A Booksprint, Data Ecologies and Lucid Dreaming all at once

Just a bit more than a month ago Time’s Up came back from an art project carried out in Zimbabwe and South Africa. What happened since then in these few weeks is again, similar to our trip throughout some southern parts of Africa: rather overwhelming, challenging and highly inspiring for further developments.

It started off with Data Ecologies 14, a biennial symposium we established more than ten years ago. Barely two weeks after our arrival back to Austria, the conference was about to be started. This year’s subject matter, strongly connected to Future Fabulators, has been subtitled with: “Tools and Language to Think out Loud about Futures”.

For two days we had the pleasure of listening to and being inspired by talks from Justin Pickard, Scott Smith, Eva Lenz, Julian Bleecker, Mara Dionisio & Julian Hanna from MITI, Maja Kuzmanovic & Nik Gaffney from FoAM, Peter von Stackelberg and Trevor Haldenby.

All their approaches and experiences on how we can tackle, influence and navigate through possible, experiential and speculated futures have been recorded and summarised in several online places. Blog posts for example about these two days can be found in this Diary: Day01 and Day02. Notes taken can be looked up in the Future Fabulators section from the libarynth maintained through FoAM and in the learning section of the Physical Narrative Mediawiki run by Time’s Up. Peter von Stackelberg posted his for example his presentations to Slideshare. Images are spread out on all sorts of flickr, twitter, wordpress, Facebook etc. accounts. One collection can be found here. As soon as we manage post processing the audio recordings we will certainly announce it!

A day after Data Ecologies ’14 most of the participants continued to the southern parts of Upper Austria, where we met Barbara Rühling, our facilitator for the following book sprint. Two years ago we successfully chose the process of compacting and extending Data Ecologies into book form via a Book Sprint. A book sprint is described as “an intensive collaborative writing approach which brings together a group of people and a facilitator with the goal of writing a book in three to five days.” We, being Alkan Chipperfield, Tina Auer, Nik Gaffney, Trevor Haldenby, Julian Hanna, Maja Kuzmanovic, Marta Peirano, Peter von Stackelberg, Istvan Szakats, Tim Boykett and Luis Wohlmuther, have had four days.

It turns out rather impossible for us to write up some sort of a retrospect on these days. It was everything between strikingly productive and tendentially paralyzing, for sure highly inspiring and definitely great watching a group of people, with all these different backgrounds and expertises working towards a joint outcome. In certain moments we felt even privileged being amongst all these experts and seeing how every single “booksprinter” – virtuously guided without perceptible pressure by Barbara – found their role and opportunity to contribute. It was as satisfying as realizing the last evening that we indeed managed to have a final book. What Time’s Up, as mentioned, fails to do – writing up an encompassing review on these days – Alkan Chipperfield mastered in a magnificent and eloquent fashion. Initially posted on FoAM’s webpage he kindly re-published it in our Loose Diary as well. Another “review” made by Trevor Haldenby, commented with: “This GIF sums up my experience with the Time’s Up Linz crew in Austria pretty effectively” can be seen here.

The main result, while not as intangible as other results, like broadening a network and gaining alternative perspectives, is of course The Book. “Futurish” will be available in a hopefully very near future. Again, this will be announced as soon as it is the case. All of us are highly keen on holding it in our hands, doing some final changes and spreading it among all interested out there somewhere.

Even if anyone would think, this highly inspirational and intense phase of creativity would be enough for a little while will be taught better. It felt as if only hours (alright, we talk about 2 days here) after returning back from the booksprint, FoAM and Time’s Up scheduled a scenario session to design a story-world both organisations can build upon for experiential, speculated futures we will keep following within Future Fabulators. These two days, identified as a historical moment by Maja Kuzmanovic from FoAM, since it was indeed the very first time that all core members from FoAM as well as Time’s Up have been in the same physical space at the same time, opened up another great base for further collaborative work. For all those being interested in the current stage of “Lucid Dreaming – A story world”: look up the libarynth again!

But wait, there’s more! Mara Dionisio is still with us! Mara is a researcher at M-ITI, together with Julian Hanna she was presenting M-ITI’s current location based narrative experience, where physical objects play an important role in the experience of delivering the story. We will talk her into writing a separate blog-post. This one can be called done for now!

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