SciFly // 151 // Remote Speculations Week 49/50

Speculative Events, News & Resources | Sent 2/22

Hey SciFly Readers!

This week, in purely nerd out fashion, I want to talk a little bit about a new video game I've been playing since just after publishing the last issue, Valheim. Valheim is a beautiful, procedurally-generated world where you have to craft, fight, build etc. so you can eventually explore and conquer the world in game.

At first, I wasn't sure I was going to like the game. I have never played a 'survival' game before, where things like drinking water, eating, and the environment all contribute to your character's health and wellbeing. It's very much, you against the world. But, somehow, within 10 minutes of starting, I was hopelessly hooked.

You start off in Valheim with absolutely nothing, dropped off in the middle of nowhere. You begin game by picking up branches and rocks, trying to build a little shelter for yourself (with lots of caveats about how you can place fires so you won't suffocate yourself, or what is considered enough to be 'shelter'). Then you start hunting, then make clothes and tools. Then build a bigger settlement with more stuff... etc. etc. etc.

Nominally the goal of the game is to defeat bosses which hold an important item/recipe you need to progress to the next 'stage' of the game (stone, bronze, iron etc.). But in reality, you can play it however you want, and that is exactly what I found myself doing when I first started off. Forget about fighting monsters, I just kept building things.

From my first shack, I fell in love with the ability to plan, design, and execute my building ideas, especially since they are somewhat based on they physics of the materials, the landscape, and the types of support you use.  Soon I found myself 25 days into the game (afterall, you have to gather all your building materials) having killed no bosses, but with a wonderful lake house built out onto a cliff, another built into the side of a mountain, and another just to try out weird shapes. 

Here are some pictures of my first creations...
Then, when I thought the game couldn't get more engrossing, I started playing it cooperatively with other people.

About a week in, one of my best friends from high school told me that they would be starting a server with their husband and some friends and that I could come and join them, live-chatting on Discord as we played. While I've kind of done this a little in the past, this was my first time really playing a game with lots of other people at the same time, and boy was it different!

Naturally, we all got dropped with nothing and had to start going from there. But instead of just having to plan and execute your own strategy, you now have several other people, all with things they like to do in the game (and are good at from playing other games), design styles, ways of planning, ways of thinking, etc.

We soon found ourselves working out a system for beds, for organizing crafting materials, sharing stuff we gathered, and splitting up tasks like exploring, gathering, building, etc. As we quickly expanded, we soon had to figure out where to throw our trash (in a pit... I know, I know!), creating a storage system and building for our growing list of stuff, and a plan of action for what we needed to try to kill the next boss (after woefully and hilariously attempting a sortie together last night). Now we are trying to figure out how we might want to spread our town out big enough in the future for everyone to build and design their own homes, or how to create a system where we can link up various settlements together more quickly as we need to explore further into the world.

Now, I know it is just a game, but after playing with friends for just a couple of days, it is AMAZING to me how something like a video game can pose interesting questions about how we organize and collaborate with one another virtually. Similarly to Valheim, some of us may be more of explorers, or builders, or organizers, and we have to find ways which we can best split up responsibilities to get things done, but try to lean into what people enjoy doing (after all, it is meant to be fun).

I've already learned lots of things about myself that I didn't expect from playing the game. For example, I always thought I'd be more of a fighter and explorer when given the choice, but I realized that I'm 100% happy to sit back at base and build things. I could happily sit in that game for days, planning and designing an entire city. The whole thing seems like an exciting puzzle to be unwrapped, a UX challenge scaled across the face of an entire (somewhat fictional, but also very real since other real people are involved) new society, and very beginnings of a collaborative effort at understanding what it means to leave your mark' on an undiscovered world.

I wonder what other things games like Valheim can teach us about ourselves, how we work with others, and maybe, tangentially, how we might better find and leverage our strengths to collaboratively imagine, plan, and build the worlds and futures we imagine.

And... my geek moment is done.

Actually, let's be honest, I need to get back to our settlement and start figuring out the most user-friendly way to build our Great Hall on a cliff.  😂

Anyway, here are a couple of pictures of our settlement and from our adventures so far,

If you want to check out Valheim, you can pick it up for about $20 on Steam. If you don't have a PC, I recommend checking out GeForce Now, which has helped me play lots of new stuff on my Mac recently, all with amazing graphics!!

Finally, here is a great article talking about the game (which, by the way, is still in early-access and only 2 weeks old!!!)
The beginnings of what will one day become a bustling megalopolis... Probably not...but we have been very busy leveling and planning out our future home! Leveling ground is no joke in this game!
They asked me to build a 'storage room' so I made this 6 room storage unit, complete with tiered shelving, labeled doors, and a heated loft above... you never know, we may need to expand!
The stairs up to our temporary heated loft housing. We had to demolish our initial starter house in prep for a more planned arrangement, and are currently all camping out here.
Our temporary bedroom. It's a little tight, lol. Each player has to claim a bed so they will return there when they die. We used signs so that everyone knows which bed is theirs. I'm Uriel btw  (why my sign is not blacked out). 
We all got together to build and take this boat to an island to fight the second boss which turned out to be a hilarious bloodbath... of us. Also, the coordination of getting everyone on the boat, learning to steer the boat, and people falling off the boat and drowning was probably the funniest thing that I've seen all month. ❤️
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed a look into our world!!!

