These days, whether the problem is climate change or boredom, there is an app for that. The rhetoric of problem and solution, accelerated by commercial needs and salvific tech gurus, implies that software can save the world. This paper wants to start a movement/rebellion against the ubiquitous equation of P(problem) + S(software) = S(solution) as a rational approach to the ailments of this world. We question the technological effort to "playfully" afford order and control to humans through the provision of computational rules. Instead, we propose an alternative approach: designing 'pataphysical software to address familiar but ultimately imaginary problems. Defined by poet Alfred Jarry, 'pataphysics is the science of imaginary problems. Adopting the methods of 'pataphysics, we have developed mobile applications that explore invented problems and provide no solutions for them. We demonstrate how such an approach allows us to ask design questions through an aesthetic 'pataphysical practice of software development.
Title of host publication
Proceedings of the 2020 ACM Designing Interactive Systems Conference (DIS '20)
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