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The Outlaw Designers: Envisioning the Future

Jeffrey Syken

“If you want to predict the future, you must invent the future”

Alan Kay

Since antiquity, “inventing the future” has been the province of the greatest minds the world has ever known. The human ability to create through the process of thought, transformed into action, makes us unique among the higher life forms of planet earth. Those who dare to think “outside the box” are the greatest thinkers of all, thereby the greatest inventors of the future. They are the Design Outlaws.

Among their ranks are familiar names like Leonardo Da Vinci and the Wright Brothers. In modern times, great thinkers like R. Buckminster Fuller – inventor of the Dymaxion house and car and, most famously, the geodesic dome, come to mind. Perhaps it was providential that he was born far-sighted – able to see clearly at a distance yet unable to see clearly close-up. It was his “far sightedness” that invented a future that, in words and deeds, would benefit all mankind. Indeed, his greatest invention was himself.

There are others, less familiar by name but no less significant in their contribution to inventing the future. With his Whole Earth Catalog, Stewart Brand established a precedent in the age of analog technology that would carry forward into the digital network culture of the information age we all live in today. Even Steve Jobs, an enthusiastic reader of the WEC as a young man, recognized its importance to the future he helped invent. The “Living Machine,” invented by John Todd, is another fine example of inventing the future. In many ways, it recognizes the fact that we are all a part of the world around us, not apart from it.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

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