The Future is Elsewhere: Towards a Comparative History of Digital Futurities
03 / 2010 - 02 / 2014
Every generation fosters its own conception of the future, just as these conceptions change from place to place. Forms of the future (or 'futurities') build on specific cultural heritages, but also 'go global' by the spread of various narratives and practices of communication technology. The 'digital revolution' 'still unfolding its potential scripts, practices and networks since it began to emerge in the 1960s' is the most recent of such historical transformations, and it has come to symbolize the 'new' intermediality and democratic accessibility of popular cultural performance. This project attempts the multidisciplinary comparisons required to understand such a global dynamic, by comparing such digital future(s) in Europe and North America, East Asia and Southeast Asia, as they emerge in the history of two distinct genres of technologically-driven futurities: 'science fiction' and 'development discourse'. Both genres often find their technological futures elsewhere: in development doctrines, in a different country, and, in science fiction, in outer space. Comparative histories of such futurities will, we propose, indicate how digital intermediality has both symbolized and facilitated the transfer of content from popular culture into policy statements and vice versa in the period between 1945 and the new millenium.