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Plotting the Polycrisis: Post-Collapse Storytelling
ANNOUNCING: an all-new presentation and workshop is heading to SXSW 2024
It’s official: Leah Zaidi and I are heading back to SXSW 2024. In 2023, we were invited to debut our collaborative report, SIMULATING THE FUTURE, which is available for free here.
I’ve been lucky to work with Leah since 2021. Her Strategic Worldbuilding approach, as well as other methodologies including dark futures and minimum-specification for future proofing, have been incredibly informative in my own work. In addition to [redacted client work], in the past two years we’ve produced two reports together, which use the metaverse as a jumping-off point for scenario-building—but which range in content from the future of music to mysticism to geopolitical strife.
This year we wanted to do something different.
It grew out of a number of conversations surrounding collapse—a general sense that much of what we take for granted about modern society is heading off the rails. Many refer to this set of interconnected crises as the “polycrisis.” (A smaller but vocal contingent of sensemakers refer to it as the “metacrisis” and claim a slightly different meaning). The polycrisis frames our many seemingly disparate crises through the lens of systems thinking; they are interconnected, and attempts to address them will need to factor for this interconnection.
Spurred in no small part by what we saw as a pretty significant missed opportunity in Apple TV’s Extrapoloations, we realized that instead of producing a report this year, we wanted to engage directly with storytellers, who we believe play a critical role in helping shape public discourse (which in turn can shape policy, economics, and more).
Thus, “Plotting the Polycrisis” was born. It will be a hybrid presentation-facilitation in the “Creating Film & TV” track. Here’s a teaser:
Dystopias and apocalyptic stories dominate our images of the future. The world is experiencing a polycrisis—simultaneous catastrophic events that catalyze each other like climate chaos, the fall of democracy, and rampant inequality.
Stories play a critical role in influencing our behavior, shaping society, and creating real world change. For storytellers, the polycrisis presents an opportunity to look beyond dystopias to new narratives. This workshop will help storytellers strategically imagine new genres to influence reality for the better and prepare for the challenges that lie ahead.
Here’s the official link for the session. If that all sounds cheery enough for you, “Favorite” it so it shows up in your calendar. Looking forward to seeing you in Austin!
While you’re here, check out the latest episode of the Reality Studies podcast with award-winning artist Lia Halloran and Nobel Prize-winning physicist Kip Thorne:
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