A journey to the imperfect future.

This article is a written (and hyperlinked) version of a Pecha Kucha talk I gave last May at the Design Museum of Barcelona. 20 slides x 20 seconds, now 20+ paragraphs. Enjoy!

Intro from ‘Bombay’ x El Guincho videoclip inspired by the famous COSMOS opening.

We are going to travel to the imperfect future in the next 360 seconds. It is the same time we would need to walk from here (Disseny Hub) to the Agbar Tower according to Google.

Time/Space via Google Maps.

It seems a small time but it is important if we have in mind that this year, me and other humans born in 1982, will celebrate our first billion seconds in the planet.

The journey begins in Bogotá, in the year 2008. It is a friday and I am eating in a good, nice and cheap japanese restaurant called Wabi-Sabi. I feel quite curious so I google it. Top result is a Wikipedia entry that says:

“wabi-sabi: beauty that is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete”.

Inspired by this concept, I quit my job and join my partner Lucy, who is my wife, my muse and sidekick, to create wabi-sabi lab where we explore the future. From the (cultural) curiosity of a fortune teller miracle fish to the intentions to predict it using a genetic test.

But the big question is, can the future be predicted?

In 1982 Alan Kay, the genius behind Atari, said “the best way to predict the future is to invent it”, but we believe than in the internet era the best way to predict the future is to google it, because access is the essence of internet culture.

Speed · Hack · Remix

There are three words that we like to use to define the internet culture. Speed, Hack (from the hacker culture, not the “Hollywood hackers”) which is defined by problem-solving, collaboration and sharing with freedom and then of course Remix.

Because in this journey to the imperfect future the chronological age is not a limit. In the audience we have Phil, a british entrepreneur who created + + (másmás), an inspiring space for youngsters in Castelldefels. In the photo below he is with his youngest client (80 yr old) and here we have Pam Boschma, creative director of *Bliep, a dutch mobile operator managed by 15-19 yr old people.

Left: Phil Kersley-Baker, founder of ++ (másmás) with his youngest client “The Pirate” (RIP)
Top right: Ruth Flowers aka. DJ Mamy Rock (RIP) playing in the first anniversary of *Bliep.
Bottom right: Pam Boschma, 19 yr. old creative director of *Bliep
Photo source: Facebook.

We were taught to… (time is shit) …

The famous Bruce Lee quote: “Be Water My Friend”

“Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup, you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle, you put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend”.

(I used Google Translate spanish voice during the talk to read the quote.)

Gif by Nicolas Sassoon

This slide should be 20 seconds of silence but since I ran out of the time, I will read the previous one...

… because in this journey to the imperfect future, the chronological age is not a limit and the educational system is cutting our freedom because it is the reason it was designed for.

That is why our generation has a challenge: to invent the new education and the first challenge is to unlearn, that is the reason Bruce Lee is here.

We now have less than 180 seconds left in this journey. It is time to think about the changes that the access to high-speed internet is causing. Have you ever think about internet as a time machine? What if past, present and future coexist?

Past Present Future. (2011) neon work by the Paris-based collective Claire Fontaine.

Now we travel back in time to the year 1992. With a great effort my father bought my first computer, a second-hand Atari built in 1985. Meanwhile at CERN, the World Wide Web was invented. An invention that 21 years later helped me found a scene of “Risky Business”

“Every now and then say WTF. WTF gives you freedom. Freedom brings opportunity. Opportunity makes your future”
For more stories subscribe to #WhatTheFuture

Inspired by this video, since last august each friday we pick seven questions hyperlinked to random stories about the future. One example is “Should we worry about the roboethics of robotic bees?” which is linked to a global initiative of open-source robotics and a research project in Harvard.

Talking about bees, for the last years (well actually last months) we have been obsessed with the collective intelligence of bees, ants and even of plants. We are exploring the connections with the human collective intelligence, for example the open-source development model.

Give us a Poem (2007). Glenn Ligon

What matters is that for the first time as a specie, billions of human beings are connected in real-time. Let’s don’t forget about it.

Brian Eno in the 70s.

So Brian Eno. Why is Brian Eno here? Well a few years ago Brian Eno coined the term Scenius, which stands for the communal concept of genius. And it is just what we are starting to study with a project called iF, imperfect future.

The imperfect future feeds from randomness, curiosity and chaos.

Where do we find chaos?

We find it in cities such as my hometown Bogotá or even in Barcelona. What is happening in these cities? Scenius with a huge creative potential are being cultivated.

They seem invisible because we are obsessed with Silicon Valley and we think that the internet revolution is only Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp… but that is not completely true.

What just a few know is that just an hour away by car from this place, there is a post-capitalist eco-industrial commune where a group of people, connected with London and Austin, are creating a way to set Bitcoin free.

Because Bitcoin, beyond being a decentralized cryptocurrency is a protocol that can change the world.

And we finish this journey to the imperfect future with Carl Sagan, who was also present in the beginning of it. In 2 billion seconds, equivalent to 62 years, through a brilliant media and scientific career, Sagan made millions of people, us included, use imagination and critical thinking with total and absolute freedom.

Disseny Hub, Barcelona. May 23rd, 2014.