SciFly // 162 // Remote Speculations Week 71/72

Speculative Events, News & Resources | Sent 7/27


Hey Scifly Readers!

As often happens, writing to you in the middle of the night, after getting a late start on SciFly post having a great day hanging out with my Mom. :D

So... going to keep this brief and give a couple of quick exciting personal updates, and highlight a cool project I got to learn lots about this week after getting to hang out with the super cool founders.

Exciting Personal Updates! 😁

Passed my Exam & Became a Certified Foresight Practitioner!

First of all, I'm super excited to announce I (finally) got my CFP Certification! A Certified Foresight Practitioner is trained in the foundational ideas and tools of the Natural Foresight framework, embodies the futurist mindset and understands the value of futures intelligence in his/her respective field. A CFP is able to conduct trend-spotting, horizon scanning and pattern-making that informs future scenarios and impacts business results.

I've been interested in getting this certification ever since joining The Futures School Accelerator workshop what seems like forever ago, but was really last summer. While the class was a whirl-wind, it really inspired me to learn more about foresight practices, especially in the realm of context-building and signal scanning/sorting/identification. The last year has been super hectic, so I never had the chance to follow-up on it, but recently have found the time to both start the TFS Activator program and to sit and study for my CFP exam which actually went really well together. I finally feel much more confident in transforming my mostly informal and curiosity-driven signal scanning collection into more informed patterns and artifacts for meaning-making, and have so many ideas for pushing the work further and connecting it with our own work with Futures x Design.

Super excited to find more time to think more deeply about some of the ideas that came out all the focus!

Ishanya Panel Recording Now Live

Back in May, I had an amazing opportunity to participate in Ishanya 2021, the annual Design Fest organized by the Department of Design (DoD), IIT Guwahati in India. I moderated an amazing panel, Decolonizing the Future, Implementing more Futures approaches within Design Thinking and Organizations which included amazing speakers from around the world: Pupul Bisht, a futurist and designer with a deep passion for exploring cultural plurality in contemporary design practices, Jorge Camacho, a strategic designer, foresight strategist, researcher, and lecturer, and Mansi Parikh, the Founder of Future Tense, a Strategic Foresight & Innovation Consultancy & an Next Gen Foresight Practitioner Fellow. 

I'm super excited to announce that the panel video is now live on Youtube, and you can check it out below! :D
Decolonizing the Future, Implementing more Futures approaches within Design Thinking and Organizations

The Future of Classical Music

I was also lucky enough this week to get to hang out with an amazing group of people from Future in the Barns, one of our partners at The Design Futures Initiative, and to chat about the future of music, and super provocative questions like 'what makes classical music classical'? If you haven't heard about their work, I highly recommend you check them out! 

Music in the Barns

Over the past fourteen years, Music in the Barns has pioneered innovative approaches to contemporary classical music events almost everywhere except conventional concert halls. We are quite as committed to being at the forefront of what music will become as we are to how it will be shared and taught.

Inspired by free-wheeling artist collectives like Fluxus that transformed New York’s gallery scene in the 1960s, staging participatory events very much at odds with prevailing ideas about what art should be, where it should be shown, and who should see it, we have endeavored to be a new kind of organization—at once nimble, adventurous and protean. And, as our past projects illustrate, always very much involved in every aspect of developing, producing, funding and publicizing musical performance.

The Design Futures Initiative has been partnering with Music in the Barns and the Canada Council for the Arts to explore how we might make music pedagogy more accessible with the development and early testing of a prototype digital musical instrument designed for creating and learning music at home and in the digital space.

Check It Out

More Cute Pics of Sasha

And just because he is adorable, here are some more pictures of our awesome new kitten Sasha during his first trip to the park. :D!!! 

As always, I hope you are all doing well, wherever you are!

Don't forget you can find me on the Speculative Futures Slack (which I pseudo-moderate) if you want to chat! @DocMartens

Stay safe in your speculations, and catch you next week!


"The future is here, now let's distribute it." 

Doc Martens

SciFly is a design studio dedicated to leveraging speculative design and science fiction to imagine and prototype alternative futures enabled by today's emerging technology.

Online Events 🗓

Events are organized chronologically by week with events from Speculative Futures chapters listed separately at the end.

