A World in Which | Jamais Cascio

Jamais Cascio; A World in Which; In His Blog entitled Open The Future; 2016?

The piece is the full text of a talk


Why do we think about the future?

  • Because we cancould.
    <snide>Institute for Idle Curiosity About Tomorrow</snide>.
  • The future because
    • that the future matters
    • that we still have a say in the future we get
  • Think of the future in generational terms, not just as a count of years.
  • The Study of the future
    The “study” of the future is foresight.

    • to act appropriately, to act responsibly
    • for prudence
  • It is cultural anthropology
    • history
    • economics <ahem>which is a religion</quote>
  • Who listens to these stories?
    • <quote>[NOT] academic cabals that communicate through peer-reviewed journals and passive-aggressive blog posts. </quote>
    • folks whom might not know <quote>The future is a journey, not a destination.</quote>
    • Therefore
      • Be a storytellers so they will listen & buy.
      • Narrative, renarrative.
      • anticipatory history.
      • depictions of change, via story.
    • [there exists a plurality of] foresight practitioners who dislike the storytelling trope, because storytelling seems too unserious. AND THIS IS SERIOUS.


  • Joseph Campbell
  • <quote>We use a narrative of the imaginary to explain the deep structure of the world.</quote> The parable system.
  • Fancy
    • “strategic wind-tunneling”
    • “contingency analysis”
    • “preference-agnostic outcome projection”
  • Foresight scenarios
    • are myth-making
    • are explicit stories of how the world works.

The Incantation

This is a world in which…

  • The blatant introduction
  • The futurist’s version of once upon a time.
  • All assumptions about the way of things come under scrutiny.
    • What do I want this world to be?
    • How does this future differ from the here and now?
    • What is the story of this new reality?

Scenarios ~ Science Fiction

Similar work product, but distinct mindset & accents.

  • use characters to highlight world structure
  • packed tight in the limited space
  • multiple story lines
Science Fiction
  • uses world structure to advance character development.
  • sparse detail
  • as much space as the audience has time for; trilogy? serialized saga?
  • single story line, by definition.


  • Useful foresight scenarios need to be about people, our desires and our fears.
  • Technologies are fundamentally cultural artifacts
  • Technologies’creation and use are manifestations of [the] values, beliefs, and intentions of their [owners, developers, a.k.a. their creators].
  • These need to be stories of how we live our lives, not just a catalog of inventions lightly sprinkled with global events.
  • They should ask us, how do we grapple with the challenges presented to us by a world in which?
  • Scenarios should seem to be either utopian or dystopian.


  • the scientism <quote>part of the brain that lights up when</quote>
  • <aphorism>skate to where the puck will be</aphorism> attributed to Wayne Gretzky.
  • “the past is a foreign country,” attributed to LP Hartley.
  • “the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet,” William Gibson.


  • William Gibson.
  • Wayne Gretzky.
  • Leslie Poles Hartley, 1895-12-30→1972-12-13; Jimi Wales’ Wiki

Work Product

Body Area Networks

  1. Papers, Please
  2. X-Ray Vision
  3. Memory

Body Area Networks are commonplace and diverse, but with different rules and affordances in different parts of the world.

  • Can privacy be possible here?
  • Can you ever be alone in this world?
  • What risks might you run seeking to be by yourself?

Papers, Please

  • Republic of Scotland
  • wristbands
  • “back in the day” was the Age of Anonymous.

A trip abroad is explained:

  • arrival with external passports,
  • sightseeing internal passports,
  • health care emergency is sketched,
  • a return to home and safety is completed.
  • self-protection
  • with encryption
  • system monitors
  • component isolation

Connection, determinism: technologies are built to be connected.

  • Who owns that connection?
    Who controls the off switch?

X-Ray Vision

  • sociental-level
  • body-area networks are called “selfies”
    <quote>Although the information is private, it may still be accessible by families, by governments, or by the device manufacturers</quote> (anyone but you, anyone but the person sitting next to you?)
  • Earthquake swarm of on the Hayward Fault in 2024.
  • Demonstrations, Sao Paolo, 2038-04.



Is it possible that the best outcome might be if nobody controls the off switch?


  • Personal Area Network Devices and Accessories — PANDAs
  • Like a FitBit, but more so.
  • Girlfriend Isabella — “Izzy.”
  • Shared feelings across telecom.
  • She dies in a car.

Connection (love)

  • What if?
  • Would you get rid of it?

The sibling who holds the featurephone that contains the last SMS being typed when she crashed into the car in front of her. [cite?]

Previously filled.

Comments are closed.