Note — Sep 11, 2022

The Aesthetics of Our New Fictions

This one is a bit uneven in spots, starting with the long ‘overstating Dunbar’ quote by Harari at the very beginning, but it’s a great match with the first piece and a recurring theme here, around storytelling, fiction, and the role of stories in our lives and societies. It’s worth a look and a share for the authors’ focus on the role of visuals, using the US dollar, robots and AI in movies, country flags, and Web3 as examples of stories as social contracts.

What we are calling “fictions” here are social contracts—money, ethics, laws, countries, religions, flags, totems, fashion, music, arts— rules we create to be able to agree on social norms and expectations. […]

Power both creates and depends upon the shared fictions of the monoculture. Power self-perpetuates through control of these fictions, which must be coded as legitimate and immediately recognizable through their symbolism, language, and design. […]

The process of questioning, antagonizing, and creating new fictions is natural, but the scale, speed, and intensity of social media radically changed how quickly this process takes place. […]

“We are in the midst of a major social transformation — moving many of our day-to-day activities from physical places to information-based places that we experience on our phones and computers. The central question here is: How can we design these information environments so they serve our social needs in the long term?” (Jorge Arango)