WEEK 1 - Tuesday, July 27th - Monday, August 2nd


Tuesday, July 27

Tales of Immensity // 12pm - 12:30pm EDT // Free
Tales of Immensity is an experimental live performance initiated by Friedman Benda gallery and Manifest Institute. Combining voices from the Manifest Journal, design objects by prominent designer Misha Kahn, digital environments by groundbreaking artist Shawn Maximo, and dance by acclaimed choreographer Renana Raz, the performance creates a series of visual encounters in which notions of American immensity are explored through text, sound, and movement. Composed as a three-act performance, each focusing on a facet of the experience of American space (encounter, crossing, immersion), Tales of Immensity uses multidisciplinary work and live editing techniques to question the boundaries between physical and virtual space, vast landscapes and human bodies, and past and future conceptions of American immensity.
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A talk with Linda Margarita Greenberg: People of Papers and Maps // 8:30pm - 9:30pm EDT // Free
Sometimes the stories of undocumented people go unnoticed, invisible, and unspoken. Sometimes these stories are told through state documents, economic reports, and news cycles that describe how many undocumented immigrants are arriving, during what time periods, or with what economic impact. But an over-reliance on data-driven narratives as a primary mode of framing undocumented immigration has risks: the language of numbers and mass can also become the language of dehumanization. This literature—these pages of prose and imaginary maps and poetic reinventions—become a different kind of papeles that emphasize the expansive humanity and intimate particularity of undocumented experiences.
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The Future of Institutions // 6pm - 7:30pm EDT // $0 - $20
The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) has reimagined the role of an arts institution by focusing on “building a home for artists that will strengthen their capacity to have measurable impact in their communities. YBCA’s Board Chair Sara Fesnske Bahat, CEO Deborah Cullinan, and Chief of Program Meklit Hadero will discuss YBCA’s evolution and address questions including: How is progress made during a year of such tremendous change? What are the implications of organizing the institution this way? The growing pains and triumphs? What are the ripple effects in the local and larger communities? What does the future look like? Can lessons translate to other institutions and how?
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Robopsychology – Perceptual Control Theory and Braitenberg’s Vehicles // 1pm - 2:30pm EDT // £0 – £20
The Insights Series is an eclectic and learned collection of monthly events on the 4th Tuesday of each month hosted by Cybernetics Society. This talk is about experimental robot-psychology, applying the Test for the Controlled Variable to a class of robot known as Braitenberg’s Vehicles. Valentino Braitenberg was a cybernetician, a neuroanatomist, and a musician. His book, ‘Vehicles: Experiments in Synthetic Psychology’ inspired many to explore its strange intersection of cybernetics and artistry. The simplest among these robots can be understood as operating by Stimulus-Response; their outputs simply a function of the inputs. But put them in an environment and we see the emergence of behaviour—the control of perception. Can we speak about these curious creatures as having a purpose, and if so what is it?
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InReal-Time 06 : SpatialBirth // 2pm - 3:30pm EDT // Free
In Real-Time is a monthly event series in VR, gathering the movers and shakers, creators and pioneers around virtual architecture and immersive experiences through exhibitions, talks, demos and workshops. The aim is to share and showcase art and design in virtual reality with the accessibility of the web, using the platform Mozilla hubs. This is the sixth in the series of many events to come within an immersive virtual environment designed by
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Wednesday, July 28

Redesigning Higher Education Seminar // 11am - 1pm EDT // Free
Higher Education has always played a critical role in shaping, informing and inspiring society, but in today's complex and fast changing world, that role may be more important than ever. However, many believe that of our institutions are operating under an outdated model that does not align with the realities and needs of modern society, putting our institutions under increasing pressure to change and evolve. But are our institutions prepared for change? Do they have the humility, creativity, agility and buy-in necessary to make meaningful change happen?
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Creative AI: Introduction to Blockchain for Artists and Creators // 6pm - 8pm EDT // $10
Blockchains have the potential to radically alter how artists work, get paid, protect their intellectual property, govern their organizations, and more. Blockchains, cryptocurrencies, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are already hard to avoid and massively changing the creative industries and art market. They are often accompanied by strong opinions and enormous dollar values. But what exactly are they and were are they going as verification tools for authenticity, a digital approach to art collection or a way of storing value? Find out in this workshop.
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Y-Exchange: Talking About Art and Science // 9pm - 10:30pm EDT // Free
Welcome to Y-Exchange - a featured artists presentation on the intersection of performing arts, technology and science co-presented by Kinetech Arts, ODC Theater, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. Partake in this monthly series of presentations about performing arts, technology and science and how they intersect and inform each other!
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The Magic Powers of Geometry, Symmetry, & Topology // 10:30pm EDT // Donation
Mathematicians, artists, engineers, and designers use three broad concepts to develop their creations: geometry, symmetry, and topology. We will clarify and explore these three subjects to see how they are applied in the understanding of mathematical knots and in the analysis and design of abstract geometric sculptures — math and art embracing one another! Our speaker, Carlo Séquin, is Professor of Computer Science at UC Berkeley. Known for his accomplishments in computer design and architecture, Dr. Séquin is also expert in computer graphics and abstract geometric art.
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How the Japanese Video Game Industry Found, Lost, and Rediscovered Its Way // 7pm EDT // Free
Super Mario, Pac-Man, Sonic, Final Fantasy, Street Fighter, and Metroid. If you’ve ever played a video game, chances are you’ve probably heard of some of these titles. Perhaps these titles might even evoke fond, nostalgic memories of childhood to some players who grew up with them. While many of these Japanese games are widely recognized, loved and still played by many fans worldwide today, players might not realize just how integral these games were in popularizing the videogame culture in the west, and influencing both the growth and course of the global videogames industry. For our first episode focusing on the topic of videogames, we will be joined by Mr. Chris Kohler and Dr. Mia Consalvo, who will be taking us on a historical journey with their presentations; delving deep into the history of the Japanese videogames industry, specifically focusing on events which kickstarted this global phenomenon, along with some of the issues which caused it to lose its way and fall behind its western counterpart in the 2000s.
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Thursday, July 29

