This is republished from Issue 20 of the Design Fiction Newsletter. You can subscribe to the newsletter here: and that way get the dispatches freshly baked in your inbox.

For the past years, the outsized narrative of DAO [Decentralized Autonomous Organization] as an alternative to venture capital dims the light of its much more profound, and much more interesting potential — a fluid, programmable, modular social network that is by design global, transparent, and collaborative. DAO has the potential to become a new frontier of belonging, to create a new species of collective characterized by the alienation of trust…

This is a re-syndication of The Design Fiction Newsletter 002. If you like this, why not subscribe? And if you believe in supporting good, meaty, thoughtful content like this, why not become a Patron on, you know — Near Future Laboratory Patreon. Your support would be most appreciated! It’s a strong signal that this material is meaningful to you in the form of, essentially, a cup of coffee which is known to always helps with writing.

One: Consider the Diegetic Prototype

What was that box of breakfast cereal doing in Minority Report, anyway? A sci-fi film set in the future? And breakfast cereal?

Isn’t the…

This is a re-post of Issue One of my Design Fiction Newsletter. You can subscribe here to receive each issue:

One — The Future As An Email Attachment

Have you ever gotten one of these emails? Where the future is zipped up into a PowerPoint deck and then sent around in an email with the expectation that the recipients will open and read it and then become excited about what they see?

If you’re in the corporate strategy racket you’ve probably received an expensive PowerPoint deck cobbled together by some analyst or McKinsey-like operation and trotted out as “predictions”.

It’ll quite likely be full of any number…

I’ve been struggling these months trying to write another of the required Pitch Decks you have to put together when you’re in a funding round. My eyes were glazing over looking at lots of my old pitch decks trying to figure out how best to represent the Vision I had.

Translating a Vision into bullet points resulted in ‘slides’ that lacked the kind of acuity I thought the Vision deserved. Representing my imagination through clip art, and Excel graphs was like trying to enjoy a meal of broken glass. …

You know those Org Charts you see for companies? The ones with boxes with names and titles and arrows and lines connecting employees and managers?
I could draw one for Omata. It’d be pretty simple. Lots of boxes, lots of roles, but just two names, Julian and Cary.

One or each of us would be in every box.

That would be it. Two of us here, dedicated to making products that are focused on the spirit of being outdoors experiencing both humble and epic adventures.

It’d be true to say that besides the two of us, there’s a platoon of…

We’re a tiny operation here at Omata.

But that doesn’t stop us from keeping true to the values and vision I’ve had for Omata since Day 0, December 31, 2014.

It takes a particular kind of persistence and grit and perserverance to continue doing what we do with only two people around.

The value in this kind of gritty operation is that we’ve built a remarkably rich connection to our fans and customers. We care about them deeply and we enjoy the connections we’re able to establish.

Unlike most technical product companies, when something goes wrong with our product it hurts my heart. I want to do anything I can to make it work again. That sometimes means doing surgery-like repairs, rather than throwing things away.

This is ambitious. Building great, meaningful, compelling products and brands start with ambition, and high hopes.

Five years ago I started this company to reconsider what a bicycle computer could be.

It was as much a thought experiment as it was an idea for a product.

The design brief was roughly this: if there was a future in which digital devices were designed to be more consistent with the contexts in which they are used, and if you were to imagine that future of the bicycle computer, what would it become?

In other words, take cycling and make a cycling computer that looks like it was designed by a cycling enthusiast who loved the form…

Gravel riding is deep in the DNA of Omata.

How’s that?

When I started riding bikes not too long ago — around 2014 — I was riding local dirt on a single-speed mountain bike trying to make my way. It was a humbling experience, and one through which I fell in love with riding bikes. I was mostly riding bikes on the exquisite back trails just off the choked city streets of my neighborhood in Venice Beach, CA.

It was on these trails — generally well-groomed fire roads and the occasional single track — that I found a sanctuary from…

It’s a great day when a few of your passions collide. For me, its cycling, cinema and making things. Who would’ve thought there would be a day when there would be a book that could legit go on the studio bookshelf called “Cycling and Cinema” would be quickly followed by one that could also legit go up on the bookshelf — a detailed “behind the scenes” process manual to “A Sunday In Hell”

It’s happened. Just last month. What follows is a short note on the books, hopefully enough to encourage you to dig deeper into these two remarkable works.

For all the folks who would immerse themselves in the lovely, nerdy arcane aspects and debates around bicycle frame building, what’s the perfect kind of bike, or what bike to add to their quiver (and why..), I present to you a discussion amongst five discerning frame builders.

On January 25 2019, Aaron Stinner (Stinner Frameworks), John Caletti (Caletti Cycles), Tom Ritchey (Ritchey Logic), Sam Pickman (Allied Cycle Works) and Hern Montenegro (Montenegro Mfg) gathered at our local RCC Los Angeles Clubhouse to talk about design, frame building and the future of cycling. Moderated by Annalisa Fish from @wegotohangout.

Settle in and watch. I hope you enjoy.

Julian Bleecker

Founder of Near Future Laboratory & OMATA. Venice Beach, California. Does Design-Engineering for More Habitable Futures.

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