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Back To The Grind



This publication aims to discuss the future and how technology is affecting working patterns, but also how it will be used to control us. The recent NSA leaks show the darker, reach of the government, and the collection of data on civilians. We are constantly being pushed for more work, more of our time, more results. This has created a nearly complete merging of work and personal life, who doesn’t take their work home? What happens when technology can be used to control us, track our movements, track hours worked. This may seem far fetched but the majority of society are already giving this information away willingly through social media. What does the future hold for humanity?





The Future?

26 The Workplace 30 The Solution CoffeeHouse


in coffee

house History




Regular consumption of coffee began in the Sufi orders of Southern Arabia. A Shadhiliyya shaikh was introduced to coffee drinking in Ethiopia. Coffee drinking spread through the Islamic world between 13th and 15th centuries. By the 16th century coffee drinking had spread and transformed social life throughout the Islamic world for the people within it. Coffee was often labelled as an illegal intoxicant however this view was well opposed by well educated drinkers from the highest ranks of religious and political hierarchy. In Persia, coffeehouses evolved into hotbeds of lasciviousness conversation and political dispute soon after they were introduced. In private valises, coffee reached Venice in 1615, Marseilles in 1644, and London in 1651; but it did not make its official debut into European high society until 1669, when it was introduced to Parisians by the Turkish ambassador, Suleyman Mustapha Koca. Wherever it has been introduced it has become a symbol of hospitality and a vehicle of sociability. We need to return to companionship the Shadhiliyya dervishes enjoyed six hundred years ago, as they gathered to remember Allah and passed the cup from hand to hand.



68 PARIS - 1870




“In Brussa there are seventy five coffeehouses frequented by the most elegant and learned of the inhabitants. All coffeehouses, particularly those near the great mosque, abound with men skilled in a thousand arts.�


The 17th Century French traveler Jean Chardin gave a lively description of the Persian coffeehouse scene:

“People engage in conversation, for it is there that news is communicated and where those interested in politics criticize the government in all freedom and without being fearful, since the government does not heed what the people say.�


Jean Chardin




Let’s go back to when coffee was a stimuli for social interaction and intriguing conversation



“Mollas, dervishes, and poets take turns telling stories in verse or in prose. The narrations by the mollas and the dervishes are moral lessons, like our sermons, but it is not considered scandalous not to pay attention to them. No one is forced to give up his game or his conversation because of it.�



The workplace of the future

CCTV Everywhere?

What is the future?

A Virtual Life?


Technology Ruling Our Lives?


Internet Everywhere The amount of people online has grown by 556% over the past 10 years. It’s expected for there to be wi-fi signal in cafes, restaurants, service stations anywhere. Even if these are not available then people can pay to gain access to the ominous ‘cloud’. An invisible service which provides internet connection wherever you are. There are mobile phone towers all being put up all over the world. If you combine the rapid growth in the cellular grid with the advancements in datastreaming over these wireless cellular networks you can imagine there will be a merger between wi-fi and cellular into one, massive wi-fi network. There will be no difference, the internet as we know it will be this giant, invisible, wireless grid, streaming insane amounts of data and information through the air, like radio stations. Juluis Genachowski, head of Federal Communications Commission have proposed a free super wi-fi network which would replace the broadband we pay for, as well as facilitate other wireless -data technologies like voice calls and in the future driverless cars. Great huh? Well this wi-fi network would also allow the government to monitor the data being sent and received, making it even easier to collect personal data on us.










Hands Free Technology There is now a technology which you can download and it enables you to move you mouse cursor with only facial expressions. There are also articles on hacks for a xbox kinect. Though basic these articles hint at how computer interfaces may be moving away from a mouse and keyboard. The mindflex show the latest developments in mind reading technology, which allows people to control a floating ball with their mind, just consider the applications that are available in the world of computing; serious technology could be made.


r? u o y are



Last year there Researchers at the University of California in Berkeley conducted a study were mapping brainwaves with spoken words. So how far away are we from being able to think ‘computer, turn on the television’. More and more homes are being linked up to one computer, connected to all the devices. Now there are toys which can measure peoples brainwaves, so the technology would probably still require you to wear a hat but then you’d be able to transmit your brainwaves around your home.







