You’re Still Not Reading Enough Sci Fi, Pt. 6

We’re at the final instalment of this week-long exploration of how science fiction and fantasy can help your community, company, or institution think about the world to come.

Get Curious, Get Weird
 
A lot of well-meaning institutions, programmes, and forces trying to prepare us for social and technological change are currently trying to push a “coding and robotics” agenda.

That’s great, and indeed, familiarity with digital technology will be vital in the future – but I wonder if skills and strict curricula are all we need right now. Maybe this isn’t a skills gap to be solved by education, but a community engagement issue: we should be helping our citizens to gird themselves for weird social change.

It already looks like scientific curiosity could be more valuable than scientific knowledge in making decisions which respect evidence. Maybe reading sci-fi to provoke our curiosity is as useful to our understanding of the changing world as any specific technical or organisational know-how.

You can see how this might be applied in practical terms through the work of Sean Justice which treats digital technology as an art material to be explored like paint or clay; or in the work of Mal Booth at University of Technology Sydney, supporting artists and designers to usefully augment serendipity in the digital library experience.

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Sean Justice showed me how to play with code as if it were clay,
as in this activity

Getting curious might involve the simple pen-and-paper futurism of the workshops we ran in Bundaberg on behalf of Queensland University of Technology. There, we helped regional writers – all women, as it happened, and not all sci-fi fans – to express their anxieties, hopes, and visions of the future on a thousand-year timeline.

So there’s a patchy old reading list for you – but maybe being patchy and messy is good, when you’re striking out in open water, looking for new fantasies, new visions, new speculations.

Dip your toe in the waters of this genre – then wade in, swim in whatever direction takes your fancy…and bring back some new stories for us to consider.

You’ll have a grand old time, but don’t forget – future dreaming is serious business.

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