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We’re conditioned to see the present moment as “normal,” with all the banality that implies. This is not a banal moment. It’s the sort of intense, chaotic moment, full of strange things, that we previously only found in science fiction. “Right now” feels like all of science fiction happening at once, and needs to be considered in that context –Warren Ellis

working notes of Future Fabulators

“Any useful idea about the future should appear to be ridiculous” Dator’s 2nd Law of the Future (Dator 1995)

external / rational

  • can we use predictions to help separate/isolate important, predictable events within a “A Nonpredictive View of the World”? (cf. fragility → robustness → antifragility)
  • what is the question? can it be answered decisively at a particular point in the future? what is at stake? what are the consequences or impacts?

internal / irrational

  • divination / invocation

physical narratives

  • Christine Wilks talking about text as a way for developing character depth; (This probably belongs elsewhere, but…)
    • performing text on screen
    • “Text becomes the equivalent of subtitles” - is this a good thing?
    • Very based around computer games.
    • “Character is a black box” - in PNs, we can only be based on interpretation based on behaviour and its artefacts, not on explicit exposure, unless we have things like “Dear Diary…”
    • Note: Prehearsals are first person narratives, PNs are third person. Thus a Prehearsal can have “more” introspection in some sense.

formalised decision making

A lot of the scenario planning process has to do with Formalised Decision Making and how this is done in groups.

present / future

20140206 Having done several scenario workshops, it seems that the most powerful aspect of the process is the realisation that people usually live in multiple scenarios today - which makes them laugh in recognition, but also helps distill the issues very quickly. How 'futuristic' or accurate the scenario narratives end up being doesn't seem to matter so much. The realisation about their present situation already gives a sense of awareness what's going on and where they'd like to be. It makes the future more open or malleable in a way. So for us the question is how do we emphasise and support this renewed sense of agency? Prehearsals, scenario testing, 'how do we get from here to there' excercises are a good start, but more research is needed.

Here are a few possible research questions and directions (some quite broad, others very specific), collected from various debriefs

How to improve the prehearsal pocket guide? (notes from February 2014)

General questions:

  • 'but why…' (experiential futurism)?
  • how do we encourage a sense of agency amongst the participants when discussing and developing 'possible futures'?
  • what are the historical and current examples of experimental arts and culture as speculative/future labs (e.g. D'Annunzio's Fiume, various communes/intentional communities from the 60s and later, more recently Irrational, Collapsonomics, Future Farmers…?
  • What is the relationship between storytelling and fortunetelling?
  • What online tools exist to make statistical analysis (and other aspects of futures research) available for non-expert futurists?
  • how do we clarify that what we’re doing is not about predicting the future, but about empowering people to be more aware of their present situation and clarify what they could do today to shape their actions to encourage a preferred possible future?
  • what other forms can 'experiencing possible futures' take?
    • what is the shortest and/or longest time in which we can complete meaningful scenario workshops and/or prehearsals to come up with interesting results while keeping the process enjoyable for the participants?
    • what other methods, aside from scenario building, are used to discuss possible futures?
    • what techniques can we use to translate possible future scenarios into experimental situations (improv, role playing games, LARP, disaster drills, meditation)?
    • what is the state of the art in enacting possible futures / parallel presents (e.g. micronations, Kingdom of Elgaland Vargaland, NSK, Near Future Lab, Superflux,
  • how can we help increase the commitment of the participants to work towards their preferred future(s)? how much follow-up is needed?
  • how could we enable participants to use digital tools to enrich the process, while avoiding distractions and displacements of email, social media, etc? what collaborative digital tools could we use to share the same digital working surface (something like Reactable for example)

scenario database

20140205 While editing scenarios it became apparent how tricky it is to keep a consistency in information and layout of the scenarios. The scenario database we're planning to make should make this easier. Components that seem to be needed in all scenarios:

  • what is the question?
  • what are the scenario axes?
  • sometimes we have a short answer to the question (usually created after making the scenarios)
  • how far in the future does the scenario take place?
  • scenario description
  • genaral image(s)
  • more specific/clarifying images
  • links to the pages of related scenarios (and a 'parent' page that describes the workshop goals etc. - not sure if we should include this in the database?)

should we try to contextualise the scenarios directly in the database?

  • a section with links to projects/theories/examples of (the beginnings of) this scenario already taking place today
  • section on how the scenario is turned into a prehearsal (could be in the form of a 'day in the life of…“?
  • reflections on the prehearsal
  • etc.

or should we keep the database only as a 'short story collection'?

a rather bad example of a scenario database is the Millennium Project's Futures Matrix

software & protocols

  • open formats > closed formats
  • utf-8 > ascii/latin-1/etc+
  • documents
    • utf-8 text or ODF (libreoffice, openoffice) for editable docs
    • pdf for reference & archiving
    • VUE for diagrams
  • semi syncronous; email, twitter, irc (freenode → #ff ?)
  • asyncronous; dokuwiki, django, gitlab
  • algorithmic sketching; racket, common lisp, python, git
  • online
  • potentially
    • tumblr, cargo, diasp, other?
    • prediction book
    • wikipedia


Hanna Arendt and 'natality':
Voor Arendt is 'nataliteit' een heel belangrijk begrip - dat is het vermogen van de mens om iets nieuws te beginnen, niet iets dat reageert op een bepaalde context of omstandigheden, maar iets werkelijk compleet nieuws. (Het is net dat vermogen dat in haar analyse in een totalitair systeem vernietigd wordt en daarmee, wat haar betreft, de hele mensheid.) Ik bedoel maar: ik kan me voorstellen dat zo'n soort lectuur ook voedend kan zijn om het over toekomstige scenario's te hebben, zonder dat het er rechtstreeks over gaat. -Lies Declerck

future_fabulators/confabulation.txt · Last modified: 2015/05/20 12:10 by nik