fictional cartography
  • Architectural designs
  • Dataset from the future
  • Short stories, theatrical spaces, movements
  • A manifesto
  • Description of an activist event/protest from the future
  • News of a cataclysmic event that serves as a tipping point
  • Reading lists for yet-to-be-written works

Proposals will be accepted until December 7, 2020 and the finished exhibition is slated to be published in late March, 2021.

Library Systems Analyst

Focusing on cultural heritage institutions: discovery applications, data (and metadata) wrangling, web development, process automation, and system integration.