Sometimes a small idea you came up with and then follow up just because you’re bored on an evening can turn into something really fun. Recently I had one of those, which ended up as Bright Futures Generator, and I’m kinda surprised how much positive reaction it received.
It all started with me reading a Twitter conversation started by Scott Smith’s this meme post. While reading the replies, I first learned about how there are real people who call themselves “keynote futurists” and then saw this reply from Tim Maughan:
At first I replied with “Brb, making a generator for this one.” as a joke. But then the idea of making a real generator got stuck in my head. I don’t know enough coding to call myself a coder or a developer but just enough to find an already written code and edit it to work in the way I want.
Then after looking for different Glitch projects to remix, I found the one I can understand well enough. Then I started collecting terms to fill the generator. I should thank Gartner hype cycles and trend charts for giving me a lot of material for the project.
I think it took about couple hours in total to make everything work good enough. Finally, the Bright Futures Generator was ready for public.
Then I shared it on Twitter and it simply blew up for my Twitter standards. I was surprised mostly by the attention it received from people in or around this field, who I value their opinions and work. Something I made just because I decided to make a fun project mostly because I couldn’t focus on the work I had to do.
Another thing I enjoy about this small project is how useful it actually can be. Yes, it started as a joke and a fun little web tool but it can be quite provocative and useful with its generated sentences at times. Paris Marx’s example is a good one and I’m sure there are many others people coming up with too. I feel like it can be a good practice tool for times when you need some really wild ideas to think about or how far you can take some scenarios you’re working on.
That’s probably why while making this one I also remembered the game/generator Johannes Klingebiel made in 2019, called “Futures of Media Tarot”. Small online tools like these (or physical ones like Superflux’s Instant Archetypes) can be really useful when you need some creative provocations. I hope my Bright Futures Generator will have the same effect.
I’m planning to keep Bright Futures Generator online as long as possible and also want to keep it updated. If you have any ideas or recommendations (about the list, code or the design) feel free to comment to this post, send me an email or reach me out on Twitter.
If you’re curious about the code or want to make a remix of it yourselves, you can find it all in here. Since I made it on Glitch, all the code and materials available for everyone and can be easily modified or copied. Enjoy!
This is the sentence that’s been circling inside my head for a while now. Not that I was thinking that everything was going great so far —hell, I call the things I’m writing and thinking about “weird and deadly interesting” so no rose-tinted glasses here. But it’s clear that we took a huge step towards whatever this is. We’re walking through the territories we don’t have a map for.
But even though we don’t fully know what’s going to happen next and where we’re headed, I feel like it’s important to have a name(s) for it. Doesn’t matter if it fits or not, just to start thinking and writing and the conversation. This is why I decided to go with “new bleak”, instead of “new normal”. Because I don’t think normal is a word that can help us to describe what’s happening and what’s ahead of us. Also, I heard the term used on Turkish TV news, so it’s safe to say that it doesn’t really mean anything now.
Everything is changing, nothing what we used to call normal makes sense. Even though most of you who’ll read this were already critical about the complex system we’re inside, not many of us were expecting this. Like Laurie Penny said, this is not the apocalypse we were expecting.1 We didn’t know that a simple virus can show everyone the real face of the late capitalism and how all of our states are ready to save corporations first and ready to sacrifice everyone else for them. We didn’t know that people were ready to attack 5G towers to defeat a virus. We also didn’t know that people were so ready to organize, help each other and try to find help for people at the other side of the planet. Not a single forecast about 2020 were expecting any of these. None of us were expecting to do the things we’re doing right now.
All of this is new and definitely not normal. Normal feels like a useless word right now. Especially when you hear all the heads on TV and newspapers talking about “returning the normal” while not considering the fact that the normal they want to return so badly is the main reason we’re here right now. I know this sounds a bit like cliche but it should be said until everyone understands it.
And definitely these are bleak times. Everything is fucked, thousands of people are dying every day, almost every country is fucking things up one way or another and all of them are focused on making capitalism happy first. The worst part is they’re still in control and it feels like there’s so little we can do other than trying to survive this and help others around us to survive too. It’s natural to be pessimistic in this situation, feel like things are only going to get worse even after we get rid of the pandemic —because all the signs are telling that too.
I know it is hard to talk or even think about anything right now. I’ve been there and I still might be. But not trying makes things worse. It just builds inside our brains until it implodes. Because we’re angry right now. Angry, hurt, panicked, sad, confused… It’s natural but can get worse and harmful if we don’t let these feelings outside. We have to talk about what we’re feeling, thinking, dreaming. What we think the reason we’re in this situation and how we can solve this. It doesn’t matter if you just have a small idea or a full scheme. We have to put all of those out, see what others are thinking and start conversations about it.
We have to think about the future. What might be or should be ahead of us. Because even though this is the new bleak, to me it feels like what’s next is up for grabs. This is not to say that we should rush for the hot takes about the future. Because those are generally “made before the current situation, after all, using the ideas and categories and levers that were in place before the virus spread.”2 What we need right now is not hot takes, Twitter slogans or ready-made full future scenarios. Quoting from Johannes Kleske3:
”The only thing that any possible future scenario is good for right now, is to tell you something about the world-view, the values, and the imagination of the person publishing it. Use the insights from that analysis to design better preferable future scenarios.”
This is not to say that we shouldn’t talk about the future or think about the possible scenarios. We can but when we do, we should be critical about these and dive as deep as possible to make sure we’re not falling into any pitfalls. This is also why it can be useful to read and listen what others are saying about it, even though you hate them for reasons. Because having that insight and understanding is really useful.4
Conversation and community matters most in this situation. Not some hand-over future from people who thinks they’re above us. We need half-baked ideas, diverse perspectives, long conversations and silly memes. While everyone is relearning that we can use internet for building global communities and events —instead of satisfying the algorithm gods— we should take full advantage of it. This is a global crisis and the new bleak is effecting every part of the world in a similar but also a different way. We should use all of this to understand the current system’s complexity and how interconnected it is. Understand the ideas, logic and the ideology behind it. Understand how it works and how it failed for all of us.
There’s so much we can and should do. Yes, this is the new bleak but what comes after next depends on us. We should think about the future because even though we act like we’re already in the future, “the future needs to be constantly invented and drawn down to us.”5 This is the best time to do that.6 And this might be the best time to break the spell and even think about the end of the capitalism and the future beyond that. Why not?
This is my attempt to contribute to the conversation that’s been slowly starting about the now and the potential futures ahead of us. This is not a perfect text and I didn’t want it to be. This is the time to put our half-baked thoughts and observations outside and see what happens.
Let’s talk, build some weird futures and schemes worthy of these bleak times, form communities beyond any border or logic and see where we can go from there.
”Revolutions are dark, murky, and can be (very) slow. Living with, and through revolutions, is an act of hope.” — Anab Jain
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