National Futures

Calendar accelerationism. The first time I've really looked up in 2017 and it's March. And we're alre
Changeist
National Futures
By Changeist • Issue #28
Calendar accelerationism. The first time I’ve really looked up in 2017 and it’s March. And we’re already planning for September. As recapped below, so far this year we’ve been in New York, Brussels, Dubai, various parts of Malta, and London. Not to mention work at our various bases in Noord Holland, Manchester, and Toronto. It’s been a furious few months, and since futures is a long fuse, we aren’t likely to see the impacts for a while. 
National futures are increasingly a topic of interest for the Changeist ensemble and fellow travelers—from the future(s) diverted by Trump’s America to the constantly shifting frame of post-Brexit Europe, to encoded national identities, to new futures being forged in optimistic, fast-moving countries. We’ve rolled some up here. 
On this last topic, the biggest piece is one we are now actually able to talk about—our collaboration with the Dubai Future Foundation and Dubai Future Academy to create and launch a Future Design diploma programme for this ambitious new venture. When the Foundation asked us to help equip senior professionals in UAE government and related entities to architect, design and enable new futures to improve quality of life and innovation in Dubai and beyond, we openly accepted the challenge. Given the current moment there, in the Gulf region, the broader Middle East and the world beyond, the opportunity to explore new cultural lenses on futures—particularly the experiential variety—and bring tools to mix structured insights and creativity to new futures was too intriguing to pass up. 
Looking back at the experience of our first January session, it was a good decision. Participants were engaged, curious, thoughtful, ingenious in the concepts they developed for final projects, and, importantly, had a sense of humor as well as a seriousness about the possible futures we face. The presence of colleague Madeline Ashby for one week of the programme gave it an extra spark. Big thanks to Dr. Noah Raford, Jessica Bland, Maha Al Mezaina and the great Foundation team for making the whole programme happen, and run so smoothly.
Wielding experiential futures as a speculative strategy, policy, product or service development tool is a pretty new approach (described well here in this recent work by Superflux, also in the UAE).  It requires turning from the day-to-day analytical skillset to call on a more creative, open, “scenaric,” way of thinking and doing—taking a bit of grounded research, mixed with sometimes faint signals, and using imagination to pull them down plausible pathways that can open up new understanding, or bring others face to face with a future materialized. One needs to be able to switch from evidence to experience, and judge how much of which is necessary for a particular speculation. 
We are understanding more about it as we go—in particular, how different cultural contexts change the mix of tools and approaches needed. A normative future in Dubai is likely to be extraordinary somewhere else. Each setting, and each context, calls for a new mixture. We’ll report back as we find out. 
I depart shortly for the next session, joined by new guest lecturers and expert interventions. Watch the Twitter feed and Instagram for glimpses of the experience. 

How to Future
Hello. We’re running 1- and 2-day How to Future workshops on demand. Through hands-on activities, we provide a starting point in signal scanning, mapping patterns, unpacking implications, building quick scenarios and communicating futures through prototyping. We’ve recently run some lovely workshops and have more coming up—for contexts ranging from government to design education and more. Drop us an email or give us a call to discuss how we can customize a workshop for you.
On The Agenda
There is a lot to recap since our last newsletter in December. Here goes.
Over the Christmas break, I spoke with Christopher Mims of the Wall Street Journal about how the role of futurist is no longer confined to the highly credentialed. A highly uncertain world means more people are having to—and want to—deploy the the tools of futures in more agile ways. Nice hat tip to our How to Future workshops inside.
www.wsj.com  •  Share
Designing Dubai’s Futures – Phase Change – Medium
I recapped our first installment of the Future Design course at the Dubai Future Academy. 
medium.com  •  Share
The Internet of Very Bad, No Good Things – Thingclash – Medium
Susan ran an invitation-only Thingclash workshop at A/D/O in Brooklyn, tweaking the workshop design to highlight the possibilities created by increased state/non-state intrusion into the IoT.
Natalie Kane chronicled our 3-day workshop on post-citizenship futures recently run in Malta. 
medium.com  •  Share
Impressions of a common future with Time's Up in Malta.
Impressions of a common future with Time's Up in Malta.
Soft Power / Hard Meme
Natalie looked at Russian meme warfare for an exhibition at the Photographer’s Gallery.
Get to know Canada Reads author Madeline Ashby | CBC Books | CBC Radio
More on colleague Madeline Ashby’s COMPANY TOWN reaching the Canada Reads shortlist. 
Thingclash @ UX London 2017
Susan and Nat will be running another special edition of Thingclash, coming up May 28 at UX London. Get in now, before the workshop fills up.
The Network
The National Algorithm
Sjef van Gaalen’s new project, The National Algorithm, explores formulas of obscuration, and how they connect to national identity. Follow the project on Twitter @nation_algo to keep up with progress and events.
Speculative and Critical Design Summer School - London College of Communication - UAL
Friends Tobias Revell and Ben Stopher are running another summer school at London’s LCC. Last year’s session looked great, this year’s likely to be even better.
World of Concrete: Inside the Industry That's Building Trump's America Brick by Brick - The Atlantic
Georgina Voss, my esteemed co-author for this piece on Trumpian futures in The Atlantic, has dropped another, on that least appreciated infrastructural condiment: concrete.
Barcelona-based critical futurist Elisabet Rosello gives her take on the role of futures in culture in ongoing installments (in Spanish).
Ping
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Teams discuss scenarios emerging from Dubai's possible futures.
Teams discuss scenarios emerging from Dubai's possible futures.
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