While confinement has accelerated the creation of new narratives, it’s time to reinvent those of tomorrow.

These times of crisis have been marked by the reign of uncertainty. Uncertainty as to the way out of the crisis, what the future holds … in this singular period, writing and storytelling are necessary and essential for information,  communication and as a personal outlet.

 

Daring to experiment in uncertain times

We have seen numerous open letters, confinement diary, all types of essays and poetic offerings flourishing during these times. Without forgetting the Instagram challenge ‘Les Tranches Poétiques’ that uses book names to create poetry.

This allows for better communication on the issues facing us, helps us maintain links despite social distancing, relieves boredom and leaves a written trace for future generations.

This new confinement literature is both a testament to the creativity of its authors but also helps underline the exceptional circumstances we find ourselves in. The use of words has helped to anchor this new reality.

This is a reality where a return to normal seems difficult, even undesirable. Writers, sociologists, citizens and experts are all in agreement. The crisis must push all industries, in all sectors, to look at themselves in the mirror obviously at their purpose and how they go about their business. This means anticipating, experimenting, changing tack, daring, innovating….

In terms of narrative it’s therefore important to ask the right questions. In an era where the world of fiction and reality are increasingly blurred with fake news, 24hr news, and artificial intelligence, are we still able to explore narratives in the same way?

 

Study desired and undesirable outcomes

We need to use our imagination, new forms of writing and thinking, look differently and change our perspectives. Works such as Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari, the Pessimist’s Guide by Bloomberg or the Black Mirror series, have shown us that imagination and fiction have their relevance in thinking about tomorrow’s alternatives.

In order to imagine the future of innovation, the role and perspectives for brands we have to study this new hybrid reality. We bring together new people with different perspectives to explore outcomes that are more or less desirable.

This is why we invite our readers to discover the letter writing of Jean and Mei, the young students of the future discovering the world on the eve of the year 2050. Combining a future narrative, with trends and letter writing that challenge the meaning of the word ‘travel’ in a world where borders are closed. Their contemporary observations cover the role of the digital behemoths, the evolution of brands and companies in an era when ecology and global governance have become particularly significant….

Mei

 

I’m writing to you fearful that I will never meet you in person as you’re on the other side of the world. I’ve just witnessed the investiture of Greta Thunberg, the first president of the Global Coalition. We are governed by the same laws and yet we have never been further apart. Everything is done to ensure we remain homebound, That seems to be the same everywhere even if the pandemic were to end one day.

Discover what happens next:

 

The first trip to be made via smartphone, from the comfort of his sofa. Written by Marc Beaudeaux, Strategic Planner.

 

  Paris

 26th April 2050

 

My dear friend Mei,

 

I’m writing to you fearful that I will never meet you in person as you’re on the other side of the world. I’ve just witnessed the investiture of Greta Thunberg, the first president of the Global Coalition. We are governed by the same laws and yet we have never been further apart. Everything is done to ensure we remain homebound, That seems to be the same everywhere even if the pandemic were to end one day.

 

You know me, I’m happy with certain measures taken by the president. They veer towards fairer , more inclusive economics, progress and the environment benefits. Companies are now slowing down their growth and combining social justice and environmental issues with profit. Also, energy must be locally produced, consumed on a household basis and there is a limit placed on factory farmed animals. Indeed alternatives are flourishing ( I ate a vegetable steak yesterday, it was delicious, I would have loved to have shared it with you!) and people are obliged to grow their own vegetables in their own or shared gardens.  Water no longer flows freely out of taps and construction work has ceased…..finally Mother Earth can breathe!

 

 

While these measures dovetail with my beliefs they also break my heart. Plane travel is now forbidden and mail is the only thing that travels by air. We need to be patient before we look at ourselves in the eyes. When I think about it just few short years ago I would jump on a Boeing and be at your doorstep in a few hours. I can’t help but be nostalgic about times that

we hardly knew when we were globalised for the wrong reasons. Maybe it was the 2-3 generations that preceded us that forgot one essential thing: don’t take the world for granted.

 

The earth is damaged but we can restore it while we continue travelling. I want to remain an optimist and share an idea with you. My parents are continually asking me what I’m going to do the year of my baccalaureate. I wanted to share this before taking a decision as I’d need somewhere to stay. I’m thinking of using my time wisely and studying while I travel across continents to join you in China. I’ve looked into it,  it’s possible and it could be great!

 

There’s a rail company in France (check it out on-line, it’s called SNCF) that’s offering a programme allowing you to study while you travel to China. They have developed an educational programme with Netflix Education. The trains are equipped with screens showing a new on-line educational format with different subjects and levels. It’s half way between a documentary and lecture you might see in an amphitheatre. The modules are interactive and designed to your keep attention throughout the courses. Set in real life situations, with special effects, archive material, it’s all there…the teaser left me speechless! On top of that they have incredible lecturers. The history lessons are given by Yuval Noah Harari the author of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and natural sciences  by the great David Attenborough who was a fixture at the BBC.  Geography is by Yann Arthus-Bertrand….. and there’s more! Simply put, they have the best lecturers in the world and no other university or on-line courses can rival them. What’s good about Netflix Education is that the courses are available for life once they’ve been validated( of course I’ll share my codes with you!).

More specifically these travel and study-on-the-move programmes last a year, the time it takes to get from Paris to China. Students board the train and are sorted according to their level and subject matter. The courses are only available when the train is on the move.  There are stops every two days and at each one they help local communities and teach them about their own culture. The train is solar powered and slow which means I won’t be with you before next year if I leave today. 

 

The same thing exists to get to North America or the islands with Air France which was recently bought by the SNCF and is now known as Mer France.  The airs used to be the most beautiful place on earth,  now it’s the oceans and finally the earth itself. While I write I can’t help thinking that the future resembles the past and my parents keep on going on about it….like a computer bug that won’t go away, it’s the same old story.

 

What do you think my friend? Imagine us! For our arrival we can get a themed Airbnb and go to the USA, Canada or somewhere else without leaving your place in China! They’ve really developed their service over the last few years thanks to Google Street and Google Museum. I’ve heard the apartments are typical of the country you want to go to . We could do a round the world trip together without leaving Beijing every weekend or once a month. I’ve heard a lot about virtual visits,  it’s realistic and amazing. There are screens on the wall to visit the best museums of your chosen city, augmented reality at the windows to make you feel like you’re in Manhattan, the Amazon jungle, furniture decoration….it’s a lot to take in! Local councils are also making this transition by giving access to their databases so that their city can be known around the world.

 

I’m still waiting to read your words on my tablet as I’ve run out of blank pages on my digital Moleskin. I’m using Outlook this time even though I prefer using paper instead of handwriting on a tablet. We can exchange on Facebook Horizon when it suits you and we can discuss all of this. It’s cool to be in a universe that is ours but I’d prefer to see you ‘in the flesh’. I bought the latest Visio-On-The-Go by Samsung which allows you to see who your talking to and show them what you’re seeing at the same time. Would you like to tour my area? It’s pretty simple,  you put on some glasses and a chest harness….. I’d really like to give it a go soon. Let’s do a tour and hook up on WhatsApp for a face-to-face and I hope we can talk about our dancing lessons next week. If not, it’s Friday for Online Dancing.

 

Amicably yours ,

Jean

 

PS : I read a few pages of Jules Vernes this morning. Phileas Fogg arrived this morning in Honk-Kong and it’s impossible to keep you out of my mind and this adventure beckons.

 

Kim Hartmann, Head of Strategic Planning

Key words : branding agency, tomorrow, quarantine, new narratives