When we look at the world around us and want to change things, where do we go for inspiration? Is there anything that can give us confidence that life might be different to the way it is today? For generations, in modern societies, the answer was 'the future': whether political or technological, revolutionary or reformist, the imagination was focused on the time ahead of us. Yet these days, the future sounds old-fashioned: somewhere in the past few decades, it lost the ability to serve as the natural home for hopes and desires, becoming instead a source of anxiety. In this talk, I want to think about how we live with the failure of the future - and whether we might be able to draw instead on the past and the present as sources for the political imagination.
Dougald Hine tells stories, explores ideas, brings people together and makes things happen. This starts from a desire to understand how we change things - and how things change, with or without us, and takes him cross country through other people's fields, from social theory to the tech industry, literary criticism, the future of institutions and the skills of improvisation. If he is good at anything, it is making connections - between people, between ideas and between worlds. The connections become visible when ideas are put into practice, for example, in 2006, Hine co-founded School of Everything dougald.co.uk/soe.htm - an award-winning web startup inspired by the informal learning experiments of the 1960s and 70s. In 2011, he set out on The University Project
dougald.co.uk/univproj.htm - a long-term enquiry into the promise at the heart of the university, the forms this might take in an age of networked technologies, and the possibility of regrounding it
within spaces that differ from today's business-like universities. Hine is a guest lecturer at various universities, art and architecture schools and gives conference keynotes and public talks about the questions at the heart of his work, in venues that range from theatres to think tanks to squats dougald.co.uk/speaking.htm. Before he got into all this, Dougald made a living as a busker, a door-to-door salesman and a BBC journalist. Dougald’s website is dougald.co.uk/