The futures of agency
Exploring the liminal spaces between action and responsibility

The Future of the Future: New frameworks for new visioning tools

Technologies are tools, and our tools move us towards the futures they shape along the way. As reflections and extensions of the cultural context for which they were developed, tools tend to reify the ideologies of their inventors and wielders. The techno-colonization of our current era propagates visions of the future filled with sleek, cutting-edge devices funded by venture capital and incentivized by shareholder returns. These tools and their mechanisms fuel a craving for novelty, purchase-power, and profiteering; they seed the notion that true progress is only made by traversing through a Western model of industrialization, often at the expense of both human and environmental well-being. The words of feminist activist Aubrey Lorde ring loudly: the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house (2003). To arrive at new tools, we need new frameworks. If the predominantly positivist and technocentric narratives of progress result in blinkered future visions, then a wide array of non-Western and Indigenous epistemologies could speak of vibrant alternatives. If the “interpretative relation to our world is always partial, culturally framed and linguistically restricted” (Fry, 2020) then we must expand our field of view by nurturing new interpretations, new cultures, and new language. Here we discuss examples that expand possible definitions of past, present, and future technology through alternative frameworks: (1) projecting the past by propagating rather than disqualifying ancient vernacular technologies, (2) rethinking the present inspired by a rewritten/speculative past, and (3) co-creating the future using collective knowledge constituted of culturally distinct ways of knowing.

Designer & Writer