After a first gathering dinner yesterday evening, to which pretty much all of the participants have been able to arrive in time, we enjoyed the first day of the symposium.
Thanks to Kunstraum Goethestraße xtd we have the possibility to be in the middle of the town for the symposium. With only a short delay we, as in Time’s Up, started with a brief introducing Data Ecologies in general and described our approach towards Physical Narratives, in which we see a useful way to present possible futures. We kept our intro rather short, especially since the prime reason having having all these interesting people around, has to do with the fact, that we want to listen, to learn and to find connections which might lead to further cooperations.
Scott Smith started the symposium. Being a professional futurist and being engaged with futures research since 20 years, among other things being the founder of the consulting group Changeist in 2007, he was a great opener of the discussion.
The title of the his talk “Unshocking the Future: Unlocking Artefacts from the Future” already gave away the main focus of his talk. Unshocking the future through seeing the mundanity of it. Futures – as often shown and visualized to us – often misses the normality / the sanity of them. His approach of “The future comes in small increments, in other words: tomorrow is today – just later” is also very obvious in the presentation of a recent project “Winning Formula“, shown during the Future Everything festival in Manchester he was involved in: a physical Football tabloid newspaper that presented near future issues.
After Scott it was Peter von Stackelberg taking over. Within his talk “Transmedia Worldbuilding: Bringing Tomorrow Alive for Today’s Audiences” he presented a detailed routine in how story worlds can be developed. He described the process of what needs to be considered while developing them as well as stressing the issue of the importance of the engagement from an audience. He, as well as Scott, both being professional futurists, emphasized inadequacies of common methods of future forecasting and scenario development with their results very often not reaching out wide enough. Data is just not enough. There needs to be a translation of it, a transformation which allows us, the audience, to understand and to integrate it in our everyday life. Storytelling seems to be an adequate method of bringing future scenarios closer to us, making it more obvious and tangible how dry figures (i.e. the rise of the water level through climate change) will influence us very immediately.
Both futurists have been followed by Eva Lenz, focussing on design for an ”aesthetic of interaction” and Experience Design. Her interest laying in “Designing the Intangible Side of Things” perfectly fitted the former talks in terms of experiences design methods to intensify the involvement and engagement of an audience, user, player (how ever one wants to call them). Based on the assertion that any positive experience involves the fulfillment of psychological needs, such as the need for competence or relatedness for example, she presented the three phase experience design cycle of “anticipation – event – reflection”. In this process she introduced a suite of techniques developed at the Folkwang university. A collection of needs cards were presented, dealing with needs that arise with interaction and social situations.
Mara Dionisio and Julian Hanna, from one of our Future Fabulators partners M-ITI, topped the first symposium day off with a practical example. Embedded in their talk “Possible Pasts, Possible Futures: Exploring Past and Future Scenarios Through Context-Aware Transmedia Stories”, they provided details of their Madeira specific work in progress related to the history of Funchal city and the Laurisilva forest. The project explores the idea of future fabulation, but specifically links futures to the historical past of the region.
We allow ourselves to call it a great first day, being slightly proud even for our choice of speakers!