📡 reporting from RADAR .015
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_Forces, fakes, and free will
Spotted in #money #technology #gaming #social-media #fashion-beauty #the-future-we-dont-want #general
Did you also binge the first four episodes of Mrs. Davis this week? Because we did (this won’t be a piece on the trend of squish & splatter in Damon Lindelof’s most recent efforts, from squid rain to jam-splosions, but we can talk about that later). And it’s got us thinking about the idea of a “force”.
A force is a technique employed in stage magic, where the magician guides a spectator to a specific choice – while leading them to believe they’ve chosen completely of their own volition. As we make our way through daily digital life mediated by marketing and software – all designed to elicit certain profit-driving actions from us – we navigate the world through a variety of forces. As the AI boom continues at an exponential pace, the power of these forces is only bound to increase.
Tech is blurring our understanding of what’s real, ushering in a new era of scams, spoofs, and fakes – with recent viral delights like a dripped-out pope and Jacquemus-does-Weinermobile offering a lighter side, while duping ID tech poses genuine danger to our security and sense of reality. And as everything from work to activism becomes gamified, we’re asking what’s real and what’s just a game we’re playing.
When anything can be made, how will we know what’s real (also, do we care)?
We’re looking to blockchain tech and new content authenticity initiatives to help lead us out of the mire of the might-be-real. We’ve been keeping our eye on the thinking around concepts like the aspiration economy and transmedia fashion: new means of navigating the landscape of social and cultural capital that leverage smart contracts to ensure ownership, authenticity, and portability. Here’s to hoping it all leads to a collective ability to better navigate the forces we face — and, if we’re lucky, increasing value placed on the human element.
🔮As AI, games and software bridge the gap between idea and creation, how can we ensure these tools are used for good? When reality becomes harder to discern, how might we change how we value authenticity?
2_How it’s (sustainably) made
Spotted in #commerce #environmental-climate #food-drink #fashion
Our culture of consumerism is showing cracks. Did that one Vox article from a few months ago dominate your feeds as much as it did ours? If there’s one way to go viral, it’s by saying something that everyone has been thinking. And we’ve all been feeling this one: From food and furniture to critical services, our stuff is worse now.
And what happens with all this mediocre stuff is, of course, that we throw it away. Products simply don’t work like they used to, and our culture of disposability means we toss ‘em at first signs of wear. But there’s an emerging resistance we’re keeping our eye on: a renewed focus on how it’s made. From the rise of a new class of material and manufacturing innovations to replace wasteful products, to a shift in consumer mindset that prioritizes process and craft over just the end product, as we desire more transparency and disclosure in what goes into what we buy.
In food & agriculture, new crops are emerging, meats are getting a makeover and invasive species are going from pest to plate (and while lots look delicious, just because it’s technically not cannibalism doesn’t mean we always want to eat it). And what we don’t eat can find a second life, as food waste gets upcycled in new and innovative ways.
In fashion, alternative leathers have been a growing innovation space – and we’re seeing designers push things further: From ready-to-wear advances like Stella McCartney’s biosequins replacing the traditionally plastic embellishment and Unless Collective’s plant-based streetwear, to more speculative, futuristic fabrics like Jun Kamei’s amphibious and infinitely-recyclable garments for an underwater human future. And retailers like REI are placing bans on forever chemicals, committing to producing products with less harmful materials – might we suggest bioplastics made from atmospheric CO2?
🔮Our consumerist culture often feels like a paradox. How can we support sustainability to overcome feeds filled with Shein hauls, and how might we scale these efforts from indie experimentation to mass adoption?
3_Wearing it on your sleeve
Spotted in #identity #community-culture #labour #play-signals #daily-signals
A few weeks ago, RADAR member @idlegaze took us on a deep dive during our monthly Rabbithole Open Mic: Hyper-confession culture (you should read his substack on it, too). We haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.
The idea? As Alexi puts it, “on the internet, every regret is a content opportunity, and every secret is a good story”. Secrets are trending as content filled with confessions, divulgences, and regret rack up millions of views – just look at the scores of get-ready-with-me videos that go beyond makeup to take on taboos.
And it’s not just on TikTok. We’re seeing a rise of honest and real breaking down the boundaries that outdated notions of professionalism once deemed off-limits or uncouth. From the Museum of Failure and the girlfailure meme celebrating the joys of imperfection, to accounts like Regret Counter’s self-described “Museum of Bad Behavior” delighting in debauchery, and even dinner parties in the nude, people are embracing the often messy realities that make us, us – owning our mistakes, embracing our failures and ditching shame for radical honesty.
But as with all things born of social #trends, we have our eyes on the dark side. How many of these divulgences represent genuine vulnerability, and how many are thinly veiled clickbait? Brands are getting in on the action, crypto’s coinfessions often take a cynical bent, and when creators like Jordan Firstman offer a massive platform for audience members to share their deepest secrets, it’s not always clear what submitters are seeking – relief or clout?
If you watched this week’s episode of Yellowjackets… you know there are some secrets you might want to keep to yourself.
🔮We’re all for breaking down boundaries and shedding taboos, but how do we separate positive destigmatization from clout chasing and trauma porn? Where does vulnerability cross a line into oversharing or trauma dumping, and when it’s all delivered via algorithmic FYPs – how might we mediate the impulse to watch every #storytime?
Best of the rest
Spring is almost sprung, but you can put down the outfit inspo Pinterest board – it’s time to worldbuild, baby. But don’t get too lost in building it all on your own, because being too online has lead us to an industry in crisis. We always recommend unplugging and touching some grass, but you should do it especially if you identify as male – the climate crisis isn’t going anywhere, and we’re going to need you too, bud. Complete and total unplugging might be tempting, but we like to think the keys to happiness rely on engaging with the world around you. Escapism and activism don’t have to be that far apart, in fact – whether you find yourself on a sweaty dancefloor or in a dark movie theater. Therapy can take a lot of forms, and if you need to let it all out, we say, go for it.
Come Play With Us: As we wrap up our research on play, a final call to be a part of it. Through RADAR’s Community Generated Content initiative, you can take part in two ways: A Weeklong Play Diary (7 days of simple-to-complete prompts), or Archetype 'Truth or Dare' Challenges (complete as many as you like!). It’s fun, easy, and open to everyone – so share with your friends, neighbors, grandmas, and anyone who might have an interest in exploring their own engagement with play. Check out this post in the discord for more detail, and submit your CGC here.
The Final Showdown: It’s the final match in RADAR Madness, with Frogcore taking on Hopepunk. We’ll admit, these were the RADAR sleeper favorites all along – and the community showed! up! with their votes to carry these two all the way to the finals. Don’t forget to cast your votes to see which comes out on top in the Cores v. Punks battle.
Tuesday: TOWN HALL, BABY. You know it, you love it, we’d love to see you there. The team will be sharing some announcements, getting hyped for the Play report, and as always the vibes will be vibing. Join us in the discord.
This week’s 📡 reporting from RADAR was curated by @oryzae — with so much gratitude to everyone who inspired the content with their community contributions: @akash.das, @idlegaze, @victoriafutures, @keels223, @samaritual, @EHB, @AndreaC, @aarenarchive, @sarahsarahowen, @feartheflock, @caitlin, @Nik, @Dwayne “The Jock” Ronson, @kairon and anyone else we may have forgotten.
Not a part of RADAR just yet, but feeling the FOMO? Join us here.