Steampunk is an alternative history, a fantasy era, originating in the Victorian times and envisioning a future where steam and machinery are the dominant tools of progress. Think futuristic neo-Victorian, with gadgets, gears and goggles. It is philosophical and has a strong link to the maker / DIY movement which is gaining new popularity. In comparison to cyber-punk (think Matrix trilogy), Steampunk is more optimistic about the future and paints more of a utopian world rather than dystopian. So why would I use a historical fantasy to talk about our post modern future?
We have access to a surfeit of information, news that is up-to-date by the minute and opinions that are forceful, loud and ranging from evidence-based to pure conjecture. It is difficult in this environment, to concentrate on essential principles, when we are coloured so much by current information. By exploring the issues of the future from the perspective of a fantasy period, we can disengage our conscious minds from all we see online and actually deal with the concepts we are trying to learn. If we are not, from the very beginning, trying to fit in every bit of information to our already overwhelming complex lives, then we have the time to wrestle with some issues, a little theoretically or philosophically perhaps, before trying to apply them to a real world setting. For example, if we start talking about the future, most people begin talking about self driving cars, robotics and artificial intelligence. If we get caught up considering these very real and tantalising issues, then we may miss the other things we should be discussing such as the changing face of demographics and how that affects urbanisation, resource planning and job opportunities. These may not be as sexy as Tesla’s self driving car or a cute robot that can give you financial direction in a bank, but they are way more pressing issues and need to be considered. Our Steampunk Futurist theme aims to clothe the conversation about the future in a fun and engaging fashion, challenging our thinking while introducing new concepts. During the workshop, delegates will have the opportunity to return to some of their own real world issues and see if they can integrate the learned concepts with their own experience.