Presentation at the “As Above, So Below” drone culture symposium

Last weekend I (Conor) attended a fantastic event at Lincoln organised by the School of Media. This was a one-day colloquium on drone culture called “As Above, So Below.”  The aim of the event was stated as:

This event will map the immanent forces of drone culture across a variety of disciplines and phenomena, and in doing so disclose its various political and ethico-aesthetic expressions.

There was a really interesting mix of disciplines and topics and presentation styles. I certainly learned lots about accelerationism and also got a healthy reminder that I need to go off and read that Deleuze and Guattari book I bought last year.


My own contribution to the event was a short 5-minute “speed paper” that was essentially a provocation regarding design thinking. Here’s the abstract:


The Participatory Design of Military Drone Technology

Researchers in the field of interactive technology design have recently become enamoured with a process referred to as participatory design; an inclusive and empathic set of design practices that aim to give people power to influence the design of technologies that will impact upon their lives. The process is intended to confer dignity to all stakeholders, while improving the acceptability of the solution to the general public. We propose the application of participatory practices to the design of military drone technology. Specifically, a series of workshops will be carried out in war torn third world countries, where participants will be invited to contribute to the design of the military attack drones that will inevitably fill their skies. Tea and coffee will, of course, be provided. This participatory process will improve the public image, and acceptability, of drones in Western culture, as it makes potential victims complicit in their design. The talk will explore design as a method of circumventing ethics and morals, as well as contrasting design processes appropriate for services done for you and those done to you.


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