Briefing against risk (Part 1)

In this two-part guest blog, Simon Foxell discusses the challenges of briefing in the context of risk and uncertainty and the need to address concurrent issues of managing demographic change and reversing environmental damage.

Image source: Birdman photos

We live in a risky and increasingly, riskier, world, or at least a world where we are much more aware of risk than ever before and tend to employ avoidance strategies of numerous sorts. That such strategies rarely address real risks and prefer to focus on perceived ones with their, now familiar – but apparently almost impossible to contain, cognitive biases shouldn’t obscure the need to factor in real future risks. Briefing is, amongst other things, a matter of effectively, and with the right tools, projecting rationally into the future, describing its needs and dangers and flagging up possible ways of dealing with them. It is a means of coping with uncertainty by gathering and interpreting information that reduces that uncertainty. It attempts to mitigate risk: to the project, but also to the wider context – social and environmental – and much else beyond.

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Cosmic circularity in the world of briefing (Part 1)

Just before joining our last Sounding Panel session on design for human experience, Anna Maskiell from Public Realm Lab took a moment to reflect on the past.

Information Technology department, Thycon Industries, Coburg (Wolfgang Sievers, 1984)

1983 was a pretty big year as far as I’m concerned. I was born (always useful!), Fraggle Rock debuted and the Thriller video was released (still influential in the schoolyard 9 or 10 years later). Wolfgang Sievers continued to document the landscape of work in Melbourne, but the heroic images of Australian manufacturing were starting to give way to images of knowledge workers, in their salmon cubicles under a relentless march of ceiling tiles.

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