Solstice greetings! 


Over the past few years, I’ve digitally gathered colleagues and friends to mark the passing of this shortest day of the year and the return of sunlight.

I began this in 2020, when many of us were still reeling from the shocks of the pandemic and forming new ways to connect. Our ritual is simple: gather a candle, a plate, and a small piece of paper, which you’ll rip in half. On one piece, write something you’d like to get rid of from the year, then burn it. On the other half, write a word that represents your intention for the year to come, and then post it somewhere you’ll see it often.

Now that we’re all out circulating again—and have had our fill of Zoom happy hours—I thought I’d share it via this newsletter so that all of you can do this in your own time. 

The word I chose for the year to come is “onwards.” I use it often: as a signature line but also in conversation as a bit of shorthand philosophy. I like it because it doesn’t necessarily mean that what’s coming next is so fantastic—but instead that something is coming, and we’ll need to persevere regardless. 

That same spirit animates the new Fun With Futures collaboratory we’ve been cooking up here at Dot Connector. It’s been a tough few years for the world. But rather than sinking into dread or fatalism, we want to play, learn, and create while we figure out what comes next, in good company with others who are also trying to reboot our crashed society.

Nested inside of Dot Connector Studio, the collaboratory is a conduit for both creative interventions and future-focused client work. Read on to learn about some of our collaborators and their hopeful projects! And drop us a line to let us know what you’re up to, and if you might want to join the fun. 


Fun With Futures


Welcome Evan Walsh! 

Evan has been a primary co-conspirator for Fun with Futures, helping to dream, wordsmith, scope, and vision board on both creative and business development. We’re so pleased that he’s joining Dot Connector Studio officially as an associate in December, focusing on organizational development and leading client work related to cultural strategy, experience design, and production. 

Big thanks to In-House International

When it came time to develop a new look and feel for Fun With Futures, we knew we had to go back to In-House, the creative studio who did such a fabulous job working on our Making a New Reality project. They’ve designed a vibrant and modular identity, inspired by early video games. 

As they explain: “All lines are made of connected dots, and the branding system for FwF features an evolution or riff on the idea of ‘dot connector’ and presents a very experimental, futuristic-looking logo, anchored on a playful, fresh look at retro digital aesthetics. The other element at the core of the new visual identity is flexibility. A visual system has been developed that allows FwF to easily create almost infinite variations of its logo, by  just manipulating a couple of variables.” 

Cool, right? Special credit goes to Lope Gutiérrez-Ruiz, who served as the project lead for this effort. (These folks are awesome, hire them for all of your visionary design projects). We’re also working with Dot Connector Studio’s Carrie McLaren to develop a related Fun with Futures website and more. Stay tuned!

Come Imagine with Us

Sign up before it fills up: Emergent Expressions

Our first Fun with Futures collaboration is a 16-week course spearheaded by Bristol Baughan of Inner Astronauts’ Regenerative Media Lab. “Designed with Sinclair Futures, sparked by collaborations with the Guild of Future Architects, this course will provide writers a semester-long structured program for personal transformation and creative expression,” she writes. “We looked for a program that combined futurism, personal inquiry, and creative writing and couldn’t find it. Here it is. We are writers, photographers, filmmakers, futurists, and award-winning storytellers, who create across disciplines and welcome whatever flavor of creation you bring.” 

We’re not just co-designing this class, we’ll be taking it too—so register today to create and collaborate with Evan and Jessica and a select group of other amazing humans.

Throw down with us each month

We’ve been hosting a monthly jam sesh and convening of practitioners and interested creatives incubating projects and methods for futurism. We’ve been calling it the “Futurist Throwdown,” and in 2023 it will happen the last Monday of each month at 1ET (1/30, 2/27, 3/27, and 4/24). E-mail Evan if you’d like an invite.

Image from “Fight Back” courtesy of Celine Tricart

So, What’s New in News?

Our focus on futurism comes out of Dot Connector Studio’s longtime work in sussing out what’s next for journalism, documentary and emerging media. Here’s some of what we’ve been writing about lately:

  • Jessica’s Nieman Lab prediction for 2023 contemplates how the ugly spectacle of reporters fleeing Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover echoes a “persistent pattern in journalism, in which periods of consolidation and aggregation of content and eyeballs alternate with explosive experimentation on new platforms.” ” Buckle up!
  • In Jessica’s role as the futurist in residence at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, last month she also shared “three hunches about the future of news,” sparked by conversations at the annual Journalism Funders convening. Got some hunches of your own? Submit them at the Share Your Hunch! Site.
  • News predictions can get pretty glum, which is why we’re glad our colleague Mark Glaser has rounded up “7 hopeful trends in journalism in 2022” for the News@Knight newsletter he produces.  
  • Through curating a series of vignettes from participants, Christie George—co-designer, visionary, and advisor to the New/s Initiative—traced the transformative nature of our program to support the innovations of journalists of color. From co-designer Tony Patrick “It’s a rarity to observe a paradigm shift occur right before your eyes, but in this case, in a matter of months, we collectively experienced the transformation of an incubator into a hub for communal- and self-care.”
  • Over at Immerse, Jessica Fiala and Sarah Lutman traveled to a Twins game to check out their new ARound app, developed for use during games and inside their stadium. In a three part series, Sarah Wolozin interviewed three VR artists from Venice Immersive, read part one and part two (part three coming soon) of the series. Lastly, look out in the new year for their new issue centering issues of disability innovation within a disability justice framework. 
Sherri Darden, owner and publisher of Scoop Media USA, speaks at the Reimagining Philadelphia Journalism Summit. Zamani Feelings

Other 2022 Highlights

We’ve worked with so many incredible clients this year—to name just a few:

  • Taking it back to 2021, we worked with the ISOC Foundation to launch their BOLT Grant Program. Check out the internet library BOLT grantee, Manuela Córdoba, created!
  • Back in September, Jessica participated in the Lenfest Institute Reimagining Philadelphia Journalism Summit meant to forge new paths toward a more inclusive, thriving Philadelphia news ecosystem. Read about the five main takeaways from the Summit here
  • We’re working with the Pop Culture Collaborative to support their exploration of how fan communities and narrative change strategies can inspire millions of people to resist toxic forces and create yearning for a just and pluralist society.
A new paper demonstrates just how easy it is to access VR users’ personal data in the metaverse. DPA/PICTURE ALLIANCE VIA GETTY IMAGES

What we’ve been reading lately with #DCS_Reads

We’re keeping an eye on debates in art, tech, philanthropy, and more. Follow along each week Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook and use #DCS_Reads to share articles you think we’d enjoy. 

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