Locales of the Normal Future #1 — UTF404

Creative worldbuilding workshop with design students from Les Arènes, Toulouse
24 Apr 2015
In Collaboration With
DSAA Les Arènes, Toulouse

Dur­ing a week-long world-build­ing work­shop, design stu­dents from Les Arènes were invit­ed to make the world of N O R M A L S their own, and tasked to role-play as new cit­i­zens of this world forg­ing their own com­mu­ni­ty. For this event, we made a cus­tom card game allow­ing stu­dents to play more col­or­ful char­ac­ters and face all sorts of issues to which they had to respond creatively.

The result is "UTF-404", a new neigh­bor­hood in the Cul­ture. Here is an overview of how this work­shop went.

    by R_​I_​K

Rules and laws change depend­ing on where you are in the Cul­ture. It is only nat­ur­al for some frenz to agree togeth­er on what can and can­not be done. R_​I_​K has tak­en the time to com­pile what her fel­low frenz seemed to agree on as being accept­able, or just plain punishable.

On top of this, she’s cre­at­ed a unique way for her legal frame­work to be inter­act­ed with. Rather than a tex­tu­al repos­i­to­ry, she’s cho­sen to have aug­ment­ed organ­isms called ‘GY-NTs’ glide about in the neigh­bor­hood and where rel­e­vant — think prim­i­tive traf­fic lights. Each one car­ries a spe­cif­ic law, or law propo­si­tion, can be edit­ed, and even emit­ted by passersby.

    by Gas­ton

Gas­ton is what you might call a gamist. She’s tak­en on the urban plan­ning of the neigh­bor­hood and has done it through a series of games where each frenz has been asked to throw dice, pick num­bers, pick sym­bols… All of which even­tu­al­ly trans­lates into loca­tions and dif­fer­ent mod­ules for their homes.

    by Giorgio_​Alabama

Giorgio_​Alabama is one of the rare well trained ran­dom­ness tech­ni­cian in the Cul­ture. Here, he’s devel­oped a set of open, phys­i­cal inter­face tem­plates allow­ing one to inter­act with randomness.

3.a. Cat­a­log of GiorgioAlabama’s prod­ucts.
3.b. The Inno­cent Hand: once every three years, frenz gath­er to elect an ‘inno­cent hand’ — some­one trust­wor­thy ded­i­cat­ed to inter­act­ing with ran­dom­ness for impor­tant deci­sions.
3.c. The Hat. An Inno­cent Hand’s weapon of choice — even they get elect­ed by their pre­de­ces­sors through this tem­plate of rad­i­cal sim­plic­i­ty.
3.d. The Lucky Wheel. These you will find in pub­lic here and there, they are meant to quick­ly solve basic dis­cords among frenz. Its default set­ting is “where to par­ty next?”.

    by Culcul_​La_​Praline, Marble_​Queen, and Mickey

The neighborhood’s res­i­dents are lucky to have such ded­i­cat­ed fash­ion­ists. Every frenz here got to be aug­ment­ed in cus­tom out­fits. Well, except it was all done accord­ing to a Swag scale, and here ‘Swag’ trans­lates as ‘more stuff around you’. As of today, no one in the whole Cul­ture looks remote­ly as good as the inhab­i­tants of UTF-404.

4.a. Gallery of aug­men­ta­tions.
4.b. Cit­i­zens of UTF-404 on the Swag scale.
4.c. Detail of Marble_Queen’s out­fit.
4.d. Detail of Mickey’s outfit.

    by Dal­i­da_La_Sea-Slug_Ter­ri­ble

There once was a frenz named Dalida_​Le_​Terrible, and a Frenz named Sea-Slug. Sea-Slug was an exper­i­men­tal par­ty archi­tect. Dal­i­da was a stream-based par­ty mak­er, and was known to stream waaaay too care­less­ly. So much so, came final­ly the day he emerged from a long stream­ing ses­sion into anoth­er frenz’ body. Not any frenz. It had to be his ulti­mate par­ty-mak­ing neme­sis. Enter Dalida_La_Sea-Slug_Terrible.

5.a. Jour­nal. A set of bio­graph­i­cal evi­dences that describes the tumul­tuous life of these two frenz, and their dai­ly bur­den of coex­is­tence. The jour­nal fea­tures sto­ries, med­ical facts, Dalida’s plans for cre­at­ing dead celebri­ties’ data mashups, as well as a trib­ute to the now gone James_​Plaisir — may the Machine keep his soul at rest. A spe­cial part of the jour­nal is ded­i­cat­ed to Sea-Slug’s exper­i­ments in vibra­tional archi­tec­ture and fre­quen­cy-mod­u­la­tion ther­a­py.
5.b. Sea-Slug’s ‘BAFFLE2B’. A par­ty dome designed specif­i­cal­ly for prop­a­gat­ing fine-tuned oscil­la­tions with fre­quen­cies pin­point­ing at var­i­ous desired behav­iors, from relax­ing mods to HxCPRTYYY ones.

