Farcaster Mansions

In lieu of a proper newsletter

Apologies, but the week got away from me, so I was unable to finish up the essay I was planning for the week’s newsletter. But in lieu of a proper newsletter issue, I do have a weird little treat that I think you’ll enjoy, in slide-deck form.

This graphic above is from a snippet I contributed to the latest Yak Collective project, The New Old Home, a set of explorations of the future of homes. The illustration is by Ryan Hume. Here’s my blurb explaining the graphic, from Slide 7:

In Dan Simmons’s 1989 science fiction classic, Hyperion, wealthy individuals such as the poet Martin Silenius own mansions constructed with “farcaster” technology, with different rooms or wings on different planets. Doorways between rooms are portals connecting worlds light years apart.

Farcaster mansions suggest an allegorical understanding of a home as a portal among a set of otherwise disconnected worlds, with a presence in each, and comprising liminal passages between worlds for inhabitants to pass through. Individuals change roles and personas to suit different worlds, as they pass from room to room.

There’s more detail on the allegory on slides 8 and 9, including a 2x2 explaining the 4 quadrants of the graphic above. I also have another bit on the concept of “Domestic Cozy” on slides 21-22.

The project was led by Pamela Hobart and Drew Schorno, and it explores 22 themes relating to the future of homes, grouped into six categories. The core idea is that the home of the future is going to look a lot like homes in the past. Homes will once again become significant hubs of production, rather than being primarily devoted to consumption. On the other hand, the home of the future is also going to involve significant use of new technologies. Hence: “new old home.”

Browse the deck, tweet it, share with friends, family, and work colleagues, etc. We are shilling for all the attention we can get on this. It should be of particular interest to architects, urban planners, futurists, consumer trends mavens, consumer tech watchers, interior designers, bunker survivalists, apocalypse preppers, reality TV show producers, and people generally interested in the history, sociology and social psychology of domesticity.

Let me know what you think, both about the whole deck and my bits of it.

For those of you who haven’t been keeping up, as I’ve mentioned in passing on this newsletter before, the Yak Collective is yet another of my way-too-many activities. It is a open network of indie consultants that I’ve been involved in bootstrapping over the last few months. This is our second internally initiated project, and we’re also currently doing our first group project for a paying client. So the activity is evolving in interesting ways. If you or your employer might be interested in doing a project with us, get in touch.

So far, we’ve booted up and tested capabilities for running what we call “pop-up think tanks” which produce outputs like this New Old Home report, and our previous Don’t Waste the Covid19 Reboot report from April. We’re looking to do other kinds of interesting projects particularly suited to teams of independent consultants. Three months in, I’m beginning to get a sense of what such teams are good for, and what they can do that individual consultants or traditional consulting firms cannot.

This particular project was also fun for me in a different way — an opportunity to indulge in my latest weird obsession: mansions. You may have seen me tweeting bad mansion jokes on twitter in the last few months. I even have a new twitter account called @basicmansion. I still haven’t figured out where I’m going with that project, but I’m having fun just exploring all things mansion so far.

Back to regular programming next week.