rigorous improvisation

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This is a presentation I gave at the 2012 World Future Society conference in Toronto. It summarizes the technique I developed in my Major Research Project for my 2011 Master's degree in Strategic Foresight and Innovation.

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  • 1. RIGOROUSIMPROVISATIONKARL SCHROEDER, OCAD UNIVERSITY1

2. SCENARIO FICTIONMay appear as a vignette, short story, dramaticfilm, computer game, or even novel-length literary workAugments a scenario with characters, a setting, a situationand (though not always) a resolutionA reporting technique2 3. RELATEDTECHNIQUESComparative analysis (eg. literature review) A survey of existing literature (often contemporary sciencefiction) to uncover trending ideasScience fiction prototypes/design fictions A short story, movie or comic based specifically on a sciencefact for the purpose of exploring the implications, effects andramifications of that science or technology(Johnson, 2011, Bleecker, 2009)3 4. THE DIFFERENCE &THE PROBLEMThe difference Scenario fiction is a reporting technique. Scenario fictions areneither synoptic (like a literature review) nor generative (likeSF prototyping)The problem How do we write a scenario fiction that accurately representsa scenario without adding to, subtracting from, ordistorting the meaning of the scenario? 4 5. APPROPRIATE MODELA theory useful for constructing new stories is needed, ratherthan a theory for analyzing existing stories. Two approacheswere chosen: Our analytical approach to storytelling uses Ian Bogosts UnitOperations as the theoretical framework (Bogost, 2008) Our constructive approach is based upon the classical Art ofMemoryWe will use stories to fix critical foresight findings in peoplesminds by configuring those findings as units in a mnemonicnarrative. 5 6. THE TECHNIQUEConstructing a scenario fiction involves two key steps:1. Decompose the scenario into salient units. What are thekey findings and themes of the scenario? These will be theunits upon which we perform a mnemonic operation2. A story works as a mnemonic when we construct anarrative that would fall apart without the presence of each ofour units6 7. PARTS OF AMNEMONICThe locus is theframe that Striking, bizarre,contains imagesor dramaticthat stand for imagesideas we wish to summarize theremember ideas themselves7 8. WHERE HAVE WE SEENTHIS TECHNIQUE USEDBEFORE? The locus is theframe thatStriking, bizarre,contains images or dramaticthat stand forimagesideas we wish tosummarize therememberideas themselves8 9. LITERARYMNEMONICSLiterary structures can function as mnemonics. Example:The door dilated.LocusImageSource: Robert A. Heinlein, Beyond this Horizon (1942)In fact, any literary structure that places extraordinaryimagery in an ordinary setting is mnemonic 9 10. EXERCISEUsing a written scenario as source material, construct anarrative containing loci (settings, plotlines, etc.) andmnemonics (striking characters, situations, crises, actionsetc.) that represent the ideas in the scenario.10 11. THANK YOU!World Future SocietyOCAD University 11

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