  1. LAB 404 NOT FOUND
    by $@r@h-<3 and Oula-Oula

The Lab 404 is a lit­tle rev­o­lu­tion­ary group with a plan: get­ting every­one offline. Its founders have cre­at­ed an under­ground hide­out from which they exper­i­ment with dif­fer­ent means of inter­fer­ing with frenz’ aug­ment­ed vision. But for such ille­gal work to escape the scruti­ny of the Machine, they’ve tak­en the harsh deci­sion of tear­ing their ‘i’s out — the ‘i’ being every frenz’ AR soft implant — which irrev­o­ca­bly means tear­ing their actu­al eyes out. But resource­ful as $@r@h-<3 and Oula-Oula are this dras­tic oper­a­tion is only one of their well planned ‘phazes’. A suc­cess in fact, now result­ing in — slight­ly dumb — clones of theirs place­hold­ing their donor’s spots on UTF’s sur­face, while serv­ing as ves­sels for their eyes. The Machine hasn’t noticed.

$@r@h-<3 and Oula-Oula are now exper­i­ment­ing with micro earth­quake gen­er­a­tors and oth­er vibra­tional tech­niques to dis­rupt the ‘i’s net­work­ing capac­i­ty. They often gath­er with par­ty builder Sea-Slug (now Dal­i­da_La_Sea-Slug_Ter­ri­ble) to get her input on how to fine-tune frequencies.

    by Chrome‑a

UTF-404 could not open to the pub­lic with old bor­ing weath­er sys­tems. Rain, clouds, the sun. Meh. Thank­ful­ly Chrome‑a has been tak­ing care of that. Only, hav­ing a soft spot for squeaky and puffy and infan­tiliz­ing things, she’s made her sys­tem for chil­dren to play with. If you ever come by the neigh­bor­hood, do not be sur­prised if you have to walk through a thick cloud of sug­ary fluff, or a flow­ery haze. How­ev­er if eupho­ria-induc­ing con­fet­ti start rain­ing on you: RUN! These can be lethal. In any case, here are a few of Chrome‑a’s weath­er systems:

7.a. Meteobot. Lit­tle drones con­trolled by chil­dren that spray all sorts of things into the atmos­phere.
7.b. Flat­ty. Two-dimen­sion­al clouds mov­ing cheer­ful­ly.
7.c. Blankie. Clouds of cute soft toys (cul­tur­al objects rep­re­sent­ing ani­mals).
7.d. Lighty. Soft­ly glow­ing rain sys­tem aug­ment­ing the urban light.

  1. LA SCK­LOλA
    by Elvis_​du_​Futur

Elvis has tak­en charge of the locale’s edu­ca­tion sys­tem and she’s done it by apply­ing a very demo­c­ra­t­ic method. Stream-based forms where made for every mem­ber of UTF to voice his or her vision of edu­ca­tion. Unbe­knownst to most, Elvis is an acute anti­modist. Mean­ing: she’ll do the exact oppo­site of what the pie-charts she’s gar­nered indicate.

“Regres­sion, repres­sion, obser­va­tion, oppres­sion” is the mot­to now. Where frenz asked for a vir­tu­al and dis­trib­uted space of edu­ca­tion, they got a cen­tral­ized mono­lith. Pro­gres­sive? Nope. The school is com­plete­ly back­wards, with books and pen­cils no frenz knows to use any­more. And rather than being put in touch with a whole team of qual­i­fied peo­ple, edu­ca­tion is pro­vid­ed by one, cen­tral, and severe fig­ure who spends her time stalk­ing stu­dents and keeps tabs on them down to their most com­pro­mis­ing habits.

    by Car­los, Leg­ba, and Oppenheimer

No mat­ter the poten­tial for inno­va­tion and abstract dis­trac­tions the Cul­ture offers its inhab­i­tants, some frenz love to look the oppo­site way. Because they’re that cool, you see. Car­los, Leg­ba, and Oppen­heimer are such frenz. And togeth­er they’ve decid­ed to let oth­ers expe­ri­ence the raw­ness of old­en times by cre­at­ing a cen­ter for con­flict res­o­lu­tion between two peers that is all about the bar­bar­ic theme. In essence, it’s a fight­ing pit. One where you enter only to be stripped of your swag points, hell even your clothing.

Once naked, you and your oppo­nent will be giv­en ran­dom­ly picked dig­i­tal weapons — these range from mag­i­cal swords and dag­gers to sausages and cats.