Rough notes from Robert Willim — I’m taking a ride — curve surfing and speed mania

Hard to start after Doc’s talk.

Ph.D. on Fram­fab. And on new econ­o­my and dot com boom and bust.

What hap­pened back then? To see if there are any similarities…

Open ques­tion

How do we pre­dict twists of history?

How do we make sense in heat­ed times?


Start­ed 5, at top it was 2000.

He made a ethno­graph­ic study of their office and looked at the soft­ware called Bricks.

Envi­sion­ing / claim­ing / cre­at­ing the future — the future factory

CEO is good visionary

Com­mu­ni­cate vision through spa­tial metaphors

Ex. vir­tu­al land grab, idea of pio­neers and movers

Oth­er: curve surf­ing — s‑curve often used to graph innovation.

Web 2.0: how can you tell where you are on the curve? Men­tal­ly you can surf the curve.

It’s like trav­el­ing on a train track. Tech­no­log­i­cal deter­min­ism. It’s not that easy, soci­ety is much more com­plex, tech isn’t the only dri­ving force. It has to do with what we use it for.

What are visions? 

Con­jur­ing, mak­ing a future tangible. 

One way is to extrap­o­late trends through curve surf­ing. This is quite simplistic. 

E.g. think­ing about bridge between Den­mark and Swe­den in 1930ies.

Oth­er ex.: think­ing on com­put­ers in 1980ies — peo­ple will become robots.

Vapor­ware: lock­ing a con­sumer’s mind. E.g. Mac­Book vs. PowerBook.

Speed mania, when speed is seen as inher­ent­ly positive

First mover advan­tage, escape velocity

The suprema­cy of speed was idea behind Framfab

…con­cep­tu­al congruity?

Flow / reflexivity

Go with the flow… but where are we going? (Good one!)

Peo­ple dur­ing dot­com boom were reflex­ive, but still they did­n’t see it coming?

Back to the two questions…

How to find twists of history?

Book on 404 — lack of mem­o­ry on inter­net. SS19 mis­siles in USSR: after cold war they’re still made but now to launch satel­lites. Nice exam­ple of reap­pro­pri­a­tion of exist­ing tech.

Mak­ing sense in heat­ed times?

When do col­lec­tives become intel­li­gent and when do they go stupid? 

Rec­om­men­da­tions: keep ties loose, have a diverse collective


Q Do you see a bub­ble 2.0? How does it com­pare to the first one? A It’s much hard­er to get that amount of mon­ey. Finan­cial mar­ket is dif­fer­ent now. Focus is on prod­uct itself. Old­er com­pa­nies aren’t eas­i­ly cheat­ed by web people. 

Q Does he see any rhetoric trends? A Idea of tech deter­min­ism is still there. In a way tech is the start, but it does­n’t hap­pen automatically. 

Q It seems that bub­bles are nec­es­sary for evo­lu­tion. Rev­o­lu­tion has already hap­pened. We’re at the fore­front. Which is nice. A Back then the rhetoric had bad timing.­ingaride-curvesurf­ingandspeed_maniaThe

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Kars Alfrink

Kars is a designer, researcher and educator focused on emerging technologies, social progress and the built environment.