Raspberry Dream Land Soft Launch // 7/30, 12:30pm - 7/31, 2am EDT // Free?
Raspberry Dream Labs is bringing to the world its brainchild –– the social WebXR events platform for progressive arts & entertainment – Raspberry Dream Land! A mecca of electronic music and alternative nights, creative hub and multisensory playroom opens its doors with an invite-only exclusive soft launch event in all major regions worldwide. RD Land is a brave new world where nature makes its peace with robotic technologies and humans are no longer trapped in their body forms. Our platform celebrates the solarpunk future coming into existence by uniting art, technology, sustainability and cyber-sexuality. Sense Magick is an immersive multi-sensory experience, where you open your hearts and gain access to your subtle erotic bodies, learn to direct your sexual energy, and shoot it out into the collective for healing
Learn More (request tickets here)

Systemic Desirable Future Scenarios // 11am - 1:30pm EDT // 19 €
On each day of the Waterkant Summer Festival KNOWEAUX Applied Futures offered a Future Modeling workshop to explore the desirable Futures of the day's topic: the Futures of Human Technology, Work, Aging, Education, Cities and our Planet. During this workshop we will start to build a Systemic Scenario Map by connecting insights from all topics to one so called Futures Matrix. We have initiated the concept of the Futures Matrix to spark open and interactive dialogues and to combine different perspectives into a holistic big picture of desirable Futures. The Futures Matrix is based on the Future Modeling Framework and Future DNA Building blocks from all previous sessions.
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Technology in Context Summer Series | Session 8: New Technologies and the Future of our Planet // 1pm EDT // Free
Climate Change, Water Scarcity, Soil Erosion - the list of ecological problems facing us currently and in the future is very long. Can technology provide solutions, or does our reliance on technology actually make matters worse?
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Introduction to Arduino and Biorobotics for Professionals // 2am - 5am EDT // $120
Organised by Whyte Labs in conjunction with JustCo Campus Week, this workshop introduces a one-of-a-kind robotics learning experience. We hope to give young minds the tools and confidence to bring their wildest of ideas to life, while also discovering the beauty of science and engineering. Facilitated by two leading robotics researchers and entrepreneurs, take the first step towards building your own robots with Arduino, the World’s most versatile prototyping platform. Challenge yourself by combining your favourite sensors and other components to prototype an Arduino-based home-automation system, all through simple block-based programming!
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Friday, July 30

SloMoCo Practice Works: Living Code and Sharing Abundance // 1:30pm - 3pm EDT // Free
Advances in human-computer interaction (HCI) are hard earned whether achieved by research institutions, corporations, or through independent practice. They require significant investments of time, funding, space, specialized equipment, expertise, collaboration, management, and testing. As such, researchers must continually navigate within an environment of doing-more-with-less. We approach these topics from an abundance mindset by championing what is working and what is possible. Arts and science teams share how they navigate group dynamics within interdisciplinary teams. Representatives detail how research centers and funders thoughtfully support creatives. Those embracing distributed power structures offer guidance for institutions looking to adapt similar changes. Individuals are encouraged to bring and share resource lists, links, and collective opportunities. This is a gathering in the spirit of mutual aid, fostering emergent strategies.
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Saturday, July 31

Creative Conversations/digital: Urban Subjects // 1pm - 2pm EDT // Free
Held in conjunction with the exhibition Public Life: Recording the Blur, this Creative Conversations/digital program features cultural research collective, Urban Subjects (Sabine Bitter, Jeff Derksen, and Helmut Weber) in conversation with FotoFest Associate Curator, Max Fields. The guests will discuss their writing, art practice, and curatorial work that examines global urban issues, the texture of cities, and civic imaginations. For this program, FotoFest has asked the collective to meditate on the relationships between publicness, time, and urbanism and the ways in which these concepts interact with and influence contemporary image production and media circulation.
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Sunday, August 1

Speculative Architectures with Angelica Maria Barraza, MFA // Workshop, Various Times // $40
In this interdisciplinary workshop we will think through how our environments, established forms, cultural norms, etc. influence our experience--and production--of creative works. Using the blueprints of innovative, race-critical artists and poets such as Renee Gladman, Bhanu Kapil, Olalekan Jeyifous and others, we will discuss the possibilities and limitations of form to both reflect the world around us and re-build it. We will then apply a speculative lens to our own creative process; we will treat the creative process as a world-building process, and tease out new ways of inhabiting forms that are feminist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, [insert your vision of utopia here]. This workshop runs from August 1, 2021 - August 31, 2021. Workshops consist of one video per week for each week in the month. Videos are 45-60 minutes long.
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Monday, August 2

