Throughout life, we’re constantly thinking about the future. Yet, says Elliott P. Montgomery, “we have very few methods, models, or tools for doing so in constructive ways.”
“Our visions for the future are often colonized by mainstream imagery: flying cars in Hollywood films and reductive red/blue political rhetoric,” says Montgomery, faculty member in the BBA Strategic Design and Management program at Parsons School of Design. “We only have meagre forums for constructing alternative visions.”
However, there is one entity that is trying to fill that gap. Founded by Montgomery and artist and speculative design consultant Chris Woebken, the Extrapolation Factory is an “imagination-based studio” that has been organizing experimental events that streamline expert futures research tools for use by everyone, from government employees to public school students.
Montgomery and Woebken dive into the details of the studio’s work in their new English and Chinese language book, Extrapolation Factory Operator’s Manual. They celebrate the release of the book with a launch event on Thursday, Aug. 11, 7-10 pm at Sunview Luncheonette, 221 Nassau Ave, Brooklyn.
“In Extrapolation Factory Operator’s Manual, Chris and I capture the studio’s democratized futures work and elucidate on strategies culled from think tanks and futurists as well as models and techniques we have developed for organizing collaborative futures explorations,” Montgomery says. “As social movements form in a flash, government leadership perches on shaky pillars, and technology whizzes a mile a minute, it seems that public access to futures-research is all but imperative.”
He continues, “While there is great need for competent expert futurists, these visionaries in ivory towers should not be the only ones responsible for rigorously imagining future possibilities—all of us should be actively envisioning the scenarios we want to live, and working to identify paths toward those worlds.”
Montgomery recently co-led Mobility Speculations, a project initiated by Parsons and Ford Motor Company in which students from Parsons’ MFA Transdisciplinary Design program proposed “speculative design interventions” reimagining the future of urban mobility.