2016 MMMM

Footnotes for FuturePlaces 2016
Heitor Alvelos



Not the angry crowd, quite the contrary: mobilisation. Ways of action in 2016. Activism is becoming difficult, enmeshed in its own simulation, confronted with what is often the opposite of its desired outcomes. Polarised models of intervention seem outdated: how can we now navigate, with integrity and consequence, through broken promises, folk devils, the threat of terror, media-induced euphoria, and the paradox of sharing and survival?

Our time often seems to be about viral messages and instant success, but it should also be about the need to preserve, project and maintain cultural and historical value systems. How do we reconcile our age of instant random access to information, potentially amnesiac, with the very human call for wisdom? Is there a café somewhere where the Traditional Museum and Pokemon Go sit down for a chat?

The current abundance of “free signals” often seems to create semantic spirals where we generate endless chains of opinions, reactions, fictions, contradictions, possibilities. And while it is obviously healthy to speak one’s mind, often we find ourselves quite lost in a noisy landscape where meaningful experience becomes difficult to reveal itself in the first person. In the exercise of rescuing meaning among such a media-saturated environment, can the individual build a template that is of use to others, or is this exercise solitary, irreducible?

At the same time as voices on the international political scene declare themselves “tired of experts”, science may well be an antidote to populism, the key to a healthier, more informed, more fulfilled daily existence. The Portuguese government’s proposal to foster participatory scientific projects, emerging from think-tanks driven by citizens, promises to bring together scientific expertise and empirical knowledge, proven methodologies and seasoned know-how.