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, February 22nd - Monday, March 1st


Tuesday, February 23

A speculative exploration of near-future Drogheda // 7pm - 10pm EST // Free
A Giant Leap​ is an exploration of Drogheda, past and present, to co-create a future scenario based around the materiality of plastic in partnership with Science Gallery Dublin and Highlanes Gallery. Life saving, polluting, flexible, toxic and resilient. Plastic is a material riddled with contractions symbolic of our modern world. What will Drogheda look like in the future if we continue on a growth fueled business-as-usual trajectory? What new industries, customs and cultures will emerge? Will guilds remerge as the power brokers in this near future techno space age? Join us for a virtual workshop to explore and contribute to the ever evolving story of ​A Giant Leap​
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Creating Hawaiian Futures Artist's Talk // 9pm - 10:30pm EST // $0 - $20
DISplace co-curator, artist and kapa-maker Lehuauakea will host a special conversation with digital artist Kevin Matthew Kaunuaki’i Kiesel and lei maker and Hula teacher Kalei’okalani Matsui about creating Hawaiian futures in the Pacific Northwest. They will share about their artistic journeys, discuss ways of imagining and creating through a lens of Indigenous futurism, and consider what that means for Hawaiians on the mainland today. DISplace, Five Oaks Museum’s current featured exhibition, shines light on the widely unknown connection between Hawai‘i, the Pacific Northwest, and the communities that continue to flow between these two regions. As far back as 1787, people coming from and through the Hawaiian Islands to what’s currently considered the Pacific Northwest have made important contributions to culture and industry throughout the region. The multi-faceted online exhibition combines deep historical research with contemporary artworks and personal stories sourced directly from today’s regional communities.
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W21: Does AI need a Body? Gretchen Andrew and Helene von Schwichow // 1:30pm - 2:45pm EST // Donation
W21's theme is "Dis/embodiment". The speakers will be asked two questions about this theme. The speakers will be asked three questions: Does AI need a body? How do gender and dis/embodiment play out in the spaces you inhabit? In your work? Is it possible, and if so how, to define what it means to be a ‘woman’ in the 21st Century? What would you say to future generations of women?
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Democratizing 3D creation: a designer perspective // 12pm - 1pm EST // Free
Creating 3D content is tough! Mastering tools like 3DS Max, Maya, Cinema 4D, Blender, Unity or Unreal requires expensive education and years of practice. It only makes sense to craft in 3D if you can offset the high production costs with a large enough consumer audience willing to pay for your content. This leads to two major problems: An expensive workflow is not iterative and is less experimental and innovative, Many are scared away by the complexity and the whole creation process is less inclusive.  In this talk with Nathanael (a.k.a. N8) we will uncover how things have changed over the past years and how VR is contributing to making 3D creation more iterative and inclusive
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Mixed Realities: Virtual and Physical Interaction // 1pm - 2pm EST // £0 – £5
A discussion with artists and game designers who explore the cross-over between virtual and physical experiences, such as alternate reality games (ARGs) and interactive, virtual theatre and comedy. Yann Seznec is an artist whose work focuses on sound, music, physical interaction, games, and building new instruments. Mona is a Lecturer in Immersive Experience Design at Abertay University. Her research is practice-based and focuses on the convergence of contemporary performance practices and video games, particularly designing hybrid forms of storytelling, performative games, mixed-reality and immersive experiences and games for public spaces and heritage sites. Foxdog Studios, Lloyd Henning and Peter Sutton, are computer programmers turned live performers. They create comedy shows that put the audience in control of interactive games and DIY gadgets. Laura E. Hall is an artist, writer, puzzle-maker, immersive environment and narrative designer living in Portland, Oregon. Her work focuses on the intersections between arts, culture, and technology, especially in gaming.
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The Age of Hyper-Personalization and Its Impact on UX // 7pm - 8pm EST // Free
Today digital customers expect personalized experiences. 91% of consumers say they are more likely to shop with brands that provide offers and recommendations that are relevant to them*. With the ability to analyze and segment vast amounts of customer and prospect data, CDPs (Customer Data Platforms) provide a 360-degree view of a customer, including how they live and interact with a company. While CDPs are not new (first arrived on the marketing scene around 2013) they’ve become less of a buzzword and more of a staple in marketing organizations recently. We will dive deeper into how CDPs can impact user experience, and how they help brands to humanize relationships and to perform real-time customization of a customer’s buying journey. (*Accenture, Pulse Check 2018)
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Wednesday, February 24

Pierce Gordon: Design by the 99% // 1pm - 3pm EST // Free
Liberatory transformation requires radical honesty. Our world, and institutions that support design inside it, have been a part of a historical legacy that institutionalizes oppression across the world. Before we build a new future, however, we must work to pool, create, and support new tools that imagine the future at all scopes. Fortunately, communities that leverage the values of equity and the practice of design are building bridges forward. This talk, among others, is a manifesto for the DePaul community who wants to learn the why, who, and how of this burgeoning field.
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Arduino For Artists // 11am EST // Free
This workshop explores the possibilities that Arduino holds for makers of live performance - whether you are interested in robotics, sound, light, or harnessing technology to create interactive environments. The session will cover inspiring creative projects built using Arduino alongside simple applications that are quick, easy, and affordable to build. You will learn about the Arduino microcontroller: it’s software environment and how to hook up basic components, as well as other similar technologies. You will also have an opportunity to talk about your ideas and learn how to put them into action.
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In & Around Design: Kestin Cornwall // 12pm - 1pm EST // Free
A discussion on North American media while asking questions for the culture. Kestin Cornwall aims to create art to document change and to ask questions. Cornwall tries to approach his work as a visual thinker and tries to think critically. Media has often distorted representations of Black and Brown males; how they speak, love, and live. The North American media industry is the largest globally. Therefore it has a massive effect on how the world views minorities, specifically Black and Brown males. Cornwall has seen how this affects design. With his work, Cornwall wants to humanize Black women and Black men while uniquely representing them.
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Virtual Forum #15: DIMENSIONS OF THE SPATIAL WEB // 11am - 12:30pm EST // Free
Virtual Reality is entering into the disruptive phase. This exponential technology has the power to entirely change our work and our lives! The SingularityU Vienna Chapter invites you to discuss questions around the spatial web consisting of decentralised computer power, billions of sensors and high speed connectivity which will digitize experiences and teleport our senses into a computer-generated world where the limits of imagination become the only brake on reality. 
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How to give form to sentimental machines? // 10am - 11am EST // Free
A space to propose, probe and prototype the future of our emotional life with technologies and robots. It actively engages minds and practices across the disciplinary spectrum, bringing together interested minds and hands from science, technology, philosophy, engineering, arts and design, as well as members of the public over the delicate topics of emotions, to foster emergent dialogues and collaborations for how our affective futures could be and how they should be. This round table session discusses the creation of embodying affect and emotion through interactive materiality, including interactive objects, wearable artefacts and robotics.
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Thursday, February 25

