“The idea that we live life in a straight line, like a story, seems to me to be increasingly absurd and, more than anything, a kind of intellectual convenience […] I feel that the events in our lives are like a series of bells being struck and the vibrations spread outwards, affecting everything, our present, and our futures, of course, but our past as well. Everything is changing and vibrating and in flux.”
Posts tagged narrative
So, while flatpack futures attempt to deliver a whole world, system or universe embedded in one short vignette, lossy futures — be they artifacts, simple scenarios, wireframes of speculation, rich prompts, brief vignettes or some other material object — give us the scaffolding and ask or allow us to determine the details ourselves. In doing so, they transmit the critical data, the minimum viable future, and give us the opportunity to fill in the gaps we think are important to understanding, or have a dialogue around what these gaps may mean. The irony here is that flatpack futures are often high fidelity productions, complex, if flawed, narratives. They are beautiful renderings, but submerge engineering, social, business model, ethical or spiritual problems in favor of presenting a glossy face. Lossy futures are lo-fi, and intentionally omit detail as a feature, not a bug.
Weaponized narrative seeks to undermine an opponent’s civilization, identity, and will by generating complexity, confusion, and political and social schisms. It can be used tactically, as part of explicit military or geopolitical conflict; or strategically, as a way to reduce, neutralize, and defeat a civilization, state, or organization. Done well, it limits or even eliminates the need for armed force to achieve political and military aims. The efforts to muscle into the affairs of the American presidency, Brexit, the Ukraine, the Baltics, and NATO reflect a shift to a “post-factual” political and cultural environment that is vulnerable to weaponized narrative.
Many disputes reflect differences in how people think as much as in what they think about a particular issue. We can’t always persuade one another simply by expressing our positions, introducing information, and counting “pros” and “cons.” Instead, our disagreements often start upstream, so to speak, as we and others diverge in which modes of thinking we consider legitimate. Frameworks for understanding these modes can help us to translate between them, the “story thought” vs. “system thought” framework.
There are two different angles at play in the discussion about colonialism and science. First is what constitutes scientific epistemology and what its origins are. As a physicist, I was taught that physics began with the Greeks and later Europeans inherited their ideas and expanded on them. In this narrative, people of African descent and others are now relative newcomers to science, and questions of inclusion and diversity in science are related back to “bringing science to underrepresented minority and people of color communities.” The problem with this narrative is that it isn’t true. For example, many of those “Greeks” were actually Egyptians and Mesopotamians under Greek rule. So, even though for the last 500 years or so science has largely been developed by Europeans, the roots of its methodology and epistemology are not European. Science, as scientists understand it, is not fundamentally European in origin. This complicates both racist narratives about people of color and innovation as well as discourse around whether science is fundamentally wedded to Euro-American operating principles of colonialism, imperialism and domination for the purpose of resource extraction.
The user continued to post about topics including Vietnam, Elizabeth Bathory, the Treblinka concentration camp, humpback whales, the Manson Family and LSD, but especially about the inexplicable “flesh interfaces”, being built somehow by shadowy programmes. A Reddit user might chance upon a single one of these posts in one of their ordinary discussion threads, but clicking on the username of _9MOTHER9HORSE9EYES9 would let you view all their posts in aggregate, and there, a compelling science-fiction horror story was beginning to emerge, gradually more beautifully and boldly written from multiple narrative perspectives, but with a common mystery.
we’ve always said that games are more like cathedrals than they are like movies. It’s a narrative environment, an environment that immerses you in a story, in a time. It’s a time machine. It’s made over hundreds of years.
Since the first stirrings of the Nieman Foundation’s narrative writing program nearly 20 years ago, the staff has tended a treasure trove of resource material devoted to excellence in journalistic storytelling. Much of that material went online first via the Nieman Narrative Digest and, in 2009, here at Nieman Storyboard. Storyboard 75 represents some of the most popular posts* from our archive so far.
To the problem of narrative collapse, Rushkoff suggests that young people have reacted to the loss of storytellers by realizing they have to become the storyteller. The gamer can write his own next level. We can be fragmented by allowing ourselves to operate on the (non-temporal) time scale of computers or we can program our computers to keep us in sync with our own goals and our own lives. Technology is, in fact, neutral. It doesn’t “want” things to be a certain way. But all technologies are ste up by people with certain biases, but those biases are often unclear until they play out in the real world. So civilians do have an opportunity to intervene in technologies that they dont’t fully understand because they do have the capacity to understand the impact of those technologies on their lives.