It is interesting to use these models to gain understandings about how people relate and interact, describing people’s roles in these interactions.
These descriptions, of course, have variations through time and contexts. People participate to different communities and cultures at the same time, with broader or tighter scopes, their roles within them changing all the time, as well as their level of engagement and the layouts and configuration of their participation.
In the article we explore the basics of how we interpret relations in the Human Ecosystems, and use the assumptions to describe various roles which people commonly represent in the Relational Ecosystem: the Expert, the Hub, the Influencer, the Amplifier and the Bridge.
All of these roles allow us to understand how information and knowledge flow across the Relational Ecosystem of cities.
Some days have passed since the Education is a Commons event, and a summary is needed to be able to have an overview of the scenario which is opening up before our eyes, and about the single most important fact which emerged fro the whole event: Now is the Time to start re-thinking the education system!
First of all: participation. People from 5 continents joined in for an entire week of discussion, representing individuals, organizations, universities, companies, associations, activist groups and, obviously, education hackers from all over the planet.
The education ecosystem: what is it? How does it emerge and manifest itself? How accessible and inclusive is it in its current form? What organizational models, if any, can be adopted to make it more accessible, inclusive and readable/usable?
Koinoo, K-Coins, badges and more: a mutualistic currency for the education ecosystem. Reputation capital. Transformation of the current definition of value to a p2p, ecosystemic, well-being oriented one, based on networked trust, participation, mutuality. Understanding the ecosystem and the networks through the currency. A new role for credentials.
Knowledge Commons, recipes, knowledge and meta-knowledge. Transforming Education into a protocol, like the Internet: an accessible, p2p, network-of-networks. Hypotheses for implementation. A new p2p layer of the Internet protocol stack.
Ubiquitous Education. Ubiquity through time and space (connect experiences, places and situations for knowledge anytime, anywhere). Ubiquity through contexts (each place is a potential space/time for learning/teaching/knowledge, through the commons and ubiquitous tech). Ubiquity through roles (each one can be teacher, student, researcher, entrepreneur… depending on the context). What about Divides (technological, cultural, age, gender…)?
the Open Foundation: the role of the open foundation to host, preserve and promote the Knowledge Commons, the Ecosystem, and the value model, enacted through the currency, and as a shell to enact the Wirearchy through which the ecosystem will work.
A full week of open discussions on the Near Future of Education.
Google hangouts, talks, information and exchange.
Education is a Commons
The first global and interconnected event organized by Near Future Education Lab in collaboration with the P2P Foundation and an incredible network of partners and supporters, globally.
Near Future Education Lab is a group of researchers, teachers, students, associations that want to change the future of Education.
Everything starts from this:
“The future does not exist, it’s a global conversation about what we want, what we fear, what we expect and the possibilities we can imagine.”
1. Crisis and transformation of the education system: the Near Future of Education in Florence. What happens during a crisis?
Transformation, as possibility?
When faced with semi-bankruptcy originating from the financial cuts, and with the certainty of being thrown out from the buildings in which they reside, because of the lack of government funds to pay for the rent, the teachers and students at ISIA Florence started a protest. Flash mobs, social network campaigns, and city interventions were enacted to protest against the probable closure of the school.
Soon enough it was clear that this was only the latest of a never-ending series of states of emergency, and that dedicating all this effort towards resolving one problem, would not change anything for the future, that would still be characterised by a sequence of emergencies, one after the other.
2. A decision was made.
Starting from the Near Future Design course, and quickly spreading to the whole school, we decided to reinvent our reality with the most our powerful tool: Design. We started building the Near Future Design of Education, to push a bit further people’s perception of what is possible, and using this shift to enact a performance, in which the design actually comes to life.
3. The constituent phase
The students are now in a constituent phase, in which they will unite into a foundation, organised using Wirearchy models. (Jon Husband) This new organism will enact the design, by changing the rules of the game. Stepping away from protest mode, and moving into the making mode by changing roles: from subjects begging their rulers to receive hearings and a few coins to survive, to partners, co-creators of the future of the education system.
We imagine a p2p, interconnected ecosystem where Knowledge is a Commons and everyone can share ideas, projects, and perform the near future of Education.
Join this 1 week conversation!
