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Exploring a New Way to Interact with Time

Organization / Institution:               Parsons School of Design

Role:                                           Co- Explorer

Collaborators:                               Shachi Shah

Location:                                      New York 


Today, time rules our lives. It dictates the flow of all our systems and activities. It is an essential tool for tracking growth and development.

However, there are significant discrepancies between the study of spacetime, the current construct of time, and the lived human experience with the passage of time. 

These discrepancies have acute social and cultural implications. How might we bring harmony and redesign the human experience with time?


Design fiction concept exploration


November 2017

Key Contribution


Foresight exploration


The Challenge

Throughout human history, the notion of time differed across cultures. In some cultures time is/was percieved as linear while others percived it to be cyclic in nature. Some cultures understood time as deeply personal, changing from person to person and from context to context.

The modern notion of standardized time was designed for efficent rail and later maritime coordination. This was first adopted by railway companies in Britan in 1847. It was not until the 20th century that worldwide time zones universally adopted the standard offset from GMT/UTC. The last country to do so was Nepal, as recent as 1956. Following a universally standard method for timekeeping, provided the right conditions for global trade, communication and travel to flourish.

Today, technology enables us to live in a hyper-networked, seemingly borderless world where some version of us is present across multiple time zones. In this world, being 'on time' increasingly implies being 'in sync'. 

There is also an increasing acceptance of time as not standard but individual. In the fringes of human society we have begun to see educators who are experimenting with new mechanisms to track progress centered around the student's learning curve, workspaces with relaxed deadlines, health and wellness proffessionals who are more respectful of an individual's healing time.

The objective of this project is to suspend disbelief, paint a future notion of time and use that as an artifact to generate a conversation around this topic. Is there a need to relook at our present notion of time? If so, what are some preffered directions? 

"The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion"



Mapping out signals



A change in the natural order of effects and connections



Catalyzing events that increases attention  to this topic



Emerging practices and tools that support this paradigm 



What are some hacks that people use in the absence of an alternative



Examples of people pushing boundaries and exploring alternative




Extremely unusual outliers

A few examples of signals from the edge


"We are moving from a society desirous of instant gratification to a society of instant anticipation. We no longer want things that can be delivered immediately; we want to move the future forward, toward us, so that the future is no longer a frame of reference for measuring time but a kind of extended present."

- Lizzie Buchen, Discover Magazine

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Using the Futures Cone to Project Multiple Future Paths


Mapping present signals to project plausible futures


Outcome - Design Futures

World Building

Our concept operates in the context of a positive future scenario where society is made resilient by the turbulences of the early 21st century. This new society is versitile enough adapt to a diverse array of emerging industries, well equipped in the face of disruption, where the whole is the sum of modular well networked parts and agile enough to iterate and re-iterate solutions.

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The Concept of Time in This New World

We envision a future where time is both contextually cognitive and intuitive, where time is coded with empathy, collectively synced and programmed to promote optimal holistic performance.

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