(extracted from 'Where to find everyday futures?' section of 'Futurish')

“The Future Mundane”: http://hellofosta.com/2013/10/07/the-future-mundane/

Building on this argument, Scott Smith provided a series of how-to steps to help design for “unnamed characters” or “everyday-life experts”. The steps are the following:

  • Examine complex systems
  • Explore subtleties rather than extremities
  • Provide an experiential on-ramp for the non-professional
  • Rely less on overt polemic, more on extrapolation
  • Seek out entrenchment and recursion as well as advancement
  • Calibrate uncanniness
  • Guide the audience toward a future

To illustrate some of these principles, he describes the Winning Formula,1 a project conceived by Fabien Girardin and launched in collaboration with Near Future Laboratory and other participants of the FutureEverything2 festival in 2014. The project, originally based in the National Football Museum in Machester, UK, included a mock newspaper set four years into the future (in April 2018) that was inserted into 130,000 copies of the Manchester Evening News and distributed in the museum and around the city.

“From the outset, rather than make a high-concept, flatpack app-driven view of a fantastic future or focus on the usual suspects of robotics or tiny drones, the team wanted to give the newspaper, which we called Today with intentional irony, as much of a realistic, mundane feel as possible in appearance and content. We wanted it to be a practical, simple and ephemeral artifact, one that could hide in plain sight. With Today, we wanted to depict an uneven near future where the major dynamics which shape the everyday carrying on as they typically do—punctuated by evolutions, interjections and disruptions presented by rapidly evolving technologies, but grounded in a believable reality.”3

The believable reality can have different positions in the “cone of possibility”4 that distinguishes between the probable, plausible and possible futures; the probable is closest to our everyday present and is likely to come to pass if nothing much changes; the plausible is in the conceptual middle distance; and the possible on the outer fringes. The Winning Formula seems probable at the surface, but several plausible, possible and even unlikely scenarios hide in plain sight if the reader pays attention. When picked up, it seems ordinary and strangely familiar, but for those who dig deeper it reveals details that could not exist just yet, but are looming over the horizon.

(edit and revoicing required)

  • futurist_fieldguide/future_mundane.txt
  • Last modified: 2015-05-20 14:02
  • by alkan