Cyborg Bodies // Minecraft Creations // 2pm - 5pm EDT // Donation
Part feminist theory, part artist talk, and part technical workshop—this session explores how we can use Minecraft to transform our social and material realities to create new bodily possibilities. This workshop will specifically explore how to create a resource pack in Minecraft that renames and retextures a block to create new possibilities within the game as an artistic medium. We will explore how we can use this technique to (literally) re-skin blocks with textures from our own bodies, and name or rename these body parts as a form of social and linguistic intervention and to signal our lived realities.
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WEEK 2 - Tuesday, August 3rd - Monday, August 9th


Tuesday, August 3

Design = Change: Killamari on Street Art // 6pm - 7pm EDT // $0 - $10
Atlanta’s most creative people (and some from beyond the 404) will invite you (virtually) into their home, studio, or maker space. They’ll tell you about their work, their career trajectory, and what they’re thinking about now as our world takes a new form. Born in the year of the rat, with a strong desire for pepperoni, Killamari is the original Pizza Rat. He is also an illustrator, painter, lotus eater, and street artist based in the city of Atlanta, Georgia. He never got the memo saying you shouldn’t draw on walls, so you can catch him painting all over the city with his fellow vagrants. When he’s not spending time with his beautiful wife and daughters, he’s creating for galleries, ad agencies, television, games, and more. Growing up on comics, Saturday morning cartoons, and Graffiti in the 80’s and 90’s, his illustrations are strongly influenced by characters, bold patterns and loud colors.
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Discussion: Sustainable Energy and Public Art // 7pm - 8pm EDT // Free
The Land Art Generator Initiative (LAGI) works with communities around the world to design installations that actively support climate solutions by integrating sustainable infrastructure as the medium for creative and cultural expression. This event is a discussion about sustainable energy and public art with Robert Ferry & Elizabeth Monoian of Land Art Generator and artist Allan Giddy. Moderated by Alex Nathanson, and part of a series ofb events celebrating the release of Alex Nathanson's book A History of Solar Power Art and Design.
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Wednesday, August 4

A Climate of Change: creative counter mapping methods for sensing place // 2am - 5am EDT // Free
As a site for public practice and political praxis, cultural mapping is both a method of inquiry and a methodological tool in social art making, urban planning, and community development that makes visible the ways local stories, practices, relationships, physical memories, and rituals constitute places as meaningful locations. Contemporary artists and community activists use creative cartographies as tools for engagement, understanding relationships, and to draw attention to counter-narratives on the politics of land, place and history. This event is presented by an interdisciplinary team of artists and researchers at RMIT University and hosted by CAST (contemporary art and social transformation) research group, Critical Urban Governance (CUG) research group, and the Mapping Future Imaginaries (MFI) research network, School of Education. 
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Playing With Sound: Experimental Music With Jamie Stewart // 8/4, 7:30pm - 8/25, 9pm EDT // $0 - $105
Experimental music is more of a verb than it is a noun; to create it, one must experiment. Its definition is an energetic and decisive act as much as it is a broad category of music, and in its truest form, it should fly beyond its bounds rather than exist within them. Join singer, engineer, and composer Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu for an exploration of these very definitions and bounds and the creative processes that shape and transcend them. Designed for music makers and appreciators alike, this class will look at some of the genre’s most fascinating pioneers, discuss what experimental music even is (or, really, what it might be), how it interacts with other musics, and the social, emotional, political, and intellectual factors that drive it. 
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The Future of the Lab // 7:30pm - 8:15pm EDT // Free
Scientific and technological advancements continue to drive scientific organisations towards a digital transformation. Automation of processes and workflows continue to improve downtime and efficiency in the lab - but is this the future? We have invited experts from the Life Sciences industry to come and share their experience and insight on what the lab of the future will look like.
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Thursday, August 5

Femke Herregraven | Artist Talk // 1pm EDT // Free
In Corrupted Air (IBRD CAR 111-112) (2018), Femke Herregraven traces the historical and contemporary geographic relations between capital flows and pandemics. This work, and the research underpinning it, is the starting point for this talk on catastrophe bonds and the financialization of human lives as liability and risk. The talk will elaborate on broader questions around financial prediction, modelling and the 'risk imaginary' that is built into processes that are now governing our future fortunes.
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Technology in Context Summer Series | Session 9: New Technologies and the Future of Learning // 1pm EDT // Free
Education as we know it is changing rapidly. The pandemic was a big accelerator of technology empowered learning trends, but there are many more yet to come. Get current on the various ways in which learning may occur tomorrow and the role Educational Institutions can and should play.
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Friday, August 6

3D Prosthesis Printing // 10am - 11:30am EDT // Free
Prosthesis manufacturing is an iterative, time consuming and labour-intensive task. Additive Manufacturing (also known as 3D printing) has the potential for the successful fabrication of sockets and other prosthetic parts. It could offer a rapid, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly method of manufacturing a personalised prosthesis. Researchers at the University of Derby, the University of Southampton, and The University of Sheffield are working on a potential research project to develop a method that would allow the 3D printing of a prosthesis from digital data.
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Saturday, August 7

