Earth Stations

New year, new formats, new frontiers

Welcome to 2019. It’s possible that during 2018, you had moments when you didn’t think you would hear those words, but we’re here and we’re sticking with it for now. We wish you patience, fortitude and determination for the coming year.

If you have been a consumer of this newsletter over the past few years, you’ll notice a few things look different around here. First, you received a newsletter, which makes up for the extended breaks our just-in-time schedule imposed on us these past months. :)

Second, a more stripped-down design. As part of a year-end review of tools and platforms, we decided to switch newsletter hosting to Substack from Revue. We love the folks at Revue—in fact they’re just down the train line from us in lovely Utrecht— but some of the functionality we signed on has become less important for us. We’ll give this a go. 

This also means your subscription data has been ported over. If you have objections to this, please feel free to unsubscribe. We’ll miss you, and we’ve taken great care of your email, but do as you must. If you know Substack as a paid subscription-based newsletter platform, don’t fret. We’re not going to charge.

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Enough of the technical announcements, and on with the actual show.

Miles

The last few months of 2018 were a bit of a shiny streak with visits to various seashores, taking us (collectively) to California (x2), Colorado, Paris, Dubai, London, Tallinn, Helsinki, and a few stops in between. It was great to meet folks at the launch of Plurality University in Paris, give the closing keynote PRIMER EU, as well as get fly-through tours of central Tallinn (thanks Marko!), Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena (cheers, David!) and Venice Beach’s best bakeries (hat tip to Julian!).

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Sounds

One of the most enjoyable parts of the job for us is speaking in public. For many, that’s terrifying, but for us, it’s a chance to air out issues we’ve been thinking about for a while alone or on Slack. Most fun is when we get to do that in pairs. Earlier in 2018, Madeline and I had the opportunity to talk to about a thousand curious faces from ASOS in a lovely bespoke theatre with proper Michael Mann-style light tubes. We spent about two hours, covered six panoramic topics, and had a very good time. We’ve sat on tall chairs in a live session in Dubai, co-keynoted a media conference, and recently were enticed with two comfortable seats and mics by Comcast on a visit with them in Denver. And when we have the opportunity, we lecture together, which inevitably turns into a bit of a show despite our attempted composure. So we asked ourselves, why not do it more often?

We have, and we are. As you may have caught on Twitter, we’re launching a new podcast, Underfutures, in 2019. Underfutures is place for us to dig into some of the topics that become fixations inside the office and on the group Slack, but don’t often get aired outside the confines of Changeist. Episodes will be both studio-based (between Amsterdam and Toronto) and recorded on the road. Sometimes we’ll have guests. If you use the podcast app Anchor, you can even leave us voice messages, which we may include in future episodes.

Episode 1, on the Future of Citizenship, is hosted on Anchor here.

  • For Soundclouders, you can follow here.

  • Spotify folks can listen here.

  • Apple Podcast hosts us here.

  • Other platforms are available…just search “Underfutures” on your favourite podcast service or app.

We’re also on Twitter @underfutures if you wish to keep up to date and chat with us there. We appreciate the 200+ people who jumped into the tweet stream on the strength of a trailer alone. That’s trust.

Have a listen, talk back to us, and most of all, enjoy. We hope you will. Episode 2 is now in the writers room and will be with you in early February, featuring a special guest and discussion of the future in popular culture. Pre-order your popcorn now.

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Sights

Another thing we’ve enjoyed over the past few years is engaging great young illustrators to bring an extra dimension to our work. For two recent collaborations we connected with Melbourne native Janelle Barone, whose great use of colour and general aesthetic brought these projects to life with compelling visualisations of some unusual scenarios. As large full colour prints on the day, they grabbed the audience and brought them into the mood of each scenario. We’re sharing some of the commissioned illustrations below.

Also check out Janelle’s recent project The Bottom Line, created to draw attention to—and raise money to mitigate—damage to The Great Barrier Reef.

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Words

Madeline's been busy this year. Aside from the dark tasks we've engaged her in, her well received short story, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, was published in Slate, followed by publication of TIERRA Y LIBERTAD in MIT Technology Review.

Her third major story of 2018, DEATH ON MARS, created for NASA, was recently republished in science fiction anthology Clarkesworld. That story also appears in this anthology for Arizona State’s Centre for Science and the Imagination.

Her contribution to THE END OF TRUST, a compilation developed by the Electronic Freedom Foundation and published by McSweeney's, is available here. That item also features thoughts from folks like Cory Doctorow, Julia Angwin, Trevor Paglen, Gabriella Coleman and others.

Lastly, FoC Sjef van Gaalen published a bit of microfic for this limited edition poster, sadly out of circulation already.

Coming Up

We’re already back on the tarmac in January, and already have some events lining up for the spring. Aside from a couple of rotations through Dubai to carry on with our Strategic Foresight courses at Dubai Future Academy, we’ll be workshopping in Milan later this month, and I travel to Odense, DK on 28 February talking to Technology Denmark talking about Things You Need to Know From the Future. 

Also upcoming is MRSA Impact 2019 on 12-13 March in London. I’ll have the great fun of being on a panel to talk about useful forms of scenarios, speculative narratives and material artefacts for understanding the future, with the brilliant trio of Jay Owens, Anab Jain and Paul Graham Raven. It promises to be a great session.

Check changeist.com for more info on upcoming talks. 

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That’s all for this edition. If you want to follow the discussion, find us on Twitter, Instagram, Medium, or the original formula Web.

-Scott