Everything is a prototype but not at all in the same way: Towards an ecology of prototyping


I’ve been pretty (really) slow on the week notes over summer, its a shame because there has been a lot going on, lots to write and think about, but I’ve not managed to get to any of it yet.

In place of that, I had a journal article published in STS Encounters recently, Everything is a prototype but not at all in the same way: Towards an ecology of prototyping. It was the outcome of an extremely generous team and review process — especially Ruth Neubauer, and Peter Danholt who gave helpful, generous, thoughtful and critical comments. Thank you both!

Abstract here:

In this article I reflect on discussions from the 2022 DASTS conference around the shifting nature of prototyping in design research. Specifically, I reflect on Ruth Neubauer and colleagues’ work on ‘prototyping living spaces’ (2022, and this volume), and Simy Gahoonia and Christopher Gad’s (Forthcoming; 2022) study of the Danish Technical Comprehension experiment. I also reflect on an element of my own design-research that has involved developing speculative prototypes, namely a tandem bicycle that was designed as an ‘interview machine’ for gathering research on the Calais Jungle refugee camp in France (Healy, 2021). I go on to develop what I refer to as a prototyping ecology to underpin the above and to consider the different modes and methods involved in different kinds of prototyping practices, and the ways they stabilise and destabilise the situations they enter into. Finally, I ‘test’ this ecology by revisiting the aforementioned examples to explore the forms of ‘stirring’ that prototypes participate in, how they straddle the ecology, and the ways they produce and encourage research events where I argue for the importance of how one might become attuned to the ways they encourage the unexpected by forming new relations and events through material intervention.

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