Musings on designing experiences & (re)engineering complexity

Apr 2021

From A Future 2021 (#FaF21): Discussions and Discovery on Protopian Themes

muse noteboard of From A Future 2021 Conference

Excited to have participated once again with the From A Future discussion/conference. An extremely multi-medium conference, it happens physically in Hong Kong, but virtually globally. Which is good. Avanceé is based in the USA, on the East Coast, a clear 12 hours behind the physical attendees. This lends itself to a unique dynamic - all attendees have to maintain a cross-connect of awareness to what’s happening both in space and cyberspace.

One could admit to some bias in this year’s discussion. The topic - protopia (inclusive, interactive, culture affirming vision of futures shaped by non-white, non-Western/capitalist perspectives) - is one part some of the genesis of Avanceé. Truly, there have been many branches sparked by keynote speaker Monika Bielskyte which have landed here thru discussions, experiments, and projects. Yet still, this bias isn’t a wrong one. One should be looking to a valuing the view of and creation towards futures which are neither dystopian (worst possible for all) or utopian (best possible for an exclusive few). From A Future presented a canvas to navigate several lanes of protopian lessons, all of which are valuable beyond simply having intellectual conversations.

The canvas #FaF21 offered was indeed quite wide and deep. From an engaging and empathy-building discussion by Jeff Rottmeyer of Impact HK, to Joshua Davies impressive use of mmhmm and Otter to orient the group to the matrix of conversational intent vs performance, the early discussion might have felt more grounding w/n oneself than a vision of a future self. Next discussions on education (or learning vs education vs…), the elements of and decisions sustainable movements cause, and a topic of aliens (missed by this participant, sleep did call) continued to shape the conference’s intention to not just converse about wanted futures, but drive participants to consider their roles within it.

The continum given by Jon Alex’s topic of understanding citizenship as the age after capitalism, into Bielskyte’s keynote to which I (Antoine) was invited to share the stage and discuss lessons, frameworks, implications of protopia could be perceived as both fulfilling and challenging. There’s a difficulty in finding one’s place, while also shaping this space. Writing this as Brandy’s cover of the Sounds of Blackness hit Optimistic plays, this song is exactly what one cannot help but to contemplate and feel after both of those discussion concluded.

Several hours, and many presenters, later awoke in time to hear David Goldsmith reshape everyone’s perception of “being outside of the box.” There is no box, there is just you and your curiosity or willingness to expand. And then Avanceé/Antoine gave a small demo of spatial connectivity in tech and notes thru sharing #FaF21 notes and concepts created within Muse. Wild how Goldsmith and Avanceé presentations synced, maybe it was due to sitting in the same time zone, and being opening to the intuitiveness and wisdom granted by sharing this physical/online space.

Unfortunately, cannot speak to the day two activities of building/modeling protopian concepts. Surely, if any attendees are on Mico.Blog or Twitter, replies can capture the bounty offered in those design thinking-like activities. From the group chat, it seems like it was an amazing and worthwhile experience.

There is not likely to be a recording available. Unfortunately, the conference was Zoom-bombed and while there is a recording before and after, am not sure that it will not be for a while if it’s posted as the post-production to knit two recordings, and pull off an overall piece able to be shared. It might make for a better route for folks to visit Posit Place and follow the meetups and discussions thru their various social channels (IG, Discord, Twitter, Clubhouse, etc.). There is a Twitter list, with some of the attendees/speakers a part of it for following as well.

And about this… well, there’s notes. Appended here is the Muse board spoken of earlier. There’s almost enough there to connect with folks. Beyond that, well, perhaps there’s another shape to connectivity beyond physical and virtual (zoom) which might be in one’s imagination which layers conversations like those found here. Perhaps even, some of those conversations turn into art, entertainment, tools, policies, and other building blocks for the kind of future which is better suited to be authored by those voices currently finding their legs.

Can you imagine answers which have never been? Can you take a step towards the you which has been awaiting to be unveiled? Are you a consumer of this age, or a citizen of the next? What future voices are you enabling, disabling, creating? What protopias are you authoring, or setting the stage for others to build? From this future to the next… what are you a part of?