A1 Journal article (refereed), original research

Chasing Black Swans through Science Fiction: Surprising Future Events in the Stories of a Finnish Writing Competition


LUT Authors / Editors

Publication Details
Authors: Ahlqvist Toni, Uotila Tuomo, Hietanen Olli
Publication year: 2015
Language: English
Related Journal or Series Information: Journal of Futures Studies: Epistemology, Methods, Applied and Alternative Futures
Volume number: 20
Issue number: 2
Start page: 47
End page: 66
JUFO-Level of this publication: 1
Open Access: Not an Open Access publication

Abstract
In the paper we analyse the notion of ‘black swan', as popularised by Taleb (2007), by connecting it with the social and material contexts. Our paper is based on the assumption that when people imagine ‘black swans' they are actually engaged in something much more practical and contextual than being swallowed by the sea of conceptual contradictions. We propose that, in the context of futures imagination, ‘black swans' could be defined as hybrids that enmesh knowledge embedded in varied spatial contexts with variegated temporal knowledge, combining and mixing past, present, and future tenses, and linking this with speculation rising from multiple backgrounds. In the paper, we analyse what kinds of ‘black swans' this set of science fiction short stories were able to catch: what are their contexts, backgrounds, and knowledge sources. Through this analysis we discuss how the popular imagination of ‘black swans' produces new futures knowledge by hybridising space, time, speculation, and emotion. We provide an analysis of the notion of ‘black swan' through the material of writing contest hosted by the Finnish Parliament's Committee for the Future. The competition was open to the general public, and so it can be perceived as a representation of the popular imagination of ‘black swans'. In total, the material contains 132 short stories based on the idea of ‘black swans'. In the paper we analyse thus entire set of material as a data that gives intriguing insights on how Finnish people - from different locales, of different age and with differing educational and professional backgrounds - imagine futures. Thus, the data reveals interesting aspects on both on the popular imagination of ‘black swans' is constructed through science fiction.

Last updated on 2017-22-03 at 13:59