To make sure to be present at the opening live discussion, follow the link that will be provided on this page two hours before the starting time:
We started off with an introduction about our vision about what is and can be Near Future Design, merging multiple practices and disciplines – across ethnography, technological studies, design fiction, transmedia storytelling and more – to
gain better understanding of the current State of the Arts & Technologies and of the emerging Curious Rituals and Strange Now, recurring patterns of human behaviours which are happening, but for which we don’t yet have clear social codes and understandings
unite these understandings to form a series of Future Maps, maps of possible futures which can show not only futures which are technically and technologically possible, but also in synch with the transformation of human beings, as described through the Curious Rituals and Strange Nows
use the Future Maps to describe concepts for possible products, services, processes, interactions and practices which are likely to emerge in the near future
design these products/services/processes/practices through Design Fiction, creating pre-totypes, early prototypes which not only include the prototypal implementation of these objects and services, but also of their diegetic character and characteristics, their being suggestive and scenographic, their ability to suggest the possible emergence of the practices and processes connected to their existence – be them positive, problematic, or in-between, across social, political and anthropological scenarios – and, as a consequence, to give shape new languages, codes and imaginaries which are able to transform our possibility to imagine and create new futures, opportunities and possibilities
use the Design Fictions in a World Building process, using Transmedia Storytelling, to design the world in which these pre-totypes might come into existence, trying to give answers to questions like “what would be the world like, if this product/service/process/practice would actually exist?” and “what would be in this world?”, “how would human interactions, relations, knowledge and understanding of the world be transformed?”
use the Transmedia Storytelling to create the product/service/process/practice’s manifestations in this possible future world, in cities, urban environments, online, offline, in advertising, human interactions and across a variety of different, coordinated media, to create an immersive experience, in which the design becomes a simulacrum, a state of suspended disbelief in which it is impossible (or, at least, difficult) to understand wether the object is fake or real, thus enabling people to actually being inclined to adopt the new languages, codes and imaginaries emerging from its (possible) existence, and use them to construct and express their own vision on the world, including this new possibility
observe these resulting forms of human expression to gain better understandings of the reactions, to go beyond the idea of technically/technologically possible futures, and to understand the expression of desirable, preferable futures.
the Near Future Design process
At the end of the workshop we joined Bruce Sterling in a discussion about the importance of performing such processes, and about the radical transformation and addition to the role of Design which they represent: you can find a description of the talk here, on Wired (in Italian).
During the talk, we selected a series of quotes from a series of writers, philosophers and movie directors, to highlight the social, political and philosophical implications of the creation of Near Future Designs, and on the possibility to create and use new codes, languages and imaginaries to build our world and futures, through expression, communication and performance.
Jorge Luis Borges
“The people who write novels have to take the infinite reality and make it finite, give it an order. A novel has a beginning and an end: for this it is a finite world. The tale, instead, is the only infinite literary genre. A good tale is a story which does not have a beginning and end. To describe the infinite, you sketch a trace of it, which is also infinite. A tale is a trace of infinite.” – Jorge Luis Borges
We used Borges’ quote to describe the necessity to create open narratives, the importance of the need to avoid describing complete, prepared, pre-determined futures, to enable people’s possibility to create their own futures. The question “what comes next?” can be an opportunity for performance, for the creation of our own future, the way we desire and prefer it. Too often it is an act of passive consumption: someone telling you “this is the future”, and you adopting it.
The library of Babel
The Library of Babel is an hallucinatory universe composed by a spatially infinite library made from hexagonal halls, which chaotically collects all of the possible books of 410 pages, in which are all the possible permutations and combinations of letters and numbers.
In the library, all the possible books of 410 pages are present. Therefore it is present the Book of Truth, all of its variants including its opposite, and human beings do not have any way to distinguish one from the other:
« Starting from this incontrovertible premises, he decided that the Library is total, and that its shelves record all the possible combinations of the 25 alphabetical signs, all that we can express, in all languages. Everything: the detailed story of the future, the autobiographies of the archangels, the truthful catalogue of the Library, thousands and thousands of false catalogues, the demonstration of the falsity of all these catalogues, the demonstration of the falsity of the true catalogue [...] the translation of each book in all languages, the interpolation of each book in all of the other ones. »
– Jorge Luis Borges
This piece from the Library of Babel was used to allude to the need for our active participation to the description of the future, among the infinite possible ones. While the futures are infinite, many do not make any sense, multiple are dangerous for us, or in opposition to our desires, expectations and ambitions, and so on. From all of them we can potentially learn something, develop new visions, imaginations, ideas, desires, languages and codes. We cal use all of these to create new realities, new codes, and to enact them in performance, with our daily lives.
Once, a friend of a friend showed Picasso a Picasso. “No, it is fake”, answered the painter. The same friend got hold of another presumed Picasso, and Picasso said that also this was a fake. The friend took another one, but this was fake as well, said Picasso. “But, Pablo”, said the friend, “I have seen you paint this with my own eyes.” “I can paint a fake Picasso just like anybody else”, replied Picasso.