Evolving towards a Living Future (MENA) - Regenerative Design // 3am - 7am EDT // $20
This event will look into the various programs and challenges offered by the International Living Future Institute, and focus on the importance of doing "more good" and not just "less bad". Looking into the possibilities of regenerative design through a holistic approach and gearing you up to start creating ripple effects for sustainability and human and planetary wellbeing within the MENA region and beyond.
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Sunday, August 8

Nothing to Report 👾

Monday, August 9

Transforming the City through Creative Connectivity // 2pm - 3pm EDT // Free
This event showcases examples of creative innovation across the city and examines the potential for City Wide Transformation and enhanced Connectivity. The panel will be chaired by Professor Paul Moore Director of Future Screens NI which is a £13mn Creative Cluster Programme investing the Creative Industries. The panel will feature the following innovative content: Immersive Peace Wall installation “Tsuru” by Deepa Mann-Kler, AR 360 by Michael McGlade of Yellow Design, The Future of Virtual Production by Dr Declan Keeney of Ulster University.
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Upcoming Speculative Futures Meetups 

Discursive Futures – Räume für demokratischen Dialog gestalten (.Discursive futures - designing spaces for democratic dialogue) // Speculative Futures Stuttgart // Tuesday, July 27, 1:30pm - 3:30pm EDT // €3.00 [In German]
Wie wollen wir in Zukunft miteinander reden? Wie können wir Räume für den demokratischen Dialog gestalten? Andrea, Tebeya und Lisa sind Absolventinnen der HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd und mittlerweile in den Bereichen UX-Design, Wissenschaftskommunikation und Innovation tätig.
In ihrem Vortrag rollen sie die Ergebnisse ihrer Masterthesis, die in Kooperation mit der School of Critical Design in London entstand, neu auf. Im Laufe der Masterthesis beschäftigten sie sich nicht nur intensiv mit Demokratie, Kommunikation und Raum, sondern reflektierten auch ihr eigenes Verständnis von Design im gesellschaftlichen Kontext. Während der gestalterischen Auseinandersetzung mit digitalen Räumen als Orte des politischen Austausches wird klar: Gestalter:innen brauchen ein Bewusstsein für Demokratie und Gesellschaft. Denn die Gestaltung von digitalen Räumen beeinflusst nicht nur unser Verhalten, sondern auch die Art und Weise, wie wir miteinander reden.
Der diskursive Designansatz, den sie in ihrer Arbeit verfolgten, ermöglicht einen Blick auf die Thematik aus einer neuen (gestalterischen) Perspektive. Anhand von drei diskursiven Artefakten sowie vielen anschaulichen Beispielen werden Zukünfte digitaler Räume diskutierbar und eine neue Perspektive auf den Status Quo möglich.
How do we want to talk to each other in the future? How can we design spaces for democratic dialogue?
Andrea, Tebeya and Lisa are graduates of the HfG Schwäbisch Gmünd and now work in the fields of UX design, science communication and innovation.
In their lecture, they will review the results of their master’s thesis, which was developed in cooperation with the School of Critical Design in London. During the master's thesis, they not only dealt intensively with democracy, communication and space, but also reflected on their own understanding of design in a social context. During the creative examination of digital spaces as places of political exchange, it becomes clear that designers: inside need an awareness of democracy and society. Because the design of digital spaces not only influences our behavior, but also the way we talk to one another.
The discursive design approach that they pursued in their work enables a view of the topic from a new (creative) perspective. With the help of three discursive artefacts and many illustrative examples, the future of digital spaces can be discussed and a new perspective on the status quo is possible.

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Pizza, Pints, and Prototypes // Speculative Futures Louisville // Thursday, August 5, 5:30pm - 7:30pm EDT // Free
We are ecstatic to announce our first ever live, in-person Design Futures Louisville meetup! We are joining forces with IxDA Louisville for a fun night of socializing and speculating. Please join us on August 5th at Great Flood Taproom on Bardstown Road for some… Pizza: Will be generously provided by the folks at TEKsystems. Pints: Great Flood will have their great selection of brews for sale. Prototypes: We'll have some fun prompts and frameworks for imagining futures scenarios and creating provocative prototypes from the future. People: Real. Live. People. Like you!
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Speculative News & Resources 📰

News, resources, and musings about emerging technology, speculative practice, and futures design and related topics.