Joint-Launch of CREATURE and CUBE Research Centres // 12:30pm - 2:30pm EST // Free
The Research Centre for Creative Arts, Cultures and Engagement (CREATURE) brings together interdisciplinary research in the creative arts, its practice, cultural impact and societal engagement. The Centre for Urban and Built Ecologies (CUBE) brings together architects, urbanists, artists and designers with collective research interests in environmental, social and cultural ecologies of cities. Dr Nydia A. Swaby |
 Becoming with the archive: from ethnographer to a/r/tographer. Professor Renata Tyszczuk | Times of urgencies: What if?
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Solarpunk St Helens! // 12:30pm - 2:30pm EST // Free
A hands-on digital workshop where local people can have their say about what St Helens should look like in the context of the mind-set of Solarpunk: sustainable, equal, and utopian. A creative, collaborative space to generate exciting ideas of how St Helen’s could look without any limits. The ideas generated will be fed into a virtual reality musical experience with writers Leo & Hyde and VR artist Rosie Summers called Turn The Page, Now What Do You See?
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Art/Talk: The World of Code/Art // 6pm - 7pm EST // Free
Art/Talks are a series of talks with innovative artists merging Art+Tech in order to inspire girls to pursue computer programming. The World of Code/Art will be hosted by Ellie Hayworth in conversation with Artist, Saya Woolfalk to discuss her other-worldly vision made possible through the application of technology and computer science. Saya Woolfalk (Japan, 1979) is a New York based artist who uses science fiction and fantasy to re-imagine the world in multiple dimensions. With the multi-year projects No Place, The Empathics, and ChimaTEK, Woolfalk has created the world of the Empathics, a fictional race of women who are able to alter their genetic make-up and fuse with plants. With each body of work, Woolfalk continues to build the narrative of these women's lives, and questions the utopian possibilities of cultural hybridity.
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GROUNDWERK 9.4 // Alternative Artist Economies III // 12:30pm - 2:30pm EST // Free
In this workshop, led by artist Kathrin Böhm, we will consider ways in which artistic practice is also economic practice, and will explore alternative economic systems that operate alongside the dominance of the art market. Together, we will map out diverse and unseen economies within our own work, and will look at examples of artworks and creative projects that exist as economic models. Touching on a range of case studies and concrete concepts such as Take Back the Economy, Community Economies and Dark Matter, we will look at ways of organising the economies that underpin our work in ways that are interdependent, locally-responsive and more resilient.
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Beyond Parasocial Interaction: Speed Dating with Ghosts // 3pm - 4pm EST // £0 – £5
Have you cared for a virtual pet, mourned a favourite character, or agonised over which video game character to date? If so, this event is for you! This talk, followed by interactive gameplay, will explore our emotional attachments to imaginary characters and consider their implications on our relationship with technology. Suitable for anyone interested in creative technology, completely new to game design, and experienced game designers with an interest in learning new approaches and critical theories.
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Re-Envisioning the Think Tank // 11am - 1pm EST // Free
An Open Forum for artists, performers, curators, designers and arts practitioners, who have a contribution to make to society beyond the production of an object, and are keen to proactively discuss how to be valued in relation to matters concerning our civilisation. At a time when trust in institutions has eroded and the blind faith in scientific expertise is questioned, the association of specialised groups of interest to analyse and advocate for “society at large” feels ever more contentious. Meanwhile, governments are increasingly seeking out intellectual and expert support to validate their evidence-based narratives. Considering the potential of progressive forms of decentralised governance, the value of transdisciplinary cooperative networks and the importance of interchanging experts with less specialist social actors, Re-Envisioning the Think Tank is an attempt at adding fresh priorities and values to the format.
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Friday, February 26

Forget 2021: the future of automated behavioral science // 7pm - 8:30pm EST // Free
Join us for a discussion on the future of psychology-driven technology, in a lively conversation on neurotech-based nudging. During this session, Dr. Brain Cugelman will cover what it means to apply behavioral science in technology. However, the focus will be on designing for technology that does not yet exist. Brian will cover new innovations in technology, classic behavior science, and explore practical frameworks for building psychology-inspired tech that’s worthy of any Black Mirror episode.
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Workshops with Tjawangwa Dema and Kirk Sides // 1pm - 5pm EST // Free
A day of workshops exploring how planetary and climate change affect our modes of knowledge production, storytelling, and aesthetic practice. Join internationally acclaimed poet Tjawangwa Dema (TJ Dema) and groundbreaking scholar Kirk Sides for a day of workshops exploring how planetary and climate change affect our modes of knowledge production, storytelling, and aesthetic practice.
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TechTalks: Tackling Race, Bias & Inequality in Artificial Intelligence // 6pm - 7:30pm EST // Free
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly impacting our lives and interacting with the biases and inequalities that exist in our society. What does this mean for people of color? Can we—and should we—regulate AI? How do we harness its power to create a more just and equitable future? Hear from our panel of experts for a lively discussion about how AI is transforming our society and what next steps we can all take.
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Saturday, February 27

GIF Culture: Lecture & Workshop // 5pm - 6:30pm EST // Free
Join artist Evelyn Contreras and learn about the historical components that created the first GIF and its present day cultural renaissance. This brief lecture will be followed by an interactive workshop. Participants will be introduced to GIF-making through the Photomosh program, which is free to use online. Participants are encouraged to have personal photography or found imagery saved on their computers to use in the creation of their own GIF. Attendees will leave the workshop with many GIF variations and knowledge of the historical and cultural components that make up the GIF.
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Designing Immersive Experiences Through Visual Narrative // 1pm - 4pm EST // $250
The course is designed to give a wide perspective of terms and practices in digital art and visual culture regarding concepts of game aesthetics and visual narrative. It will present multidisciplinary and cross-media framework of the study engaged by various cases from game development practices. The historical framework of art practices will be addresses widely, following the principles of traditional art theory and analysis for pursuing developing practices in contemporary mediums of expression and storytelling, such as video games. The agenda of the course is planed to provide an extensive insight into the present practices of digital art creation (2D and 3D).
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Sunday, February 28

