In their article, Boyd explains that “The goal of a prefigurative intervention is twofold: to offer a compelling glimpse of a possible, and better, future, and also — slyly or baldly — to point up the poverty of imagination of the world we actually do live in” (Boyd). This quote highlights the purpose of prefigurative intervention and how it should be utilized to stimulate human progress. Prefigurative intervention is political in that its primary motivations are to cause change in the existing society; some people are going to agree, and others are going to disagree. Regardless of its impact, prefigurative intervention starts a conversation around imagining.
Society is suffering from a lack of imagination according to Boyd’s quote mentioned above. To increase the creativity of the general public, there is a need to show people how to ideate and visualize. The Combination Station is a technology that is placed in public spaces across the world. At these stations, each person, both in a different place, will type in an object they want to iterate on. When both parties have selected their item, it will display on the screen and the two people will begin to imagine a technology using those two items. What makes this interesting is that these people may have different cultural knowledge on a specific object which breeds good conversation and serendipity. Aside from developing ideas together, they could also develop a friendship.
This technology would exist in a world where people are comfortable with meeting someone random, they do not know. The world may have to be more cosmopolitan than it is now for this technology to have frequent users. This technology is supposed to cultivate good conversation and interaction but could easily be misused used to offend and emotionally harm people of a different cultures. The emotional IQ of society may be the indicator whether or not this technology reach its goal of fostering imagination and eliciting the idea that we do not use our imagination anymore. Depending on where these Combination Stations are, they may or may not get used (for example, city park vs. rural parks, summer months vs. winter months, and countries of differing languages). This technology if created would make innovation and collaboration available to every class in society – a type of social capital that only the privileged have.
The Combination Station is a great way to facilitate ideation and stimulate the imagination of people from all different places in the world. Considering Boyd’s claim that prefigurative intervention is a way “to point up the poverty of imagination of the world we actually do live in” (Boyd), implies that people are not imagining anymore. The ability to imagine a future is a political power – an ability only afforded to a few. Not all people in society are able to give mental energy into a technology that could change the world when they are preoccupied with surviving. The Combination Station provides people the mechanism to ideate with diverse minds. Boyd mentions the “poverty of imagination” as if to shame people themselves for not imagining, but the Combination Station sees the root of “poverty of imagination” as the inaccessibility to imagine, and the Combination Station addresses that. If everyone were provided the opportunity to imagine, there would not be a perceived suppression of it.
Boyd, Andrew. Tactic: Prefigurative Intervention. Andrew Boyd and Dave Oswald Mitchell, eds., 2012. Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution. OR Books. http://beautifultrouble.org/tactic/prefigurative-intervention/