This is the competency in which—a bit like Voltron—all the others come together in synthesis, to produce big projects with deep scope.
Worldbuilding is a somewhat contentious term in futures work, but like a lot of contentious terms, the contention arises from different definitions coming into conflict.
For my money, the most concise definition of worldbuilding is that it’s what’s being done by anyone imagining futures or telling stories about them: that includes not just foresight practitioners but speculative and critical designers, as well as marketeers, political speechwriters, and even the accounts department in a big firm. What matters isn’t whether we do it or not—because we’re all doing it, all the time, just as a side-effect of being human—but rather that we do it well, and that the worlds we build are open, rather than closed.
If you’d like to know more about worldbuilding, perhaps you should read this essay I wrote for an edited volume produced by the experiential futures collective Time’s Up? Alternatively, drop me a line, we’ll set up a chat or meeting, and I can tell you directly.
Or maybe taking a look at some of the work I consider to be worldbuilding would help? Well, that’s all of my work, in one way or another… so have a browse and see what grabs you.
A short story set in the far north of Sweden; it’s about energy transitions, and about the sustained extractivisms that lurk behind them.
How to describe “Bestiary”? It’s not a story like one you might encounter in a magazine or anthology. It’s sort of a set of stories nested within another story…
A small team of researchers managed to pitch the idea of a narrative prototype which would explore a possible future for Lund University in a familiar and accessible format.
The Rough Planet Guide to Zero-Carbon Skåne is a website-based travel guide (of sorts) to Skåne. Not the Skåne of the present, though—rather, a possible Skåne of around 2045 or so.