Nothing to Report 👾

Monday, March 1

World Future Day: Decolonizing Futures // 2pm - 3:30pm EST // Free
The future is much more than the Jetsons could make of it. Join us for a talk about science fiction subgenres that are decolonizing mainstream futures by broadening our views on ancestrality, utopia, afrofuturism, indigenous and LGBTQI+ perspectives. Meet writers and researchers that are taking science fiction and futurology to a next step towards a more inclusive, diverse, and exciting view of the future.
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World Future Day: Technology + Culture // 10am - 11:30am EST // Free
Was thinking something like this: From the different producers of vaccines to the characterization of texting platforms, national identity is influencing our use of technologies. Join us in our Second Tech + Culture round table as we explore the role of nationalism in our engagements with emerging tech.
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World Future Day: Beyond Scenarios // 7am - 8:30am EST // Free
Foresight practitioners discuss the benefits of their methodological experiments. Futures Space develops inclusive community based collaborative methods and platforms. Envisioning designs digital tools and interfaces to structure weak-signals, future trends and scenarios. LIID prototypes future conceptual matrix, performative research kits and design fiction methods.
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World Future Day: Vision 2024 // 3/1, 1pm - 3/31, 3pm EDT // Free
Join Envisioning in creating a shared vision for the future. You will be asked to craft a personal and vivid depiction of 2024. This might include your sense of purpose, your role in society or simply the future you want to inhabit. Presentations will be recorded and used to inform Envisioning's strategic roadmap. You will be invited to a private Slack channel with other cohorts and receive access to their vision presentations. Intent is powerful.
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GLITCH >> An Ecology of Myths // 1pm - 3pm EST // Free
Myths might be our deepest storytelling software, some as old as time itself. Most of modern society still runs on these powerful narratives, structuring the way we understand and act within the world. Connect this to ecology and we can dissect one of our most pressing issues: human disconnection from “nature”. From the Garden of Eden to the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, every culture has its own myth of the origins of humans on earth. In this Teach-in you will step into the Mythmaker’s shoes and harness your power of speculative storytelling. Using our collective imagination, we will wonder about alternative foundations to rethink the relation between human and “nature”.
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WEEK 2 - Tuesday, March 2nd - Monday, March 8th


Tuesday, March 2

The Maker Revolution: Can craft save our cities? // 11am - 12pm EST // Free
Our high streets were already in trouble before the pandemic, and now our urban centres are facing pressure like never before. This talk, hosted by Crafts magazine, will explore the role of makers and galleries in urban regeneration and how they can bring life back to the heart of our cities. 
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Wednesday, March 3

Augmenting the Accessibility in The Future of Digital Art - Anga + Petukhov // 1:30pm - 2:45pm EST // Free
Samm and Veronica will discuss their collaborative residency project “”, an audio-visual piece that transmits their feelings towards 2020’s volatility. This talk is especially relevant to the current pandemic situation, with both artists discussing the difficulties of collaborating on a project during the lockdown, in different cities, with no access to normal facilities and higher-end technology. They will talk about using alternative programs and methods to achieve the desired audio-visual experience and how this metamorphosis and constant evolution of the piece happened.
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Virtual Reality (VR) Mini-Talks // 8am - 9am EST // £0 – £5
Game designers and creative technologists working in the field of Virtual Reality will demo and talk about their work in a series of 5-15 minute mini-talks, exploring the range and creative possibility of VR as an interactive artform.
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Accelerated change: Gaming // 2pm - 3pm EST // Free
Gaming exploded in 2020 as a global pandemic has only reinforced the new edge entertainment trend. In times of massive uncertainty, the world turned to simulated reality games as a new way to connect and unwind. This time we are going to explore the impact of the pandemic on the gaming and iGaming, uncover new trends and opportunities within the booming industry and learn what to expect for 2021 in a discussion panel with key figures in the gaming community of Israel, the UK, and Ukraine.
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Thursday, March 4

In conversation with Indira Allegra // "Warping the Future"
The first of a series of conversations with artists featured in “Warping the Future”. “In conversation with” we will explore the artist’s projects, their take on the relationship between craft and technology, and how their practice relates to this intersection.
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FieldWorks 5 // 11am - 12pm EST // Free

Join MDes Graphic Design course leader Jean Boyd for conversation and Q&A with leading designer, writer and curator Lucienne Roberts. Studio LucienneRoberts+ is committed to making accessible, engaging work with a socially aware agenda, and she is co-founder of design advocacy initiative GraphicDesign&. Her book 'Good: an Introduction to Ethics in Graphic Design' has contributed significantly to the understanding of ethics and responsibility in design. The FieldWorks series explores art and design research in the field of civic space, whose work supports more equitable, sustainable and liveable futures.
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Artist in conversation: Ryan Gander // 12pm - 12:45pm EST // £0 – £5
Join artist Ryan Gander in conversation with curator Jeanine Griffin as he talks about his new work with Invisible Dust and how his artistic practice relates to thinking about the future. Ryan Gander is an artist living and working in Suffolk and London. He has established an international reputation through artworks that materialize in many different forms from sculpture to film, writing, graphic design, installation, performance and more besides.
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INTERFACE: Science + Art + Health // 2pm - 6pm EST // Free
In 2020 the Centre for Systems Modelling & Quantitative Biomedicine (SMQB) and the EPSRC Centre for Predictive Modelling in Healthcare embarked on a new Artist-in-Residence programme. Four multidisciplinary artists joined forces with researchers and clinicians working at the interface between mathematics, biology and healthcare. INTERFACE brings together their artist residency stories for an informal evening of sharing and conversation around science + art + health.
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Matrix of Mobility: Networks of Objects and Exchange // 3/4, 12pm - 3/5, 6pm EST // Free
The eighth edition of the Wollesen Memorial Graduate Symposium will focus on networks and mobility in art history and visual culture. The world is connected by waves of movement and exchange, from land-based and ocean-faring migration to networks of objects and encounters. This symposium seeks to explore the historical and contemporary currents of networked mobility and places of exchange.
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Creative AI: From Expressive Mimicry to Critical Inquiry // 9pm - 10pm EST // Free
This lecture and the workshop are a part of guest speaker lecture series "Data + AI + Design" sponsored by the Artistic Excellence Programming Grant from the College of Humanities and the Arts. Angus Forbes is an Associate Professor in the Computational Media Department at University of California, Santa Cruz, where I direct the UCSC Creative Coding Lab. His research investigates novel techniques for visualizing and interacting with complex scientific information; his interactive artwork has been featured at museums, galleries, and festivals throughout the world. From 2013 through 2017, he chaired the IEEE VIS Arts Program, a forum that promotes dialogue about the relation of aesthetics and design to visualization research. He currently serves as the Art Gallery chair for SIGGRAPH 2021. 
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Convivial AI: Imagining New Algorithmic Instruments // 6:30pm - 8pm EST // $30
The solutionism of too much AI ideology sees human lives, landscapes, and culture as problems to be solved through the analysis of data and automated decision making. Technologies are not developed to support a collective inhabitation of a shared world but rather a locally optimized world that facilitates prediction and control. This workshop will draw on ideas of conviviality (e.g. Ivan Illich) to imagine approaches to machine learning and automated systems that create opportunities for interaction and thriving rather than alienation. We will look at broad concepts around conviviality, the current arc of AI solutions and imagine prototypes of different futures that allow us to better inhabit our bodies, our environments, and our communities.
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Governing Public Values in a Platform Society // 9am EST // Free
The growing pains of digitization involve intense struggles between competing ideological systems and contesting societal actors—market, government and civil society—raising important questions about responsibility and accountability. While two large ecosystems rule the global online world—a Chinese and American-based ecosystem—the latter has overwhelmingly penetrated Western-European societies, disrupting markets and labor relations, transforming social and civic practices, and affecting democracies. Online platforms paradoxically bypass the institutional processes through which European democratic societies are organized, while at the same time they clash with local, national, and supra-national governments over who controls data-flows and algorithms. This lecture concentrates on the position of European (private and public) interests vis-à-vis the interests of an American-based online ecosystem, driven by a handful of high-tech corporations.
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Science & Society 5: Capitalism vs. Climate // 7pm - 8:30pm EST // Free
The quest for short-term profits has been to the detriment of a habitable planet. Mining, overfishing, and clear cutting have led to pollution, extinctions, and loss of nature. By combusting fossil fuels, we’ve gone beyond changing ecology to changing the very chemistry of the atmosphere and ocean. Extractive capitalism has upended our climate. Yet, might it also, given the power of markets, help us find a way forward? This moment in human history requires nothing less than transformation—of electricity, transportation, agriculture, buildings—of our relationships to nature and to each other. But we actually have most of the solutions we need, from renewable energy to regenerative farming. Can we implement them at scale within a financial system that maximizes quarterly profits? How might banks, insurance companies, corporations, and the like become an intentional and engaged part of the solution? And what is the role of governments? Of communities? Of artists and storytellers? 
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Friday, March 5

