📡 reporting from RADAR .014
our semi-regular discord digest
Welcome to 📡 reporting from RADAR. In this series, community curators surface the best of the best — from the cultural constellations we’re watching emerge to behind-the-scenes build updates as we embark on our journey to discover, incubate, and deliver better futures.
Wavelength is a space for updates, member articles, ponderings & wanderings, fun experiments and — of course — more signals. Subscribe below to keep up with our signature brain massaging magic, straight to your inbox. 🔮💜
1_Emergent Digiphysical Realities: Love-Hate Paradigms, Cross-Influences and Hope
spotted in: #commerce, #art, #fashion-beauty, #health-and-wellness, #technology, #relationships, #social-media, #religion-spirituality, #the-future-we-don’t-want
Our digital universes are increasingly colliding with our physical ones, producing distinctly emergent, complex and ‘centaur’ realities. As things move ever-faster, our ability to make sense of these newer paradigms are challenged – and its little wonder that receptions of topics like AI and “virtual living” oscillate wildly between fear-driven reactions to hype-driven commercial push. The call to halt AI’s progress seems to fall towards the former, but in a world still adapting to post-pandemic ‘new-abnormals’ – despite many still advocating to continue – perhaps there’s some value to cautious pausing? As the tech industry’s offerings, repute, trust and resources are in a state of downward spiral, we’re not sure what to trust.
With AI’s potential to disrupt becoming clearer – consider recent incidents with Horizon Worlds, Twitch and Replika showcasing the tech’s capacity for harm – reactionary responses like those from Italy or Art Station indicate the beginning of a divide. Worry around AI has precedence: The negative impact of social media and digital technologies on health, relationships, ideals and security is more widely understood now than a few years ago, causing backlashes, bans, barriers, and even self-imposed abstinence. It’s no wonder we’re approaching this new tech with wariness.
While digital fatigue and fear drives some people back to dumb-phones and paperbacks, equally many embrace the weirder, edgier, zanier and cultier dimensions of digital realities. There are optimistic, hopeful alternatives in these emergent technologies: From AI’s ability to detect breast cancers and design new proteins & vaccines, to VR’s role in reimagining learning, healing & collaboration, hope cuts through the skepticism to explore human-machine collaborative approaches & solutions.
These emerging influences from the digital realm now increasingly inspire the physical; from fashion & beauty to spaces, furniture, retail and advertising. Virtuality is driving enhanced IRL design and experiences for more harmony between our digital and physical worlds. From James Birdle’s idea of a blended-intelligence ‘Server Farm’ to the creation of wetware using mushrooms, a living computer using mice brain cells, new brain-computer interfaces, and upgraded prompt engineering methods – there is little doubt that our futures will see physical and digital co-habitating.
🔮 As the digital and physical become ever more enmeshed, how can we embrace opportunities while educating about dangers and pitfalls? Can we decouple emergent technology’s prowess from capitalistic agendas - and diminish polarization, disinformation and biases?
2_Past Forward to Tomorrow
Spotted in: #aesthetics, #commerce, #fashion-beauty, #community-culture, #environmental-climate, #food-drink, #health-and-wellness, #religion-spirituality, #ideology, #lifestages-psychographics, #music-audio, #science, #technology
Our love affair with the past continues. Vinyl is making a comeback, alongside jazz, flip phones, paper maps, and grunge. Millennial nostalgia continues in fashion, beauty, music and entertainment. As we embrace a cyclical nature of reality and being (which may even be in reverse), more of us are blurring temporal boundaries to reimagine collective futures. We see it in the recreation of Toran by Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri, the retooling of 1800s heatpumps for improved energy solutions, ancient aquaculture practices to boost sustainability, and materials innovation reveals through ancient civilizations’ principles. Increasingly, learnings from our ‘rearviews' lay resilient outlines for the future.
We see a desire to interweave the bygone (and the not-so-bygone), the ancient (and the medieval), and the ‘niche-talgic’ (and other forms of nostalgia) with contemporary contexts to build playful, bolder, healthier, more inclusive and imaginative constructs of tomorrow. From the need to find places, meanings and cocoons in a world changing swifter than our individual and collective processing speeds, to overcoming feelings of existential dread, and the general unease around facing a future that at times seems at odds with everything hopeful – we clutch onto the past with vigor, care, and thought.
As more reject traditional constructs of what constitutes our (understanding of) history, movements that revive old ideas to align with slower and equitable models of reality are gaining steam. From using traditional embroideries as a form of resistance and rebellion, to embedding ancient lunisolar calendar systems in new beauty rituals – history and futures are increasingly wound in confluent co-creation journeys. Traditional ideologies and practices are being rethought and repurposed by younger generations, with a rise in popularity of temples, folklore customs and ‘Grandma Era’. We’re seeing a neo-spiritual renaissance, blending older ideals & concepts with newer approaches. Be it looking at crypto through the lens of religion, or turning to Neo-Paganism, witchcraft, magick, ancient scents and all things mysticism, people are seeking respite and reassurance in spiritualism.
🔮 With the past continuing to grow and evolve an integral axis of emergence, in what ways will it shape a future borne out of Permacrisis sentiments? Can the answers to our widening gulfs be found in a trip down the collective-memory lane?
