Student masterclass

More-than-human fictions

Tuesday 8 December; 10:00-12:00

Smart, connected, and intelligent devices, and the algorithms behind them, are more than passive and used objects, but actors that influence the world that they share with us. New companions that roam our floors and that we talk to in our homes, new co-workers that we collaborate within our offices, and new autonomous infrastructure and robot citizens that we share our cities with. In this scenario talking about ‘user-centered’ gets quite confusing as users might not be humans, but things themselves.

In my design practice in the past 10 years, I focused on various ways to explore what it means to be an object in this connected and complex world. I have been designing sharing services to please toasters needs, political systems for power plugs to decide how to turn on lights, and VR experiences for people to experience life as a vacuum cleaner. I discovered that sometimes switching your perspective from yourself to the things that are around us and often designing, can unlock sometimes weird, but sometimes amazing ideas, scenarios, and projects.

The workshop

In this two-hour workshop, we will go through some thoughts, theories, and projects to get in the mindset of looking at the world and designing from a perspective that is ‘other’ than human and more in particular of mundane, connected, objects in a home or in a city. 

We will then work on short stories/scenarios on a common Google Doc, where you will have to abandon your human self and explore the daily life of a device, the interactions with humans and non-humans, the surprises that emerge from looking at the world from that perspective and find a way to tell that story in written form. We will then mix up the stories and find common threads between them ending up with a collection of short stories and point of views which will tell about the more-than-human world that we are living in.

Simone Rebaudengo

Simone’s work focuses on exploring the implications of living and interacting with networked, smart and autonomous systems. Sometimes they are real products, sometimes they are fictional. He is partner at and founding partner at

Student masterclass

Smart Seesaws

Tuesday 8 December; 10:00-13:00

Designing the future of charity donations through the use of smart contracts

This masterclass is run by researchers from Edinburgh University and offers you the opportunity to explore the future of charity donations which can be personalised and controlled through the use of blockchain-backed smart contracts. These contracts give a donor the opportunity to donate money which is held under specific conditions. Once these conditions are met, the contract is carried out and the money is released to the charity.

The masterclass will start with a brief introduction to a smart contract and how it can be used to personalise and control the release of charity donations.

The workshop will then move to Miro (an online collaboration whiteboard) where we will work through an example of how a contract could be written and personalised by a donor.

You will then be split into small groups where you will develop your own vision for a smart donation. What event will trigger the release of money held in escrow, how long might the contract last, and how do you

The world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, so the second half of the workshop will focus on the dark side of smart donations. Groups will swap ideas and try to come up with ways in which people and organisations cheat the system for their own gain.

The workshop will finish with a discussion exploring under what conditions does society start to trust a smart contract, and how we can implement those conditions to a dumb digital system.

Prof Chris Speed is Chair of Design Informatics at the University of Edinburgh where his research focuses upon the Network Society, Design for the Digital Economy, and The Internet of Things.

Dr Chris Elsden is a post-doctoral research associate in Design Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. Chris is primarily working on the AHRC Creative Informatics project.

Jonathan Rankin is a researcher in the centre for the decentralised digital economy and the acting programme director for Product Design at the university.

Student masterclass

IoT cares for you

Tuesday 8 December; 9:30-13:00

The Internet of Things promises a connected world that transparently supports a life in comfort for those who (know how to) use it. Augmented by smart algorithms and lots of juicy personal data, the technology is presented like a butler that seemingly acts on our thoughts and if necessary, on our voices. The future is fantastic! Or is it? This workshop critically explores the techno-optimistic vision that is implicit in many IoT endeavors. Hop along, it will be fun!

The workshop

The workshop critically investigates the dynamic multi-person / multi-activity scenarios around connected and smart products. It aims to surface the complexities that arise when designing connected products and when value systems of users, designers and companies clash.The workshop is designed to be completely online, we will use a video conferencing platform to present and talk and use a Miro based IoT Sandbox to collaborate. The workshop takes place on Tuesday 8th of December 2020, starting at 9:30, ending at 13:00. We will hand out a homework assignment before the workshop.

impression of the IoT Sandbox

Workshop organisers

  • Joep Frens is assistant professor in the FE cluster. He has a design background and specialises in deigning for (rich) interaction in growing systems.
  • Mathias Funk is associate professor in the FE cluster. He has a background in computer science and specialises in systems design from a design tools perspective


To be able to join the masterclasses you need to be registered as student participant. We will send all registered students an invitation to choose a masterclass.