Now What?

This is a question we’re all asking ourselves as we emerge from more than a year of pandemic lockdown, political upheaval, and deep self-examination about racial and social injustice. 

But at Dot Connector Studio, we’ve decided to make it our core question.

In recent months, we’ve shifted our focus to working with clients and collaborators to explore the future of art, media, democracy, and inclusion. We’re finding that this approach opens up doors for creativity and optimism in difficult times.

Read on to learn more about:

  • How our team helped the NEA understand the ways that artists are using technology as a medium
  • Why we are inviting journalists to rethink themselves as future architects
  • What’s happening at the frontiers of nonfiction media
  • Where democracy might go next
  • Provocations for building a more just and beautiful tomorrow

We know that many of you have also been moved to change your practice and rethink your commitments. We are eager to connect and learn more. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and start a conversation.

Projection art piece with varying layered colored blocks projected on a warehouse floor, wall, and ceiling featuring seven people standing at a distance observing the moving projection around them
Our brand new NEA report: Tech as Art

On June 29, the National Endowment for the Arts released its new field scan, Tech as Art: Supporting Artists Who Use Technology as a Creative Medium. Dot Connector Studio conducted the research for this report in collaboration with 8 Bridges Workshop’s Sarah Lutman and her team. The report is geared to help funders make more informed decisions to support artists in tech.

ombre pink to purple background with off set black outline on 3 sides with text reading New/s
The New/s initiative will help journalists reimagine themselves as future architects

With funding from the Ford Foundation, we have  launched a three-year project to support diverse journalists in collaborations to make news more representative and actionable. We’re calling it the New/s initiative: pronounced “new news.” In partnership with the Guild of Future Architects (GoFA), this project will nurture the ideas and talent of those who are already constructing tomorrow’s journalism. 

Learn more here

collage of newspaper with microphones from Knight Foundation article called A Guide to Resources for Local News Publishers of Color
Resources for local publishers of color

In our ongoing work with the Knight Foundation, Dot Connector’s Mark Glaser has begun a series of guides for community publishers and media professionals. The first one, A Guide to Resources for Local News Publishers of Color, contains the best grants and funding, associations/communities, training/fellowships, and tips for collaboration.

Glaser’s work addresses the larger discussion of fighting for news equity. In March, at the virtual Knight Media Forum “funders, journalists, [and] community leaders discuss[ed] ways to create more informed and engaged communities, promote free speech and free press, and explore the rise of disruptive technology.” 

Orange back ground, with collage on side of four people with 5 planters in background and hole cut out of orange backdrop showing stars. Text reading: New Literacies, How will we move from a crisis of destabilizing information into an age of trusted wisdom? Guild of Future Architects, Omidyar Network.
New trends report identified hopeful futures

Another project with GoFA came out in April. A collaboration with Omidyar Network, Portals to Beautiful Futures: Trends to Watch in 2021 and Beyond flows from a yearlong process of imagining life beyond the pandemic.  

This isn’t just  another tech-focused trends report, or a contrasting best-case/worst-case set of possible scenarios. Instead, the narratives, speculative artifacts, and proposed futures in the report are drawn from the hopes and imaginations of more than 1,000 people in GoFA’s virtual sessions, which explored how to make the systems that shape our lives more just and inclusive.

screen grab of zoom call with 6 attendees with an overlay font reading: I have hit a limit.
What’s the latest at Immerse?

In 2016, Dot Connector Studio’s Jessica Clark co-founded Immerse,  a Medium publication focused on creative discussion of nonfiction news. Earlier this year, Jessica stepped down as editor and welcomed Abby Sun to fill that role.

Check out the latest issue, “Playing With Reality,” which explores the intersection between documentary and games. Don’t miss the piece on our media strategy deck, the Impact Pack, and other card games for immersive makers.

photo of post it note reading democracy TBD
What’s next for democracy?

For the Democracy TBD project with the Democracy Fund, we convened five diverse groups of thinkers and led them through a scenario-planning process to probe the challenges and opportunities for democracy in the fall of 2020. Even as we ran the working groups, some of their predictions came true, including the dual catastrophes of an escalating pandemic and a natural disaster. But the goal was not necessarily to make accurate predictions; rather, we aimed to anticipate major social changes and how the foundation might shape and intervene.

Overall, the project was a great way to demonstrate Dot Connector Studio’s evolution into a collaboratory with a focus on futuring. And what we learned was that bringing together a diverse mix of people could lead to surprising, intelligent ideas that brought us visions of dread and hope for the future.

Read the entire report on Democracy TBD here.  

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