Google wants to (try to) make Google Glass cool again (& more patent news) // Protocol
This week was so full of fun patent applications that I didn't know where to start. We've got a throwback to 2013, a virtual assistant that knows when I've stopped talking, and headphones that can determine a user's hearing abilities. But as always, remember that the big tech companies file all kinds of crazy patents for things, and though most never amount to anything, some end up defining the future...
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Maree Conway: Episodic Foresight // Journal of Futures Studies [Podcast]
Episodic foresight is identified as the primary neural mechanism that enables humans to construct images of the futures, providing explanatory power to further define and understand the processes that are invoked in futures studies and foresight activities. These enlightening words are from Maree Conway who joins us to chat about How humans can imagine and construct images of the future, and what happens in our brain. Maree has extensive expertise on foresight in practice, and she is founder of Foresight Futures, a consultancy studio on strategic foresight.
Listen Now

‘Next-Generation’ Total Artificial Heart Successfully Transplanted into First US Patient // SingularityHub
Late last year, a French company called Carmat received approval in Europe for its total artificial heart. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a heart made of synthetic and biological materials intended for implantation into people who need heart transplants. Now, just half a year later, the first US patient has received one of the hearts. The transplant took place last week in a 39-year-old man at Duke University Hospital in North Carolina. The man didn’t go to the hospital expecting to have a heart transplant, but it ended up saving his life...
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The traffic light gets a dazzling, 21st century makeover // FastCompany
The stop light was a design inevitability. As cars grew in popularity around the turn of the 20th century, several inventors developed a glowing box filled with round, incandescent lights to tell people when to stop and go. Which is why, since the traffic signal was first installed in Cleveland in 1914, the design has gone largely unchanged. Yet, maybe it’s worth asking: Has that design gone unchanged because these traffic signals are a timeless design? Or have we just not thought of anything better yet?
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Scientists Warn of “Bleak Cyborg Future” From Brain-Computer Interfaces // SciTech Daily
Surpassing the biological limitations of the brain and using one’s mind to interact with and control external electronic devices may sound like the distant cyborg future, but it could come sooner than we think. Researchers from Imperial College London conducted a review of modern commercial brain-computer interface (BCI) devices, and they discuss the primary technological limitations and humanitarian concerns of these devices in APL Bioengineering, from AIP Publishing...
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The Computer Scientist Training AI to Think With Analogies // Quanta
The Pulitzer Prize-winning book Gödel, Escher, Bach inspired legions of computer scientists in 1979, but few were as inspired as Melanie Mitchell. After reading the 777-page tome, Mitchell, a high school math teacher in New York, decided she “needed to be” in artificial intelligence. She soon tracked down the book’s author, AI researcher Douglas Hofstadter, and talked him into giving her an internship. She had only taken a handful of computer science courses at the time, but he seemed impressed with her chutzpah and unconcerned about her academic credentials...
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What if our home electronics were made from fruit, not plastic? // FastCompany
If you glance around your home, you’ll see plastic everywhere, from your air-conditioner to your phone charger to your lamp. When you’re done with these products, they’ll likely end up in a landfill where they’ll sit for hundreds of years, breaking into minuscule particles that make their way into rain and food. A trio of designers in Milan wants to make our home products out of more sustainable materials. They’ve just launched an $85 lamp called the Ohmie that’s made from discarded orange peels and can be thrown into the compost bin at the end of its life, where it will decompose along with other food waste. It’s a beautiful product and one that points to a future where designers stop relying so heavily on plastic...
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Air Force Research Lab Says Force Fields Are 'On the Horizon' // Futurism
The Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) seems to be working on bringing a staple of science fiction weaponry — the force field — into reality. The announcement arrived as part of a new AFRL report on the future of directed energy weapons — you know, lasers and stuff — and how they might be used by the military in the coming decades. The report concedes that developing a missile defense force field will take substantial technological development, but it also opines that directed energy weaponry has reached a “tipping point” of practicality, with a press release sent to The Drive claiming that “the concept of a [directed energy] weapon creating a localized force field may be just on the horizon.”
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Israeli Company’s ‘Spiderman’ Technology Spins New Artificial Skin for Patients // The Algemeiner
Treating burns, wounds, and scars presents both psychological and physical hindrances. This treatment also becomes complex, costly, and can deprive a patient of the use of that limb or area. Yet one biotech company, Nanomedic Technologies, has engineered an artificial skin that is 3D-printed, is affixed directly onto a patient’s skin, and after 24-48 hours allows patients to use that area as they normally would.
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Sponge's Clever Structure Could Improve Our Buildings // Futurity
The remarkable structural properties of the Venus’ flower basket sponge (E. aspergillum) might seem fathoms removed from human-engineered structures. However, insights into how the organism’s latticework of holes and ridges influences the hydrodynamics of seawater in its vicinity could lead to advanced designs for buildings, bridges, marine vehicles, and aircraft...
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Oculus’ Passthrough API will enable experiences that mix VR and the real world // Verge
Facebook announced a new API that will let developers incorporate video from the Quest 2’s sensors into their games and applications, creating a mixed reality experience. With the Passthrough API, developers will not only be able to mix the black-and-white images from the headset’s sensors into their experiences, but they’ll also be able to customize how it ends up looking to the player, apply effects, and even have the real world show up on specific surfaces...
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FTC Formally Adopts Right to Repair Platform // VICE
The Federal Trade Commission unanimously voted Wednesday to pursue policies that will make it easier for people to repair their own things. In a vote of 5-0 during a Commission Meeting, the FTC agreed to adopt a policy paper outlining how it planned to enforce rules that keep manufacturers from restricting aftermarket repair. It plans to enforce existing warranty law, coordinate with state and local lawmakers to ensure open markets, and investigate the current repair monopolies for violations of antitrust law...