sur v eillan It goes without saying that if the previously discussed mind-reading technology becomes a reality, there will be some very real fears about the possibilities of surveillance and privacy invasion if, somehow, someone can detect your brainwaves from afar. Think about it – if your very thoughts can be translated into intelligence, nothing will be private anymore or personal. NASA just launched one of the most impressive infrared sensing satellites known as TIRS (Thermal Infrared Sensor) that can map the temperature signatures of the entire planet every 16 days. So, what if there is eventually a sensor powerful enough to detect individual brainwaves? Is it potentially something that could be developed in the future? Yes, it could. The more wireless we go, the more susceptible the world becomes to those sorts of security issues. The world will go that way, and these will be the security issues that people will face.

eillan c e





Where does this leave the general workforce?

Vulnerable to say the least. We are a tech savvy society, that link up anywhere virtually around the world. Social media is a huge part of our life, but physical communications seem to be losing their impact. More and more people spend more time looking into their screen. Even when looking at one screen we need to stare at another. Second screen use has gone up so much there is now a industry being built around advertising to people on the internet while they watch something on the tv, predicting their second screen usage. Companies are pushing this idea of a flexible life style, and sure why not? So you can work for them all the time? On you lunch, on your way to work, on the return to home, at home, always connected, no escape from work. This may sound dramatic but people are already seeing a blurring of their personal and work lives. Social media is playing a part in this. Some people say it increases their productivity when they use it at work. This combining of social media and work is already happening with such profiles as linked in, when will all you personal information, photos, interests be available along with your cv? Connectivity all over the world means people can be online all the time. When will you be offline?

If your brain is connected to the internet through hands free computing, will your brain ever be offline? Notifications to your brain? Once hands free computing is within the workplace, to increase ‘productivity’, when will companies start using it to monitor their employee’s activity. This is a technology people want. People want the ability to be able to control their appliances, search the web through their mind, but if you’re using a computer to read brainwaves, then a larger computer can collect those brainwaves; your thoughts. People wanted the internet, its amazing. No one wanted to be monitored by the government or have personal data collected about them, but we did. If a company can use such technology, like NASA has already developed, then they will be able to track employees and their work. Even now people’s personal information is tracked and recorded, your personal conversations. Coffee shops are often presented as the hub wireless, on the go, up to date workers. People connect to anyone around the world virtually, but hardly ever the person next to them.


When coffeehouses first opened they were a place of free speech, where people could talk about politics and relax, in the future people may once again crave this. They represented a social support. Now people just want to get on the grid when they get to a coffee shop. In the future this will represent the technological backlash, people that want anonymity from the scanning government, social interaction, relaxation from work, disconnection, off the grid, out of the crowd, away from the grind of work and into the grind of social interaction with the coffeehouse.




The solution to this workplace of the future, and likely for some a current workplace, problem was to create and promote events which were centred around the ideology of how coffee houses use to be. A place of discussion, conversation, debate a physical social reaction between people. These events would take place around Bristol in independent coffee shops. There would be a speaker who would present a topic to give the event a bit of stability, rather than just a social. It would also provide the people there a topic to begin conversations on after the talk. These event would be aimed at people who want a bit of stimulating conversation and to unwind from work and their increasingly digital life.




Design Historical context that the idea was based on influenced design. This may not be obvious communication tool to someone just looking at the poster, however these Islamic groups were some of the first coffee drinkers using it for social interaction; which is what this campaign is about.










Why Posters? The use of posters again promotes physical interaction. It also has a link back to promotion of events without the use of the internet. This is what the event is all about, getting of the internet and talking so the promotion should take place like this to. It also feels more like a protest putting up posters. The link between the research into the technological future and the past of coffee was originally made due to the idea of more government surveillance in the future and the freedom of speech on coffee shops of the past. Therefore these sort of event were a protest in themselves in the future by going to them and disconnected from being online.


OFF The Grid into the grind

Back To The Grind  

A publication documenting my response to the RSA workplace of the future brief

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