Whole Earth Catalog

What would you contribute to DesignInquiry’s look at this year’s topic while you are here?
In addition to collaborating with Gail Swanlund and one or two other ACCESS Inquirers on a present day reimagining of the Whole Earth Catalog,  I would like to explore how accessing our split second reactions to a suggestion might help us work through design ideas. Using the 1942 book Fortune Telling for Fun and Popularity as a guide, I will create fortune telling charts that will provide us with potential answers to design questions. This activity is based on the idea that the most compelling thing about the one-line fortunes found in fortune cookies (and the ones I’m proposing) is that the recipient can’t help but try to fill in the gaps between the broad language of the fortune and his/her own circumstances to make the fortune applicable. It is the way in which we position these fortunes in the first seconds after reading them that is often more helpful than the fortune itself. By writing these one-liners myself and framing them for DI, my hope is that we use the suggestions given to us during the operation and our individual tendencies in split second thinking as tool for providing us with one possible way to better understand our aims for the week.

Because a “prophecy” provided by a fortune teller at a traveling carnival feels more significant than one in a fortune cookie from a local restaurant, the exercise will be conducted as a ritual in triangulating the past, present and future.  We will bring our attention to the present by eating something I’m calling a “time based dessert” (or a dessert that must be consumed immediately such as a soufflé or cherries jubilee) on fortune telling placemats I’ve designed using the book from the past as a starting point and the future will be represented by the fortune telling itself.

What will you contribute after the gathering in the form of publishable work?
I would like to make the charts I create available on the DI website.