Data Through Design Exhibition - Opening Night // 6pm - 9pm EST // Free
This year's theme is Ground Truth, in reference to the insight we receive from being ”on the ground,” collecting or confirming data through direct observation, as opposed to abstract estimates, samples, or reports derived from remote locations. Data Through Design seeks works that investigate this experience to connect data and the public to physical place and personal experience. Data Through Design is part of NYC Open Data Week and is sponsored by the Mayor's Office of Data Analytics and Brooklyn Arts Council. 
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Saturday, March 6

TEDxBerkeley 2021: Imagine If... // 3/6, 2pm - 3/7, 3:30pm EST // Free
If all the clouds in the sky melted into cotton candy, would they taste blue or pink? As kids, questions like this came as naturally as breathing. With our imagination flowing freely, nothing was impossible. Imagination is a quality so deeply ingrained in human nature that we almost take it for granted. Yet, it also inspires incredible change. Imagine if we had quantum computing, we lived in a prejudice-free society, we eliminated carbon emissions... This year, at TEDxBerkeley 2021: Imagine If…, we invite you to explore how imagination has shaped history and offers limitless possibilities for the future.
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Queering Fantasy: A Panel Discussion // 3pm - 4:30pm EST // Free
Epic fantasy may once have been strictly the realm of conflict between the epitome of good and evil, amidst worlds of terrifying beasts and stern knights. But as long as there have have been classifications and rules, there have been writers who blur the lines and push boundaries. Join us for a panel discussion between writers Christopher Caldwell, CL Clark, Eboni Dunbar & CL Polk, moderated by fellow writer Brent Lambert. They'll tease apart genre lines, share theories, and perhaps, if we are lucky, spill some secrets.
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Sunday, March 7

Creating Edible Urban Worlds: Techniques and Politics of Guerrilla Grafting // 1pm - 2:30pm EST // $0 - $50
In conjunction with the recent planting of the Tree of 40 Fruit planted by Sam Van Aken, this online workshop will introduce participants to the basics of fruit tree grafting, with attention to urban street trees. Margaretha Haughwout of the Guerrilla Grafters will demonstrate basic grafting techniques, discuss strategies for grafting on city streets, and talk about the stakes involved for tactical urban commons. She will outline the dynamics of public and private space in urban contexts, and how this guerrilla practice situates in larger interventionist, ecological, and social art contexts.
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Monday, March 8

Breaking Down Silos: Art/Design-Science Collaboration Workshop // 3/8, 4pm - 3/9, 10:30am EST // Free
This two-day workshop is designed for people who are interested in multi-disciplinary collaborations between art, design, and science. Please specify whether you are a designer, artist, scientist or other discipline upon registration. Our workshop aims to help scientists, designers and artists to gain insight into the nature of collaborations, its challenges and difficulties, as well as to discuss various approaches and perspectives on creating a productive trans/multi-disciplinary collaboration.
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Upcoming Speculative Futures Meetups 

Trick or Trend ? Making sense of global trends from a local perspective// Speculative Futures Montreal // Wednesday, February 24th, 7pm - 8:30pm EST // Free
We are back and invite you to take a critical look at the major trends that have been announced for 2021! Every year, hundreds of trend reports are released. But how can we make sense of them? We'll take a sample of these and critically discuss how they are relevant at the individual and regional levels. Join us to decipher global cultural, technological and social trends with two local forecasting experts, Marie-Michèle Larivée and Patrick Tanguay. During this digital workshop, we will share tips on trendspotting and facilitate speculative discussions to assess how upcoming trends might apply to you and to Québec - or not.
Marie-Michèle Larivée is a Trend, Strategy and Foresight consultant. She helps organizations navigate the future with sustainable eyewear. Her mission is to avoid filling shelves with unwanted products by consciously creating products, services, strategies tailored to intrinsic needs in tomorrow's society.
Patrick Tanguay is a generalist, a synthesist, a thought partner and the curator of Sentiers, an eclectic weekly newsletter exploring technology in society, signals of changes, and prospective futures.
Learn More