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DeepMind says it will release the structure of every protein known to science // MIT Tech Review
Back in December 2020, DeepMind took the world of biology by surprise when it solved a 50-year grand challenge with AlphaFold, an AI tool that predicts the structure of proteins. Last week the London-based company published full details of that tool and released its source code. Now the firm has announced that it has used its AI to predict the shapes of nearly every protein in the human body, as well as the shapes of hundreds of thousands of other proteins found in 20 of the most widely studied organisms, including yeast, fruit flies, and mice. The breakthrough could allow biologists from around the world to understand diseases better and develop new drugs...
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Rapper Says He's Buying an Entire Planet // Futurism
Rapper Lil Uzi Vert says he’s working on buying the gas giant exoplanet WASP-127b in what would certainly be the first purchase of its kind. Unfortunately, Uzi — who previously embedded a $24 million diamond into his forehead and joined Grimes in a vow to embed computer chips into their brains to obtain the “knowledge of the Gods” next year — may not have the firmest grasp on space law, per Insider‘s reporting. Experts told the outlet that buying an exoplanet is legally impossible (and even if it were legal, would Uzi be able to afford it? Probably not). Still, the nonsensical announcement raises important questions about who owns the cosmos (no one) and what it would take for that to change...
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A Defunct Video Hosting Site Is Flooding Normal Websites With Hardcore Porn // VICE
Hardcore porn is embedded all over regular-ass websites because a porn company has purchased the domain of a popular, defunct video hosting site.  As pointed out by Twitter user @dox_gay, hardcore porn is now embedded on the pages of the Huffington Post, New York magazine, The Washington Post, and a host of other websites. This is because a porn site called 5 Star Porn HD bought the domain for Vidme, a brief YouTube competitor founded in 2014 and shuttered in 2017. Its Twitter account is still up, but the domain lapsed...
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How Designer DNA Is Changing Medicine // Scientific American
A genomic revolution is poised to cure sickle cell and other genetic diseases. We are at a point on the curve of an emerging technology that may forever alter our approach to treating diseases like sickle cell. That world, the cutting-edge world of innovative genomic therapies, is once again in the midst of explosive change—and designer DNA lies at the heart of the conversation.
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Weather App Now Warns You When It's Hot Enough to Drop Dead // Futurism
The weather app Carrot, which is known for peppering its weather reports with sardonic jokes, just implemented a key update: the app will now warn you when it’s so hot that going outside could cause you to simply drop dead. Specifically, Carrot now includes a “wet bulb” readout, Gizmodo reports, which is a measurement based mostly on temperature and humidity. When the number gets high enough, the human body loses its ability to cool itself off and risks shutting down, to put it mildly. So even though Carrot may pepper in irreverent jokes about polar bears vanishing during the intense heat, its new wet bulb warnings may very well save lives...
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Biopolymer Dressing Could Be Cheap Aid for Chronic Wounds // Futurity
Researchers are working to develop a low-cost, practical biopolymer dressing that helps heal chronic wounds. Tens of millions of patients around the world suffer from persistent and potentially life-threatening wounds. These chronic wounds, which are also a leading cause of amputation, have treatments, but the cost of existing wound dressings can prevent them from reaching people in need...
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China launches secretive suborbital vehicle for reusable space transportation system // SpaceNews
China conducted a clandestine first test flight of a reusable suborbital vehicle Friday as a part of development of a reusable space transportation system. The vehicle launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center Friday and later landed at an airport just over 800 kilometers away at Alxa League in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC) announced. No images nor footage nor further information, such as altitude, flight duration or propulsion systems, were provided. The CASC release stated however that the vehicle uses integrated aviation and space technologies and indicates a vertical takeoff and horizontal landing (VTHL) profile...
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Japan Sets New Record for Internet Speed at 319 Terabits per Second // SingularityHub
In August of last year, a University College London (UCL) team, set the top mark at 178 terabits per second. Now, a year later, researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) say they’ve nearly doubled the record with speeds of 319 terabits per second. It’s worth putting that into perspective for a moment. When the UCL team announced their results last year, they said you could download Netflix’s entire catalog in a second with their tech. The NICT team has doubled that Netflix-library-per-second speed...
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Facebook’s Next Target: The Religious Experience // New York Times
The company is intensifying formal partnerships with faith groups across the United States and shaping the future of religious experience. Months before the megachurch Hillsong opened its new outpost in Atlanta, its pastor sought advice on how to build a church in a pandemic. From Facebook. The social media giant had a proposition, Sam Collier, the pastor, recalled in an interview: to use the church as a case study to explore how churches can “go further farther on Facebook.”...
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Can we build a computer with free will? // TNW
Do you have free will? Can you make your own decisions? Or are you more like an automaton, just moving as required by your constituent parts? Probably, like most people, you feel you have something called free will. Your decisions are not predetermined; you could do otherwise. Yet scientists can tell you that you are made up of atoms and molecules and that they are governed by the laws of physics. Fundamentally, then – in terms of atoms and molecules – we can predict the future for any given starting point. This seems to leave no room for free will, alternative actions, or decisions...
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Indiana To Build Wireless In-Motion Charging For Electric Vehicles On Highway // Zero Hedge
The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) has begun the first phase of a project to transform a segment of the state's highway into wireless charging pavement for electric vehicles, according to local news WRTV. INDOT partnered with Advancing Sustainability through Power Infrastructure for Road Electrification (ASPIRE) Initiative, in a three-phase project that will use magnetizable concrete, developed by a German startup Magment GmbH, to allow seamless wireless charging of electric vehicles while in motion...
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Fun Stuff 🚀

