We received word of a very interesting project by John Cassel (reach him via john dot benjamin dot cassel at gmail), which involves participatory scenario building. This project requires all kinds of technical and other kinds of assistance, and we are therefore quoting the project description in full, based on a summary document provided to us by John Cassel.
Here it is:
ScenConnect is an implementation of a scenario connector. A scenario connector is a peer-to-peer software tool for communicating scenario information (such as plans, procedures, and predictions) in an easy-to-use and secure way.
How are scenario connectors different from other collaboration tools?
Scenario connectors represent scenario information in a unique way. Roughly speaking, a scenario is a story where the teller tries to communicate all of the possible endings. Scenarios attempt to discover all of the situations that might occur as events unfold. ScenConnect makes scenario creation simple by allowing situations and events to be described as combinations of tags, which are short text labels. Then, situations and events are joined together in networks that illustrate the possibility of events transforming one scenario into another. Scenarios can be quickly assembled from existing tag sets, from scenarios the user has previously created, from scenarios that other users have shared, and by tags provided by the system on installation.
What technologies drive scenario connectors? Scenario connectors open and distribute the scenario methodology. Originally developed by Shell in the 1970s, it helped them discover the possibility of an oil slowdown, which helped them dodge the 1970s recession. The scenario methodology is a technique for doing deep research on potential â€œblack swansâ€: rare and unexpected events that are difficult to imagine, but have potentially high impact. Scenario connectors are a direct offshoot of the work of Jamais Cascio, who opens up scenarios and breaks them down into their component parts, allowing users to reassemble them for their own purposes. Scenario connectors achieve this remixing effect via a networked tagging system, and makes strategic openness a pragmatic possibility through limited-exposure public-key cryptography in the context of peer-to-peer file sharing systems. Complimentary technologies, such as voice over IP, webbrowser plug-ins, prediction markets, collaborative filtering, and chat rooms all add to a rich scenario-sharing experience. However, scenario connectors will truly come of age after the emergence of RFID, geotagging, mobile social planning, and other technologies that can annotate the real world. Users will then be able to search for scenarios related to their current surroundings.
Who Uses Scenario Connectors? Core users for scenario connectors include:
â€¢ Regional entrepreneurs who want to see business models that have worked in other similar regions and what factors may have prevented this business from working in their region.
â€¢ Professional commercial and government scenario builders who want to save time and money in compiling similar scenarios for different customers. This will also allow them to interact with others who can contribute to their work, such as domain experts, technologists, and science-fiction writers.
â€¢ Employee-owned businesses and volunteer organizations who need to negotiate the direction of their institution. Instead of time-wasting meetings, scenarios and positions can be fleshed out, scored, and discussed online, allowing meetings to be reduced to core issues.
How will ScenConnect be developed? ScenConnect will be developed as an open-source project in an academic context. The project will grow slowly, with content being added by carefully selected foresight professionals and others they would like to have on board. This will also give trust time to form between existing participants, creating a robust collaborative filtering network, and also allowing the software to be gracefully adapted to increasing scales of participation. Eventually, the project may support small companies focused around custom scenario creation, tailored software development, prediction market arbitration, and other services.