Futures Literacy Series with Jake Dunagan // Speculative Futures LA // Thursday, February 25th, 3pm - 4:30pm EST // Free

A country half democratic and half fascist cannot endure. After the near-death experience of January 6th, there was an opening to re-imagine and re-invigorate American Democracy™. It appears that anti-democratic forces are not having a change of heart, which means the country is likely in a democratic death spiral. So, what other options are there? In this interactive session, Jake Dunagan, Director of the Governance Futures Lab at the Institute for the Future will evaluate the current condition of American Democracy, and offer some tools for thinking and dreaming systematically about new ways to organize and govern life. 
Jake helps people see and feel alternative possibilities so they can create better futures. His work as an experiential futurist, political system designer, and professor of foresight centers around the concept of social invention—developing futures concepts and participatory platforms to help organizations around the world re-imagine and re-design their futures. Jake directs the Governance Futures Lab at the Institute for the Future, a non-profit research and education group in Palo Alto, CA, and he teaches foresight in the Design Strategy MBA program at the California College of the Arts, the Center for Integrated Design at UT-Austin, the Diseño de Mañana program at CENTRO, a media and design university in Mexico City, and IFTF’s Foresight Essentials trainings.
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Our Futures! Imagining new ways to involve people in thinking about the future // Speculative Futures Louisville // Thursday, February 25th, 5:3pm - 7:30pm EST // Free
Please join us for OUR FUTURES: A game to imagine new ways to involve people in thinking about the future. We've taken the topics and ideas from our first meetup and added them into the deck for Our Futures from Nesta. At this Meetup we'll use the game to explore ways might explore those futures and engage the community.
"Our Futures, is meant to inspire and provoke new, and sometimes unusual, ways to unlock public imagination about alternative futures.
Key questions you'll ask throughout the game include – how might emerging technologies be used in combination with participatory futures approaches and how might they help us find new ways to involve citizens in tackling 21st century challenges?"
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Future Scouting: ­a gamified introduction to speculative and value-driven // Speculative Futures Sydney // Wednesday, March 3rd, 2:30am - 4:30am EST // Free
Immerse yourself in the fast-paced design activity game, Future Scouting, as a fun introduction to speculative design. With a focus on designing for core values (kindness, strength empathy, etc.), players design an invention based on a future technology (predictive technology, designer memories, etc.) and an interaction medium (touch, sound, emotion, etc.) Taken through a gamified workshop, players will sketch, ideate, storify, and sabotage other scout’s inventions. Designed initially as a fun introductory to speculative and value-driven design, Future Scouting has also been used in the University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka, and all inventions shared are now being captured on a world map to explore how location may influence people’s idea of what’s possible for the future.
Damien Lutz is a Senior UX Designer by day, and a designer/writer experimentalist by night. Designing dystopian technology for his sci-fi novels Amanojaku and The Lenz, Damien has been practicing his own form of speculative design since 2014, with his One Heart Treaty concept becoming a semi-finalist in the United Nation’s Futuring Peace initiative in 2020. Forced to pause and reflect by COVID-19 lockdowns, he devoted his spare time to experimenting with design beyond profit-driven projects. After producing a series of life-centred and value-focused design tools, he created the Future Scouting game to simplify speculative design’s scattered tools and elusive methods, and to make the practice more accessible for other designers. Damien has since published a guidebook to speculative design methodology on Amazon, also called Future Scouting.
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Speculative News & Resources 📰

