Imagining Alternative Mediated Futures? Reflections on Experimental Workshops with Young People

Minna Vigren, Seija Ridell

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Imagining alternatives to the thoroughly networked contemporary everyday is not easy. In our research project, we tackled this problem by developing an ‘imagining workshop’ method and applying it in an experimental study with young people. In this paper, we present methodological reflections based on these imagining experiments. Our paper contributes to nascent research that explores and experiments with so-called speculative methods in the field of critical media and infrastructure studies. We are interested in whether the dynamic of hegemony that actualizes in mediated daily practices can be questioned, and alternatives imagined to ‘how things are’. We seek to do this by bringing together perspectives from speculative fiction and critical media infrastructure studies. Our key methodological question is: “how could we as researchers create interventionist methods to spark imagination and inspire (self-)reflective thinking in people about their mediated everyday?” In the paper, we highlight two major observations from the workshops. First, while projecting alternatives to future mediated everyday proved challenging for the participants, it sparked vibrant discussions on the contemporary networked society’s bleak sides. A challenge we observed is that the act of imagining does not necessarily mean that what is co-produced in playful workshop settings are counter-hegemonic narratives of the future. Second, our study highlights that young people have concerns about their mediated everyday life, and these concerns emphasize the need to actively seek alternatives to ‘how things are’. The concerns were related to privacy and dataveillance, and lack of safe online spaces, fairly manufactured devices, and possibilities to disconnect.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages3
JournalAoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2021
MoE publication typeA4 Conference publication
EventAnnual Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers - Virtual, Online, Philadelphia, United States
Duration: 13 Oct 202116 Oct 2021
Conference number: 22


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