What kind of future do you want? Planning a preferable future

2019 Workshop


Technology seems to be supporting faster and more radical social changes. As the architects of technology we need to be conscious and intentional in our choices. We should try to anticipate the impact that our decisions might have on the contexts which contain but also result from our designs.

We all contribute to the future in every decision we make – what kind of future do you want?

In this workshop we’ll share our experience working in the world’s largest public service broadcaster alongside a set of techniques we’ve been using to consider the future. The BBC exists to inform, educate and entertain. But in recent years media consumption has led some to feel the need for a digital detox. And media coverage and “fake news” have been accused of supporting the manipulation of democracy. We care about the future and the information architecture that will underpin it.

In this workshop we’ll look at psychological needs and drivers that are deep, core and affected by the environment. Alongside these we’ll consider contextual and shifting social, technological, economical, environmental and political factors. We’ll share tools to adopt a critical outlook to consider ‘now’ and what’s around the corner. Charles Eames said that “recognising the need is the primary condition for design”. We don’t think he’s wrong. But needs shift at different rates. While fundamental needs remain static, it’s easy to get diverted by fashionable needs that drive an industry obsessed with innovation.

We’ll use a modular kit of speculative design tools that allow us to map out future alternatives through a human values lens, in order to inform debate around what’s preferable. 

This workshop is not about predicting the future – it’s about preparedness and intention. What kind of future do you want? And how will you make it happen?

About the speaker(s)

As Creative Director for UX architecture (UXA) and Design Research at the BBC, Dan Ramsden leads a team of information architects who are committed to making the BBC’s tools, content and experiences more meaningful and connected. He’s responsible for defining the professional practice of UXA at the BBC and ensuring that the organisation is creating information architecture that delivers the best possible experiences to its editors and audiences.


Dan has previously worked for agencies and ran a theatre company. He now designs labels, vocabularies, URLs, navigation, strategies and processes. He likes jokes, magic and making the most of moments. He also like alliterations. He lives just outside Sheffield (UK) with a wife, a child, and a cat called Rosa.

North (aka Christian) Kuras is an information architecture practitioner, UX designer and artist. He’s been running a digital consultancy for over 10 years, working with small to medium companies and cultural organisations. North is currently working on the domain model for an online learning environment that will deliver training in traditional drawing and drafting skills to professional engineers and architects.
Emily Heath spent the last 2 years improving navigation and content discovery across BBC Children’s ecosystem, helping kids discover more content they’ll love: from games, learning apps and quizzes, to TV shows and fan content. She’s now moved into a central UXA team working on pan-BBC projects like global navigation and URL design. Emily has been a UX architect at the BBC since 2014 and prior to this, she ran a digital agency called Exploded View. There, Emily designed and built information-rich websites for a wide range of arts organisations and SMEs. Emily has a daily yoga practice to keep her grounded and does acroyoga whenever she feels like taking off.

Rob Scott is a User Experience Architect for BBC Design + Engineering, currently working on UX&D’s Spatial Immersive Design team exploring how 2D digital designers transition to thinking and working spatially. Before this, he worked within BBC Education on products like BBC Food and BBC Bitesize, and spent time working on the‘Global Experience Language’. Prior to the BBC, he spent 7 years with a niche provider of meaningful travel experiences, constructing the IA for CRMs, flight booking and event management systems. He also co-organizes the VR Manchester Meetup and will talk about the difference between ‘presence’ and ‘immersion’ for hours if you let him.

Vicky is a UX Architect at the BBC, currently working on creating consistent navigation, and experience across the many tools journalists use to create content. Previously she worked at an agency helping charities organise all their complicated information into beautiful and positive user experiences, and even more previously she was a librarian. She lives in London and spends her spare time organising noisy music events and taking pictures of them.