3_Rise of The Counter-Normal
Spotted in: #aesthetics, #commerce, #fashion-beauty, #community-culture, #environmental-climate, #food-drink, #health-and-wellness, #religion-spirituality, #identity, #money, #ideology, #lifestages-psychographics, #music-audio, #science, #technology, #future-we-don’t-want
As more now deep-mine attention and nicheify content to micro-constructs, we’re reaching a point where hyper-heterogeneity has accelerated in a way that seems almost homogenous! (It’s akin to Flash moving so fast, he appears still; except Flash is our entire culture). Despite more to choose from in a seemingly unending ‘newness’, things increasingly look and feel the same – something Alex Murrell describes as the Age of Average.
The ’everything-goes’ era is manifesting as ‘everything-everywhere, all-at-once’. So much is happening, so little makes sense. Extreme volume & diversity of information begets a content-overloaded culture – meaning putting a finger on the pulse is harder than describing corecore. Is it surprising that Languishing, Goblin-Mode, Anti-Ambition and ‘Let-it-Rot’ reign? They’re all trying to convey a deep fatigue against the more, the many and the myriad.
As we try to navigate this kaleidoscopic reality, articulating our Axis Mundi – what unites us, what synchronises and synergizes us – feels forever out of reach. Could this sensemaking status be inhibiting the incubation of new counter-cultures and flipped-paradigms – ones that can instigate imagination of newer, better, more relevant worlds?
In a society that increasingly seems to lack the fertility to build meaningful counter-cultures, we observe outlier individuals, groups, brands, philosophies and changemakers pushing against this – resisting against our ‘homogeneity-masquerading-as-heterogeneity’ era by rebuilding playful, weirder and anti-normative north stars.
We’re seeing Neo-Luddism from Gen Z as tech-disillusionment continues, while Millennials buck decades-old political paradigms. Colleges and schools are being dethroned, as more invest in micro-schooling and independent learning. Older generations are defying relationship norms as Grey Divorces rise, while the youngest reimagine constructs of IRL play through playgrounds normalising risks. From Maze Tourism to resurgence of Catholicism, from everything ‘sleaze’ to anti-dopamine dressing, from offbeat collaborations to Cringemaxxing and embracing darker antithesis to Hopepunk – the seeds of counter-norms are pollinating futures of resilience, fun and equity.
But counter norms embolden futures we don’t want, too. Best be careful of the rise in carnivore diets (and its influencers) as a backlash against plant-based food – riding upon a worrisome surge in toxic masculinity. With over a decade of push for body positivity in fashion, this season has worried many if it was all for naught? New startups betray unhealthy ideals of wellness, as walls dissolve between the virtual and actual driving the genesis of intimacy with non-real beings, along with newer constructs of relationships.
🔮 As trends are increasingly considered dead or pointless, and we struggle to locate unique identifiers to describe our era: How do we establish cultural coherence? With hyper-nicheification, are we headed for an all-out CoreCore-ification, where more things only make sense to certain participants in certain groups? How do we build a balanced counter-normal era?
Best of the rest
We have our eyes on the emergence of the ‘middlezone’ - as people take a “this-nor-that” stance to rising pressures to conform in a time of rising polarization: social omnivores are rising while normcore is expected to pendulum back again and the Just Fine movement gains ground. Memefication is on the rise - from fashion to religion, mental health and dating. New healing is being explored through music and metaverse. We’re exploring tensions between Nostalgia and Forgetting, alongside ways to solve Waste Colonialism. Constructs of intelligence are expanded as the world grapples with new innovations – like ones that might worsen climate change, some that can solve it, and some causing unexpected backlash.
Into The Future starts this week: We could not be more excited to kick off our futures & foresight workshop series, all centered around Play. We announced our speakers this week, which include Annika Izora, Malka Older, Eric Zimmerman and – of course – RADAR’s very own research team. If you haven’t bought your tickets yet – what are you waiting for?
Madness continues: The battle of the aesthetics is in full swing and we’re down to a competitive final four of Hopepunk, Lunarpunk, Cluttercore and Frogcore– tune in on Twitter to see who comes out on top.
Devs wanted: We're looking for full-stack developers to help build products and platforms to discover and launch the future. Wanna get involved or know anyone who might? Reach out to email@example.com.
Tuesday, April 20th: Rabbithole Open Mic: We’re back with everyone’s favorite internet deep dive series, where RADAR members take us through a journey of the deep-dives, signals packed rabbitholes that have been capturing their interest of late. For a hint of what you’re in for, check out the Miro from last month’s Rabbithole.
Tuesday, April 25th: The one, the only, RADAR Town Hall. Join us for our monthly community get-together where we’ll catch up on what’s happening in the community, where RADAR is headed, news, updates, and more.
This week’s 📡 reporting from RADAR was written and curated by @akash.das — with so much gratitude to everyone who inspired the content with their community contributions: @Victoriafutures#3436, @EHB ✨#1824, @ampersandrea#4926, @keels223#9073, @Samaritual#4862, @aron#0512, @SheShallConquer#6177, @moshner, @kairon, @Dwayne "The Jock" Ronson, @joecarpita, @livster, @oryzae, @alfeuerer @idlegaze, @Emmanuelle, @sarahsarahowen, @Patrick@Sentiers, @caitlin, @KleinKleinKlein, and many more.
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