Based on clusters of change drivers from the xcoax_workshop, FoAM developed five sketches of near future scenarios, in addition to the three scenarios as storyworlds created at the workshop.

Surviving turbulence through design and technology


The role of designers in technology and society is increasing, which makes the boundaries of Third Culture unclear. Exhibition spaces are moving beyond white boxes and black cubes and into living spaces of daily life. Technology, is, as always, a byproduct of politics and ideology. Although technology is becoming cheaper and more ubiquitous (including wearables), there are many unresolved issues with privacy and surveillance. We live in a technocratic culture and artificial aesthetics is permeating through arts and culture too. The Third Culture focuses on communication and care of the many distributed selves, creating collaborations between designers and technologists to help dispersed communities survive and thrive through natural disasters.

In sickness and globalised health


The world is obsessed with reproduction. On the one hand the decline in fertility in many parts of the world, on the other hand the dangers of overpopulation and lack birth control preached by several dominant religions. Europe is an aging society, and access to healthcare is weighing heavy on welfare states. For some people immortality through technological development is still the ultimate goal, for others the idea of immortality itself is aging. Access, not just to health-care, but to power as well is the topic of the era. Global capitalism is rampant, but also suffering from spreading local conflicts with global impact. The ebb and flow of turbulent economies gradually changes conditions of nation states; some clamp down on free market through government regulation, others, like many in the Middle East celebrate capitalists as gods, en par with football players of the World Cup in Qatar. The contrasts between different world-views are gradually drifting apart, and we suppose that the only way to heal the world might be through alien contact. Third culture in this case is most visible in health care, where the arts and sciences bring solace to aging and ailing populations. The less visible and more speculative area is seeking contact with alien species, or becoming more alien itself, in order to be used to bridge the ever increasing gaps in world-views and reality tunnels.

The rise of multilingual tinkerers


Our world is a melting pot of cultures, with our selves dissolving into meta-states that are sometimes difficult to contain. Identity is now officially overrated. Our tools assist us to speak multiple languages through real time translation, allowing us to be engaged in a public discourse on any topic. As we break down disciplinary boundaries, and the distinction between work and life, the frantic pace of innovative lifestyles and cultural experiments is exceeding the pace of technological development. For the first time since industrial revolution, technology can’t keep up. The fluid boundaries of language and jargon have necessitated rapid translation tech-development, which resulted in a rise of 'just-in-time', Jugaad-style innovation - not just in language technologies, but across the board. Because the 'professional' technology breaks down as often as DIY tools, everyone is getting better at being a tinkerer, prototyping what they need and sharing their findings online. The Third Culture is alive as never before, acting as a translator between highly coded scientific, artistic and technological languages and the manifold languages of daily life. It’s all quick-and-dirty, but it works, just. Children are queuing to study in Third Culture schools that train them to become virtuoso improvisers, juggling art, communication and computation while balancing on a tightrope of puberty…

Eppur si muove


If we don’t heed the warnings of IPCC and other parties warning us about the fragility of our existence, we are hurling towards extinction in a downwards spiral, fast. Refusing to radically chose for renewables, we continue to deplete the Earth’s resources and pollute the atmosphere. However, there are pockets of hope, evidence of new value systems as a contrast to the global economies of signs (aka advertising). Open (re)source cultures are gaining support, as are recycling and upcycling movements. Renewables are becoming increasingly more effective and able to be decentralised. Even the energy giants are becoming worried about loss of profits as more and more households pump energy back into their grids. Transport - both of goods and people - can become more sustainable, if only technological innovation and take-up was allowed to be prioritised over lobbying of near—obsolete industries. The inhabitants of the Third Culture are losing patience and are working on a plan B: getting together the knowledge, people and materials to create self-sustaining generational starships, that might take some of us off the troubled and ocean-soaked Earth's crust, through the polluted atmosphere and into the uncharted territories of the surrounding universe. Not to escape, but to be a living example of how things could be otherwise. Tests have already been underway for a while at NASA since early teens, whose test missions (in remote parts of the Earth) did not discriminate between artists and scientists and instead saw them as complementary and necessary team-mates. The Third Culture starships are used for exploration and as living Labs, ultimate off-the-grid habitats - it is a Third Culture between eco-survivalist and techno-utopian lifestyles.

Beyond Chapel Perilous


The war on drugs is out of control, but ultimately un-winnable. As one drug is suppressed, another can be discovered. It is common knowledge that this isn’t so much a war on drugs, but a war on alternate states of consciousness, a threat to the status-quo. However, it is the prerogative and an almost compulsive need of young people to question and rebel against the status-quo (and by young we mean young at heart). So as the war on drugs rages on substances like heroin or hash, they are ignoring the subtle cultural and aesthetic shifts to seek alternate states through other means. Some people experience them through body modifications and post-humanist cyborg extensions (highly designed and aestheticised), allowing them to move beyond the internet of things and towards the internet of bodies. The mediated experiences that were once engaging eyes and ears only (and the parts of the brain associated with seeing and hearing) have penetrated the body and now stimulate all senses and even some organs. There is a productive tension between the body-mod post-humanists and the psychedelic explorers. The latter believe that nature can be found within and that whatever we ingest will be received by our inner nature and deal with it as it must - whether sustaining us through nourishment, providing a psycho-active experiences, or poisoning us for its own reasons. In between these two cultures is the third, that induces alternate states are possible through the use of software and holography. They believe that we do not need to torture our bodies to expand our consciousness. Instead, they inject digital technologies in the spaces that surround us, creating visceral holographic illusions that alter our perceptions of space and time, thereby gently reprogramming our experience of reality. The Third Culture borrows and absorbs elements of both trans-humanists and psychedelic naturalists and makes them palatable to all levels of society. They have began gaining influence, receiving increasing amounts of funding and even showcasing benefits of open education in alternate states of consciousness Over time it is believed that it is the Third Culture that will extinguish the war on drugs and usher us all across the Chapel Perilous of Wilson and Leary’s eight circuits of consciousness.


  • future_fabulators/xcoax_near_future.txt
  • Last modified: 2014-06-26 22:57
  • by maja