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

How to Fix What The Innovation Economy Broke in America // MITTechReview
Across the country, small towns have been left behind. Finding a way to turn things around is crucial if American democracy is to be saved...
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Why France’s New Tech ‘Repairability Index’ Is a Big Deal // WIRED
Our electronic devices take a serious environmental toll, and one of the best ways to mitigate that is to use them for as long as possible before replacing them. But it’s hard to know how long a new gadget will last if you’re unsure how easy it will be to fix. Now, companies are going to have to start coming clean about that—in France, at least. In a world-first move last month, France began requiring makers of certain electronic devices, including smartphones and laptops, to tell consumers how repairable their products are. Manufacturers selling these devices in France must give their products a score, or “repairability index,” based on a range of criteria, including how easy it is to take the product apart and the availability of spare parts and technical documents...
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The US Military is Getting 3D Printing 'Factories' Inside Shipping Containers // Futurism
The United States Department of Defense just awarded a contract to additive manufacturing company ExOne to develop 3D printing mini-factories that could be deployed into the field during a military operation. The factories are essentially complete 3D printing labs that can be housed entirely within a shipping container, according to Interesting Engineering. It’s an intriguing — though not unprecedented — idea that the Defense Department says will help improve military logistics and allow for parts and tools to be replaced as needed on the spot.
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Bitcoin’s Blowing Up, and That’s Good News for Human Rights. Here’s Why // SingularityHub
Not surprisingly, more and more investors are now jumping on what can still seem like a techy, trendy bandwagon. In an economy where governments are printing money hand over fist, people want a more secure place to put their assets. In addition to prevailing economic uncertainty, many institutional investors are dipping their toes into the cryptocurrency, and even PayPal began offering customers the ability to buy Bitcoin late last year. But intertwined with Bitcoin’s more speculative potential (as an asset or currency) is an important feature many investors may miss: its power to protect human rights and stand against tyranny...
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AI Can Use the Veins on Your Hand Like Fingerprints to Identify You // ACM Technews
Researchers at the University of New South Wales have developed a technique that identifies individuals using the unique pattern of veins on the back of their hands. The researchers used 500 photos of the hands of 35 people to train a neural network to connect the pattern of veins to a particular subject. The model identified the test subjects with an accuracy rate of 99.8%, then identified four new subjects not included in the original dataset with a 96% accuracy rate...
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The 'MetaHuman Creator' Wants to Produce Digital Humans Easily // VICE
Epic Games is unleashing a new technology that will allow anyone to create photo-realistic humans on demand. It’s called MetaHuman Creator and it's the product of years of research and development by the creator of the Unreal Engine and Fortnite. The tool aims to  let anyone easily design 3D models of a human and download it, and use it in a variety of apps and programs. According to Epic Games, MetaHuman Creator is a cloud-based app. “It works by drawing from an ever-growing library of variants of human appearance and motion, and enabling you to create convincing new characters through intuitive workflows that let you sculpt and craft the result you want,”...
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Are Texas Blackouts a Warning About the Follow-on Effects of Climate Change? // SlashDot
This week in America, "continent-spanning winter storms triggered blackouts in Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and several other states," reports the New York Times. But that was just the beginning... One-third of oil production in the nation was halted. Drinking-water systems in Ohio were knocked offline. Road networks nationwide were paralyzed and vaccination efforts in 20 states were disrupted. The crisis carries a profound warning. As climate change brings more frequent and intense storms, floods, heat waves, wildfires and other extreme events, it is placing growing stress on the foundations of the country's economy: Its network of roads and railways, drinking-water systems, power plants, electrical grids, industrial waste sites and even homes...
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Why developing AI to defeat us may be humanity’s only hope // TheNextWeb
One glance at the state of things and it’s evident humanity’s evolved itself into a corner. On the one hand, we’re smart enough to create machines that learn. On the other, people are dying in Texas because elected officials want to keep the government out of Texas. Chew on that for a second. What we need is a superhero better villain...
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Samsung imagines how its first AR glasses might look in these leaked concept videos // TheVerge
Samsung has been toying with AR glasses for years, most recently trotting out an extremely basic set of image-projecting goggles on the CES 2020 stage, but I’ve never seen the company suggest it might like to build an actually ambitious augmented reality wearable computing device — until perhaps today...
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How the Internet Is Saving Gen Z in Flyover Country // Vice
Internet access has shaped Gen Z’s identity and physical location is becoming an irrelevant factor in this formation. While everyone is an audience to this digital ecosystem, Gen Z is being raised on its fibers. Media has long provided young people with aspirational content and creative inspiration, but those born after 1996 have experienced unparalleled immediate access to people and communities all over the world, in a way that requires fewer gatekeepers...
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The Social Work Health Futures Lab: Exploring the Future of Well-Being and Justice // IFTF Blog
Social workers provide most mental health services in the U.S. and operate throughout the United States in what the U.S. Department of Labor considers among the fastest growing professions in the next ten years. But what does it look like to invite an entire profession to consider whether futures thinking and foresight practice should be part of how it operates to succeed now and in the times ahead? It is just this question that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has funded to ask in a new initiative, the Social Work Health Futures Lab, to consider over the next 18 months. ..
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Scientists entered people’s dreams and got them ‘talking’ // ScienceMag
In the movie Inception, Leonardo DiCaprio enters into other people’s dreams to interact with them and steal secrets from their subconscious. Now, it seems this science fiction plot is one baby step closer to reality. For the first time, researchers have had “conversations” involving novel questions and math problems with lucid dreamers—people who are aware that they are dreaming. The findings, from four labs and 36 participants, suggest people can receive and process complex external information while sleeping. “This work challenges the foundational definitions of sleep,” says cognitive neuroscientist Benjamin Baird of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, who studies sleep and dreams but was not part of the study. Traditionally, he says, sleep has been defined as a state in which the brain is disconnected and unaware of the outside world...
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A 3D Printed House Just Went up on Zillow—for Half the Price of Its Neighbors // SingularityHub
The 3D printed houses just keep coming. Last week we covered a home being built in northern Italy, unique because it’s made entirely of natural materials and shaped like a hive. Now there’s a 3D printed home for sale in the US, unique because it’s one of the earliest examples of the technology moving from conceptual to commercial. The house is located in Riverhead, New York, an area on the north-east end of Long Island. It’s still under construction, being built by SQ4D, an offshoot of New York-based S-Squared 3D Printers. With 1,500 square feet of living space, 3 bedrooms, 2 full bathrooms, an open floor plan, and a garage all sitting on a quarter-acre lot, the home is listed on Zillow for $299,999...
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AI Can Now Learn to Manipulate Human Behavior // ScienceAlert
Artificial intelligence (AI) is learning more about how to work with (and on) humans. A recent study has shown how AI can learn to identify vulnerabilities in human habits and behaviours and use them to influence human decision-making. It may seem cliched to say AI is transforming every aspect of the way we live and work, but it's true. Various forms of AI are at work in fields as diverse as vaccine development, environmental management and office administration. And while AI does not possess human-like intelligence and emotions, its capabilities are powerful and rapidly developing...
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Factory Transformation Determines How Fast We Get the Future // NextBigFuture
How quickly will all cars and trucks become electric? How quickly will we have thousands of reusable rockets? We can see the future being developed but the speed of transformation and the speed of the next transformation depends upon how successful we are in reinventing the factory... 
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An Israeli Startup Is 3D Printing Cultured Ribeye Steaks // SingularityHub
The market for meat alternatives is booming, but so far most products are only able to replicate the formless ground meat found in burgers, sausages, and nuggets. The world’s first 3D printed steak may be set to change that, opening the door to replicating any cut of meat we want...
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Personas in foresight // Hinesight Blog
Is it just me, or has the use of personas in foresight gone quiet? We used to use them quite regularly in my consulting days in the 2000s. Below is a snapshot from part of a persona project back in 2007. Perhaps, they are used so routinely now that they are just taken for granted? I’ve been doing a review of methodology development for an upcoming book chapter, and while my research has not finished, my initial review caught only on piece by my colleague Alex Fergnani “The Future Persona.”...
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This privacy ring is like an Incognito Mode for real life // FastCompany
Me.Ring, a provocative new concept out of the design firm Argodesign. Me.Ring is basically a connected switch that you wear on your finger. When you’re open to your data being collected (from your face, your location, or just about anything else you can imagine), you switch it on. When you want to stay anonymous, you switch it off. The ring is essentially an Incognito Mode for real life, a means to opt out of your actions being recorded and analyzed forever. 
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Fun Stuff 🚀

