Aubrey Yee, John Sweeney and Gaming with the Future(s)

Gaming with the Future(s) is one of the most interesting research projects I’ve come across in a long time. The research will involve an “experiential scenario-based game”  in which players will weave their way through the streets of Honolulu engaging in four alternative futures. The research is fundamentally about power, and in this to understand “how communication technology impacts power relations in four alternative futures” and to “integrate Futures thinking into popular and public discourses on power, technology, and social change.”

This is a crucial endeavor, as communication technologies in our maturing network era, are anything but neutral, rather they are instruments of values, expressing great tensions, ambiguity and indeterminacy. On the economic front, emerging network conglomerates, or what Michel Bauwens’ calls Netarchical Capitalism, have established powerful collaborative platforms through which to extract surplus value, while emerging peer-to-peer industries drive hard to establish alternative commons oriented economic systems. On the political front, we are faced with bloated classes of government apparatchiks hell-bent on creating panoptic states, while transnational cyber activists aim to pry open the veil of government secrecy and unaccountability. The futures of the network era have yet to be written. Communications technologies lie at the very heart of power, and it is here where the great struggles for the futures will be waged.

The game will be played on Saturday, December 1st, 2012. 

While I understand to play the game one must be in Honolulu, I also expect the game and gamers to be  followed by various forms of social media.

Enter two of the coolest emerging futurists I’ve met, Aubrey Yee and John Sweeney, who are running this research project / game. I was fortunate to meet both them and many of their Manoa School of Futures Studies colleagues at the Penang WFSF miniconference in 2011, and have the great pleasure of introducing both of them through two very short  interviews I conducted and some biographic data. I hope you enjoy both their research and interviews.

Why Futures Studies? An interview with Aubrey Yee from Jose Ramos on Vimeo.

Born and raised on Oahu, Aubrey Yee is a freelance writer, photographer and professional futurist. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Futures Studies at the Political Science Department, UH Manoa under the guidance of Professor Jim Dator. Aubrey received her undergraduate degree from UCLA in Los Angeles. She founded her own business in 2004, a successful 10,000 sq ft. interior design showroom in Honolulu, Pacific Home, which she sold last year. Aubrey and her husband Brady helped to found the Hawaii chapter of After School All Stars, a non-profit serving Hawaii’s at-risk middle school youth by providing free after school enrichment programs. She also currently serves on the board of Kanu Hawaii, a grassroots social change non-profit. Recently, her futures consulting work has been expanding. She has co-facilitated foresight workshops for the State Office of Planning, West Maui Neighborhood Board, the Hawaii Futures Summit, Samsung Corporation, Kamehameha Schools and other businesses. She is currently a writer for the foundation Sustainable America, which seeks to create food and energy security in America. In her scant free time, she enjoys writing for Green Magazine Hawaii, working on her fine art photography and relaxing with her family in Kaneohe on the island of Oahu.

Why Futures Studies? An interview with John Sweeney from Jose Ramos on Vimeo.

John A. Sweeney is also a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Hawaii at Manoa where he also serves as a Researcher at the Hawaii Research Center for Futures Studies. John’s interest in urban creativity centers on the political and affective presence of street art, which served as the focus of a paper on representations of hijab in European street art published with Continent: A Topology of Thought ( Linking street art with the performative aspects of religious identity, John’s research examines the nexus between political economy and political theology in both present and future(s) contexts. Additionally, John’s research examines the ways in which media technologies affect experiences of urban space, and this trope served as the central theme for an article centered on Google’s myriad products and urban space published by John received his Master’s degree in Religion in 2007 and instructs courses in World Religion, Contemporary Religion, Christianity, Buddhism, and Indian Religions at Kapiolani Commuity College while finishing his PhD at the University of Hawaii at Manoa where he serves as a lecturer for courses on Media and Politics, Political Design and Futuristics, and Introduction to Political Science. At present, he is also a principle researcher on a grant project analyzing the impact of communication technologies, from the impact of the printing press to the advent of social media, upon power relations across various socio-cultural contexts with an emphasis on the affective and material assemblages mutating experiences of urbanity. He graduated magna cum laude from Kennesaw State University in 2005 with a major in the History of Ideas and a minor in Philosophy. John’s keen interest in the two things one is not supposed to talk about at cocktail parties—politics and religion—stems from his somewhat hasty decision to drop out of high school at the tender young age of 15, which rather than cementing him as someone without a future ironically put him on a decidedly circuitous pathway towards becoming a futurist. He tweets regularly about his research and various other things using the handle @aloha_futures.