Fabien Girardin

Work Biography References

Working backwards.

Technology is not inherently good or bad. It just amplifies what humans feed it. I believe the best way to design a technology starts by anticipating how people might co-evolve with it. Therefore, I help teams innovate by focusing on outcomes rather than particular features of technologies. My practice applies a vision-driven approach that propels concepts into the near future to anticiapte their appropriations. I transform these explorations into visual and tangible forms to make sure any team member can agree on the what and the why of a project. These probes help find the useful fits of a technology within people's lives as well as uncover potential future challenges. As a result, teams can work their way backwards to bend visions of the desirable and to plan the efforts to get there.

I occasionaly write about my practice:

Experience Design in the Machine Learning Era, December 9, 2016

Documenting the State of Contemporary Technology, October 16, 2016

The Life and Death of Data Products, July 12, 2016

Social Media at Human Pace, January 11, 2016

The Global Village and its Discomfort, December 10, 2015

Our Approach of Design Fiction, October 15, 2015

Some of my recent public projects include:

Humans: an app that promotes social media hygiene

Memento: a platform that connects a traveler's present to another traveler's future

6andMe: a fictional diagonistic service of social media related pathologies

Quadrigram: a data visualization environment to sketch with data

Latrl: an app that recommends places based on analogies

Winning Formula: a fictional newspaper that puts in your hands a possible day in the future of football


Swiss born based in Spain.

Fabien Girardin (PhD) is a researcher, engineer and creator who co-founded the Near Future Laboratory, a micro-multinational design and research agency based in California and Europe. He also works at BBVA Data & Analytics, a center of excellence in financial data analysis, where he leverages his broad and comprehensive understanding of both computational constraints and human behaviors to transform machine learning algorithms into user experiences that are future forward.

Throughout his career, Fabien has pioneered works at the intersection of user experience and data science. Most notably, he developed Digital Footprinting techniques that analyze traces of human activity picked up by digital devices to improve the observations of mobility[1], urban attractiveness[2] and hyper-congestion[3]. Also he co-created Quadrigram, a visual programming environment that democratizes data manipulation and visualization as part of a practice he coined as Sketching with Data [4].

Fabien holds a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science and Digital Communications[5] from Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF) in Barcelona, Spain. Along his academic journey, he was also affiliated with the Senseable City Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Prior to his graduate studies, he joined the Swiss Federal Institute of Technologies in Lausanne (EPFL) to manage and investigate the use of collaborative applications. Subsequently, Fabien co-founded Simpliquity, an EPFL spin-off that produced an air-travel detection system used in experience sampling surveys for the Boeing Company[6]. Earlier in 1997, he developed a web directory popular in Switzerland that he later sold [7] to finance his studies at the Biel School of Engineering and move to Silicon Valley.

In addition to occasionally lecture in universities, design and business schools, Fabien speaks in international conferences such as O'Reilly Strata, TEDx, Picnic, Lift, IoT Shift, Barcelona Design Week, and the Smart City World Congress.

Finally, his work was exhibited at CCCB, the National Football Museum in Manchester[8], the Design Museum of Barcelona, Laboral of Gijón.[9] and Fundación Telefónica in Madrid, Mexico City and Lima.


Selected Publications

[1] Girardin, F., Calabrese, F., Dal Fiore, F., Ratti, C., and Blat, J. (2008). Digital footprinting: Uncovering tourists with user-generated content. IEEE Pervasive Computing, 7(4):36-43.

[2] Girardin, F., Vaccari, A., Gerber, A., Biderman, A., and Ratti, C. (2009). Quantifying urban attractiveness from the distribution and density of digital footprints. International Journal of Spatial Data Infrastructure Research, 4:175-200.

[3] Girardin, F. (2013). Insights from network data analysis that yield field observations. Ethnography matters.

[4] Girardin, F. (2015). Sketching with Data, in New Challenges for Data Design. pp 189-205 Bihanic, David (Ed.), Springer

[5] Girardin, F. (2009). Aspects of implicit and explicit human interactions with ubiquitous geographic information. PhD thesis, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

[6] Girardin, F., Nova, N., and Dillenbourg, P. (2009). Detecting air travel to survey passengers on a worldwide scale. Journal of Location-Based Services, 3(3):210-226.

Exhibited work

[8] Winning Formula at National Football Museum in Manchester, CCCB and Fundacion Telefonica Madrid, Santiago de Chile (2014)

[9] World's Eyes at Design Museum of Barcelona and LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial (2009)

Selected media coverage

Qui sera responsable des maladies de la connexion?, Le Monde, February 25, 2016.

Muchos números para el fútbol, El Periodico, July 27, 2015.

Un catálogo de Ikea de ciencia ficción muestra el futuro de la tecnología, El Confidencial, July 2, 2015.

Interview with Fabien Girardin. Co-founder of Near Future Laboratory, Smart City Business Institute , December, 2014.

El 'efecto Mona Lisa' guia cada paso de los turistas en el Louvre, El Periodico, February 6, 2012.

La nouvelle science des données, InternetActu, July 12, 2010.

Flickr Photos Yield Tourist Trails, Technology Review, June 15, 2010.

Quelle ville voulons-nous offrir ? Quelle ville espérons-nous recevoir ?, Le Monde, March 6, 2009.

Internet revela los movimientos de los turistas en las ciudades, El Periodico, March 31, 2008.

[7] Avec Yoodle.ch, deux entrepreneurs rêvent d'un Yahoo à la sauce edelweiss, Le Temps, March 11, 2000.

Fabien Girardin. 1995-2016 All Rights Reserved