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

Open Calls/Submissions & Cool Projects

Open Calls & Submissions

Activating Smithsonian Open Access Challenge (ASOA) from Cooper Hewitt's Interaction Lab // Deadline 2/23/21
The Activating Smithsonian Open Access Challenge (ASOA) from Cooper Hewitt’s Interaction Lab aims to support creative technology teams in designing engaging interactive experiences with Smithsonian Open Access collections for people all over the globe. Made possible by Verizon 5G Labs, this open call for proposals seeks to stimulate new ideas for inspiring digital interactions with over 3 million 2D and 3D objects in the Smithsonian’s Open Access collections, all available under a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license for download, re-use, alteration, and even commercialization. From these proposals, up to six finalists will receive $10,000 to develop their ideas into functioning prototypes to be presented and used by the public. A significant goal of the program is to identify compelling projects that the Interaction Lab might explore for wider use in the future. Creators will own all intellectual property they create in ASOA, subject to the Smithsonian’s license as set forth in the ASOA Participation Rules and Guidelines.
Learn More & Apply

Commoning The Anthropocene | Call for Abstracts // Deadline 2/26/21
We are pleased to announce our call for individual presentations, special sessions, webinar panel discussions, and methods workshops. This conference aims to bring together scholars and practitioners interested in the role that the exercise of common property systems to land use and other shared resources (commoning) will play in the Anthropocene. We will cover topics such as conceptualizing commons across multiple scales, commoning in a telecoupled (or hyper-connected) world with tipping points and deep uncertainty, new forms, and trends in global commoning, interdisciplinary methods to study new emerging commons spaces, scaling up commoning in practice, and much more.

Learn More & Submit

IMPAKT: Open Call: Full Spectrum Curatorship Programme // Deadline 3/1/21
IMPAKT invites emerging and aspiring curators with a specific interest in media art and its relationship to technology and society to apply for the Full Spectrum Curatorship Programme. Full Spectrum Curatorship is a programme from IMPAKT that aims to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and the practical and substantive aspects of curation in the field of media art and contemporary arts dealing with digital technologies and online environments. IMPAKT, as the oldest media art festival in the Netherlands, offers recent graduates and curators at the beginning of their career the opportunity to develop their own curatorial programme under expert guidance...
Learn More & Apply

Urban System Lab's Nature-Cultures: Narratives of the City Beyond Human - Call for Submissions // Deadline Rolling Basis, Publication starting March 2021
Resilience Quarterly invites submissions to our second issue Nature-Cultures, exploring new visions and narratives of cities that transcend a human perspective to embrace multispecies relationships. We are specifically interested in short stories, artworks, climate fiction (CliFi), designs, and data visualizations that examine and trouble dystopian visions of a world impacted by climate change. What can we learn from other species? What are positive visions of the Anthropocene? What does a world beyond human look and feel like? How can CliFi be a space to address issues of equity and justice?
Learn More & Submit

Prix Ars Electronica 2021 Open Call // Deadline 3/3/21
The Prix Ars Electronica is the world’s most time-honored media arts competition. Winners are awarded the coveted Golden Nica statuette, prize money ranging up to € 10,000 per category and an opportunity to showcase their talents at the famed Ars Electronica Festival in Linz. 2021 categories: Computer Animation, Artificial Intelligence & Life Art, Digital Musics & Sound Art, u19 - Create Your World.
Learn More & Submit

Cool Projects

World-Building Methods for Speculative Design and Fiction // Speculative Futures Rotterdam
A great write-up of the Postcards from the Future Live event from host Viraj Joshi! With the chapter host,  Karolina Thakker, Viraj came up with a two part event: the first half talking about what values futures-thinking in all its forms may add to our disposition as creative professionals (and as people!); and the latter half crowdsourcing and building the idea for the 31st Postcard from the Future.
Check It Out

Participation → Speculative Design (2020-) // Pedro Gilfarias
Cool project posted on Speculative Futures slack, a critical toolkit designed to explore the space of participation in speculative design. It has been created to support designers in combining these two approaches by providing a set of questions for reflection about the process. The toolkit is composed by 3 challenge cards and 37 issue cards with reflection questions about the process. You can look into the details of the toolkit by clicking on info and explore the individual issues by clicking on explore. 
Check It Out

STORIES FROM 2050 // European Commission
Another cool project posted on the Speculative Futures Slack. Stories from 2050 was contracted by the European Commission in order to create and collect together diverse future narratives of 2050. Europe is confronted with unprecedented and urgent environmental challenges that require a radical and holistic approach, not only within the European borders but also outside them. We want to explore materials outside the conventional radar on topics related to the European Green Deal to support the implementation of the Clean Planet 2050 vision. You can participate by sharing insights, or participating in their Future Rooms workshops!
Check It Out

The Opte Project | The Internet 1997 - 2021
Some people need to see to understand.  Since the Internet is an enormous amalgamation of individual networks that provide the relatively seamless communication of data, it seemed logical to draw lines from one point to another.  This project has been a 17+ year labor of love under the moniker of The Opte Project. The map has been an icon of what the Internet looks like in hundreds of books, in movies, museums, office buildings, educational discussions, and countless publications. The map has also become a teaching tool, allowing visual learners to quickly understand the Internet and networking...
Check It Out


Gaming, Shows, Books & Other Random Cool Stuff

Why Do We Call The Hardest Video Game Enemies 'Bosses,' Anyway? // Kotaku
In real life, if you encounter a large being hell-bent on beating the crap out of you, you call them “an asshole” or “a fully grown polar bear, but in my backyard, like in those nightmares I have.” In a video game, you call them “a boss.” That’s weird! Plenty of people want to fight their bosses, sure, but the term is not commonly associated with combat outside of games. To kick off our boss-focused episode, Michael Fahey takes Ash Parrish, Stephen, and me down a rabbit hole of video game boss history in an attempt to pinpoint when we started calling them that and why. Then we move into a discussion of our favorite (and least favorite) types of video game bosses, concluding that truly great boss fights tell a story...
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Online fighting games during COVID: How rollback helps us connect // ArsTechnica 
As a huge fighting-game fan I'm always excited when a new game comes out. No other genre captures my attention in the same way. The feeling of discovery, the community and competitive spirit—a good release means potentially thousands of hours of playing and learning, not to mention all the sharing and talking with fellow players...
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What I'm Reading

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

6 Black history documentaries that speak to Black present
Toussaint Egan 

Ninefox Gambit
Yoon Ha Lee

The Navy of the Future: Classics, Science-Fiction, Contractors
Ilya Kramnik

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