– Orson Welles
This quote by Orson Welles points out the problematic aspect of deciding “what is real”. Reality is always an interpretation, originating from cultural, political, social and subjective elements. Reality is a code and a space, and multiple of them exist at the same time, built through language and practice (performance). By questioning reality we can enter a state of openness to possibility, in which we can perform reality, creating new ones, constructively (Picasso painting the fake Picasso).
Go and organize a fake hold up. Be sure to check that your weapons are harmless, and take the most trustworthy hostage, so that no life is in danger (otherwise you risk committing an offence). Demand ransom, and arrange it so that the operation creates the greatest commotion possible. In brief, stay close to the “truth”, so as to test the reaction of the apparatus to a perfect simulation. But you won’t succeed: the web of artificial signs will be inextricably mixed up with real elements (a police officer will really shoot on sight; a bank customer will faint and die of a heart attack; they will really turn the phoney ransom over to you). In brief, you will unwittingly find yourself immediately in the real, one of whose functions is precisely to devour every attempt at simulation, to reduce everything to some reality: that’s exactly how the established order is, well before institutions and justice come into play.
– Jean Baudrillard
This quote from Baudrillard describes the relation of “fake” and simulation with reality. “Fake” is not “not real”, it is another real, which interweaves itself with the consensual reality, creating new spaces of perception, cognition and imagination. It defines new possibles, new possible realities, which will be interpreted by human beings and by societies, who will react and perform accordingly. Fake is real.
Everything is becoming science fiction. From the margins of an almost invisible literature has sprung the intact reality of the 20th century.
– J.G. Ballard
This quote from J.G. Ballard explains the role of Science Fiction within our societies. Science Fiction as a probe, as an exploratory performance into possibility, into possible worlds, to open them up for discussion, expression, critique and enactment. A sensor for “the possible”. We believe that the same can be said for Art.
Philip K. Dick
If you think this universe is bad, you should see the other ones.
– Philip K. Dick
This quote from Dick describes the possibility to take into account a plurality of different futures, and the critical aspects of this consideration, which opens up not only the opportunity of understanding, describing and designing (for) them, but also highlights the importance of embracing active modalities to describe our desired, preferred futures, and to enact them through the performance of our daily lives.
It is not a random fact that futurology is developing in an historical moment such as the present one, in which we are witnessing a radical mutation of our planet.
Wether we call it “post-industrial society”, “information society”, “technotronic age”, “superindustrial society” or “third wave”, the progressive emergence of a new reality is clear: the situation of the planet is changing, in the ways in which we work, in our lifestyles, in the social and political conflicts, in economy and love, in the institutions and in the codes of behaviour.
Understanding this mutation is essential to direct it, to deal with the emergencies and with the effective risks of catastrophe (environmental, social, economic) which will not address themselves. The work on the understanding and forecasting of the future seems essential to adequately confront with all of these issues. At the condition which this work does not generate a caste of super-technicians who assume for themselves the right to decide – alone or together with the bureaucracies which govern us – everyone’s destiny.
On the direction of this destiny the last word pertains to the people: there must be no doubt about this.
Art is Open Source and ISIA Design Florence will be in Milan at Wired’s NextFest on May 17 for an immersive 8-hours workshop on Near Future Design, and for a performative conversation with Bruce Sterling on the opportunity of materialising possible futures right now, using Design Fiction.
Near Future Designis a series of practices and methodologies through which we can explore possible futures in participatory ways, highlighting current transformations in human societies, in technologies and in their relations and mutual influences. Through this, we can create Future Maps which describe these possible futures, and use Design Fiction to implement pre-totypes, early prototypes built through actual objects and services, but also through the use of transmedia narratives: the manifestations of these objects and services of our possible future, across different, coordinated media, to make them credible and likely.
As we have highlightedmultipletimes, in the era of knowledge, information and communication, Near Future Design helps in the construction of the languages, visions and of the imaginaries which will enable us to actually create our futures, hence giving rise to our motto: “The Future does not exist! It’s a Performance!” A performance for all of us, to create our futures with every imaginative action in our daily lives, and for organisations, companies, governments and more, who wish to stimulate people into critically and collaboratively thinking about their preferable, desirable futures, and to actively participate in their construction.
We will choose a scenario, create a Future Map, and design our “New Normal”, the future scenario in which our future product/service/action/behaviour will be perceived as being normal, common. We will do it through Transmedia Storytelling: we will enact a coordinated, systematized strategy online, in the streets, on social networks, in shops and, in general, ubiquitously, across digital and physical media, which will make our Design Fiction come alive.