The Sci-Fi Economics Seminar happens in May 2024. Now what?

Calling @hugi , @matthias , @nadia , @ivan, @marina, @Nica, @akmunk, @yudhanjaya. Cc @giacomo.pinaffo.

We have a very attractive intellectual and cultural opportunity coming up: we have a partner to help us organize the first Science Fiction Economics Seminar, to take place in Sicily in May 2024. Ha-Joon Chang has confirmed that he will deliver the keynote. We now need to decide how to play it.


  • Edgeryders is partner of Fondazione di Comunità Messina and Fondazione Horcynus Orca for the 2024 edition of the Horcynus Festival (info, in Italian) 2024, themed on science fiction.
  • We agreed with the Foundation that this would have two components: one centered on economics, one centered on arts.
  • The economics one is to take place in May 2024. The original idea (credit to @hugi): we do an open call for 20 economists/anthropologists/social scientists/whatever that are interested in contributing to hammering out fictional, but plausible economic systems that could get us to the other side of the climate crisis, inspired by science fiction and cli-fi. These people would pay for their own cost. The festival provides us with a nice location and a kick-off lecture by a famous economist (and boy did we get one).
  • The arts one happens during the summer. This is more in Nadia’s court, but I heard that Paolo Cirio was considering doing an installation in the MACHO museum.

Timeline for the economics seminar

  • Giacomo and I contacted Ha-Joon Chang in August to learn about his calendar.
  • In October he agreed to do it in May.
  • By November 10th we need to nail the exact dates in May.
  • By the end of December we need a microsite with a clear concept and a call for participants.
  • In January we launch the call.
  • In March we select participants.

What I need now

I am happy to take responsibility for all this on a volunteer basis. However, I realized that I need a peer to think with, both because it’s more fun and because otherwise I risk becoming too focused on my own obsessions. So the question is: is any of you willing to be co-leading with me, or should I look elsewhere?

The questions we will need to answer, among others:

  • Format. What will the Seminar look like? A week of full immersion with whiteboards, no agenda at all? Workshops and activities all the time, and which ones? Something in between?
  • Output. What do we aim to produce? 10 abstracts for papers to be written? More Witnesspedia contributions? What else?
  • Participants and recruitment strategy. Are we going to go for academic types? Activists? Businesspeople? A mix?

You get the idea.

Anyway, looking forward to this!


Looks like an interesting event, esp. in combination with the improbable setting and folks of Fondazione Horcynus Orca. :slightly_smiling_face: I’ll decline becoming a co-lead for this though … not enough time to take up a new responsibility. But happy to help bouncing around thoughts, here on the forum or in calls, where you think my mind can be useful for that.

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You must be joking. Your mind is useful for pretty much anything I can think of. Tell you what: I’ll keep looking for a co-lead, then have a rough-and-early concept that I (we) will share with you. Works? And thank you so much!

This is a fantastic opportunity and I am really happy to see it becoming reality.

I have a lot on my plate right now, but would be willing to support this with some time and energy.
I propose we organise a “sprint” session next week (before 10 November) to frame the questions you are posing and explore potential paths.
Would be great to have whole the crew on board for this.

PS. Barely related, but fun fact. Some time ago I connected Giacomo to a friend from Pula University who organised a visit to Messina from her Uni and Pula municipality. Here’s the report from the local paper written by her.
Fondazione Messina Glas Istre 250623.pdf (3.1 MB)

Great. Ivan, we have a catch-up call tomorrow (Friday) at 9.00 (in Italian). Will send you the Zoom link via Telegram.

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The first order of business, as @nadia says, is to jointly define an output for the seminar, and a community to deliver it. For example:

  • The purpose of the Sci-Fi Econ seminar is to produce abstracts and outlines for future papers that use sci-fi work to illustrate concepts from new economics, such as degrowth, just transitions, universal basic services, and commons based peer production. To this purpose, the seminar targets a mix of academic economists and activists from areas such as permaculture, right to repair, ecovillages, open source etc.


  • The purpose of the Sci-Fi Econ seminar is to produce creative writing that uses new economics concepts as part of their worldbuilding. To this purpose, the seminar targets authors and other creatives, with a smattering of economists to help inspire them.


  • The purpose of the Sci-Fi Econ seminar is to contribute to the further development of Witness. To. this purpose, the seminar targets a mix of economists, authors and readers.


  • The purpose of the Sci-Fi Econ seminar is to produce a publishable analysis of the Messina advanced cluster in terms of new economics. Sci-Fi is used to “project” the models used onto a futuristic Messina with a fully developed cluster. To this purpose, the seminar targets a mix of economists, economic anthropologists (since some field work is necessary), and authors.

You get the idea.

Sounds like you are going to need some writers and some stories as outputs. Or something that is a mix of fictional and practical, maybe like this: Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities: A Collection of Space Futures - Center for Science and the Imagination.

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Everyone, Joffa - @zazizoma here is the organizer of the Space Economy Camp. Welcome! You would be very welcome to the Seminar, and I would be delighted to design it together with you.