Cool projects, articles, games, books, and other nerdy speculative things that I've discovered recently.

Open Calls/Submissions/Opportunities & Cool Projects

Open Calls, Submissions & Other Opportunities

Call for papers: IxD&A Journal - Interaction Design & Architecture(s) Autumn 2021 issue
Speculative and Critical Design: Approaches & influences in education // Deadline September 9th

Speculative and Critical Design approaches and related Design Fiction practices are increasingly finding their place within interaction design and technology design educational programs. The guest editors of this special issue are partners in the SpeculativeEdu project (Speculative Design – Educational Resource Toolkit), funded by the European Union, to explore novel educational skills and practices for the 21st century, especially those focused on the critical relations between technology and people. 
The inherently discursive and provocative nature of the Speculative or Critical Design approach makes it potentially useful for both teaching practical design skills and for reflecting on theoretical positions and the implications of introducing designed objects and systems into the world. There are however tensions and unresolved issues, and there is much potential for further development that deserves examination, particularly in the context of education, such as practical questions around: how to develop and share sets of tools, techniques, and methods for concept creation; how to address aspects such as worldbuilding and the communication of narratives; and how best to apply criteria for assessment in educational domains as diverse as product and service design, architecture and urban studies, fashion design, media and communication, human-computer interaction, socio-technical studies, and other creative fields.
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Cool Projects

Synthetic Messenger: A Botnet Scheme for Climate News
Synthetic Messenger is a botnet that artificially inflates the value of climate news. Everyday it searches the internet for news articles covering climate change. Then 100 bots visit each article and click on every ad they can find.
Check It Out

Tessellation in Spacetime [5678/6789] // Caroline Barrueco and Pollinations [thomash]
An ever evolving cellular automaton which changes every 3 minutes and exists outside of your browser. The Tessellation lives and evolves autonomously. Collecting will generate a unique 3D printed object of the tessellation at the moment of transaction. To claim your 3D print, send an email to with profile link. The color will be a surprise...
Check It Out

Gaming, Shows, Books & Other Random Cool Stuff

World’s First Flying Motorcycle Is Getting one Test Closer To Becoming a Reality // Auto Evolution
David Mayman is a visionary, an inventor, and passionate aviator. He is also the founder and CEO of JetPack Aviation, a VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft manufacturer based in Los Angeles. After the company succeeded in building the world’s first portable JetPack, it started advertising another exciting product: the world’s first flying motorcycle, called Speeder...
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How the Flipper Zero Hacker Multitool Gets Made and Tested // Hackaday
Flipper Zero is an open-source multitool for hackers, and [Pavel] recently shared details on what goes into the production and testing of these devices. Each unit contains four separate PCBs, and in high-volume production it is inevitable that some boards are faulty in some way. Not all faults are identical — some are not even obvious —  but they all must be dealt with before they end up in a finished product.
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Let's Go Back In Time And Visit A Japanese Arcade In 1979 // Kotaku
People seemed to enjoy that video we shared a couple months back of a Japanese arcade in 1992, so tonight let’s wind the clock back another couple of decades and check out a Japanese arcade from the 1970s. Via Boing-Boing, this is Tokyo arcade World Game as it stood in 1979, and this video isn’t a polished, short news story but 18 minutes of raw footage showing patrons pumping coins into stuff like Space Invaders...
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The First Mobile Phone Call Was 75 Years Ago—How Technologies Go From Breakthrough to Big Time // SingularityHub
I have a cellphone built into my watch. People now take this type of technology for granted, but not so long ago it was firmly in the realm of science fiction. The transition from fantasy to reality was far from the flip of a switch. The amount of time, money, talent, and effort required to put a telephone on my wrist spanned far beyond any one product development cycle. The first mobile phone service, for 80-pound telephones installed in cars, was demonstrated on June 17, 1946, 75 years ago...
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What I'm Reading

Here is a quick snapshot of my favorite books, shows, games podcasts, and articles this week.

Storm Rising
Mercedes Lackey

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
Isabel Wilkerson

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right
Arlie Russell Hochschild

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