Welcome to Dataland: Design fiction at the most magical place on earth
Disney properties have more often been scorned as “false” than celebrated as tentative. But Walt Disney always saw them as provisional and speculative, even if his successors haven’t always followed his lead. Endeavors like Tomorrowland and EPCOT and their ilk are undoubtedly tactical, sponsored, corporate speech. But they are not just cynical commercial products. Like World’s Fairs, Disney parks are spaces where people negotiate with alternate experiences. They are mass-market examples of what the science-fiction writer Bruce Sterling has called design fiction, a kind of design that “tells worlds rather than stories.”
One of the most beneficial and timely reads of the year, at least for me. As far as I know this is the first piece to look at this Disney World MagicBand thing in the context of how the resort was originally envisioned.
While I’ve been hesitant to get too invested in any perspective on the MyMagic+ initiative until I’ve had a chance to use it myself, I’ve certainly read a good amount of praise and criticism (more the latter than the former) — mostly split between shades of “this makes planning so easy and efficient” and “I don’t want to plan every minute of my vacation and/or be tracked by a computer 24/7.” Both of which are legit.
But far more interesting to me is how, as Ian Bogost points out here, through MM+ Walt Disney World is — finally? — testing “future” technology in a dynamic, everyday living environment, as the original EPCOT city concept was intended to. The planned execution may have differed, but the scale and uniqueness of the initiative are essentially the same. No one is doing what Disney is doing with MM+. It is a “living blueprint of the future,” whether we like the implications of that future or not.
Thanks to Foxxy for the link.