This research project focuses on how the potential of interactive media can be used to help open up dialogues about scenarios of the future. With an increasing recognition that the behavior of connected social and ecological systems gives rise to fundamental complexity and uncertainty, interest in interactive media to help us communicate these insights grows apace. The potential of interactive media to facilitate education and dialogue on sustainable development is only beginning to be explored. A number of scientific niches with specific interests and strategies exist, and beyond them, there is a world of new media applications that is as yet mostly untapped by those working in science communication. Meanwhile, generations of digital immigrants , people that learned to make use of computers at a later age, are being succeeded by generations of digital natives who have grown up interacting with the digital world and for whom this world is second nature.
In this PhD project, we first explored various disciplines concerned with science communication to build a guiding framework for the use of interactive media in scenario development. We have explored landscape visualization, participatory spatial planning, serious gaming, visual analytics and knowledge visualization to find guidelines and strategies for scenario communication. Then, based on this framework, we have designed a participatory scenario development approach that has accessibility and creative stakeholder contributions as its main focus. Our method, the Scenario Communities project, makes use of Google Maps and Google Earth to geographically organize stakeholders personal interpretations and visions of their future in different scenarios. Our first case study is the UK county of Oxfordshire. See http://www.scenariocommunities.com for more information on the Scenario Communities project.