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Lab Diary #2 – Hypothesis


As described in our introduction, this lab diary reports on our journey towards economic horizons still unknown to man. As we move forward, they will gradually unfold. Unlikely to reveal themselves completely before our 2020 Economia-the-limited-edition exploration ends. But most likely providing us with sufficient insights to have the motivation and courage to keep going.

In the first lab diary, we reflect on a potential methodology that might be emerging. In this second lab diary, it looks as if one or more hypotheses are coming in sight.

We do this by reflecting back on the talks and contributions that we came across so far:

  1. RARARA_LALALAB #1: a dialogue between Olga Mink, Director at Baltan Laboratories, and Reon Brand, Senior Director Foresight and Socio-cultural trends at Philips Design.
  2. ECO Coin: a talk by Lewis Just, co-founder of this alternative currency that is designed to incentivize actions that are good for the environment.
  3. Capitalism after the Coronavirus: keynote by Paul Mason British journalist and writer of the book Post Capitalism (2015).
  4. How I learned to stop worrying and love growth: a performative talk by Artist and Lecturer Arne Hendriks and Professor Sustainable Strategy & Innovation Godelieve Spaas.
  5. How to win trust in stormy weather: a lecture by Rotterdam-based design researcher Gijs de Boer.
  6. Declaration. (the universal one): a keynote by Dutch artist TINKEBELL.
  7. Co-emerging economies: a lecture by Reon Brand, Senior Director Foresight and Socio-cultural trends at Philips Design.
  8. The two-day online conference linked to this Economia Festival
  9. Can the commons save civilization?: Keynote by Michel Bauwens, Founder of the P2P Foundation.

Recap of the methodology

The essentials of our methodology can be summarized in one quote and one image.

“The aim is not to come to an absolute statement; it is to give tools to get a complete picture.”
Godelieve Spaas

What we are aiming for, is the construction of a new narrative for our economic future. To do so, we explore the narratives within each Economia contribution and break those down into their constructional elements. Leaving us with a bag full of seemingly random ideas and insights, we can then pick from in an attempt to construct our own narrative.


For a more elaborate description of our methodology, we refer to the first lab diary.

Prototyping path towards one or more hypotheses

In scientific research, the researcher is expected to start from one or more hypotheses before engaging in experiments to confirm or refute them. In our journey, we pursue a track that is more inspired by artistic research, in which the hypothesis or hypotheses might or might not reveal itself throughout the process. And we have learned from design thinking theories that design by prototyping can be a very rewarding way forward as well. So, concluding in hindsight, that’s what we did since our previous lab report: a combination of artistic research and prototyping which resulted in what might be one or more hypotheses and an idea in which direction to continue our journey.

Step 1 – how the format came about:

As mentioned in the recap of our methodology, we are constructing a narrative from the constructional elements of other narratives. As it happened, for the online Economia conference, a summary was needed to get the conference speakers up to speed with the status of our insights in the lab.

Rather than explaining them what each of the Festival keynotes and lecturers have learned us (see for example the extensive bullet lists in lab report 1), the idea came up to make a compilation video with the most memorable elements we had seen so far.

Step 2 – construction of the prototype:
  • 2a – Select memorable quotes: Our time to make the compilation was limited and as a result, our approach was quite random. Based on our memory, we selected one to five fragments from each talk, making sure that each of the speakers was more or less equally represented in the compilation. As a result, we ended up with around 12 minutes of video.
  • 2b – Stay within specs: The twelve minutes of video would have been too long for the specifications allowed within our conference introduction. So, we downselected the number of fragments, leaving 1) only those that stood out the most, while 2) still maintaining a fair balance between each of the speakers. This resulted in an acceptable six-minute line up of fragments.
  • 2c – Reshuffle: As a final step, we reshuffled the fragments that remained. Whereas they were first in the order of appearance of the lectures within the festival, we made sure there was some variation in sequence. As an example, we noticed we had five small fragments from one speaker, while having two of another speaker. So the five were spread out through the compilation and where we had two, we put one in the first half of the compilation and one in the second. The result in the prototype you can see at the bottom of this lab diary. You can watch it first and come back to this text, or first read further through our step-wise analysis and then watch the prototype.
Step 3 – surprising insights

!Spoiler alert! If you don’t want to bias your first perception of our prototype, watch the video below and continue reading afterwards.

When we watched the video we finally came up with after the process described in step 2, to our own surprise it occurred to us that unintentionally we actually created a rather comprehensive narrative through the compilation. Which was confirmed by the people that first saw it and testified they assumed the fragments had been edited in a deliberate way to construct such narrative.

Step 4 – Towards one or more hypotheses

As  conclusion of this second lab diary, we observe that from our latest developments, we more or less accidentally ended up gathering preliminary ‘evidence’ of our opening statement: “construct a new narrative from the collected building blocks”.

Which made the following main hypothesis and several sub-hypotheses pop up in our mind:

  • Does a comprehensive narrative emerge from every (random) combination of fragments?
    • If so: what is the reason for this? (The quality of the initial contributions, the way they are presented, the fact that they are already well-curated according to topic…)?
    • If not: what could be key ingredients resulting in the emergence (or not) of a comprehensive narrative? (E.g. ‘level of randomness’, the signature of the person making the initial selection, the stepwise approach from initial fragment selection to final prototype…)?
Step 5 – The next step into our journey

Based on these insights and hypotheses, our intuition tells us to now go and prototype a bit more. So in the coming period, you can expect a number of prototype compilations as the outcome of our further experiments. For example: “what happens if from each contribution we select the last two minutes and compile them into a new video?” etc.

The prototype(s)

Enjoy our first prototype and stay tuned for more of our experimentations. Also: do not hesitate to start experimenting yourself. We would be very enthusiastic to see your narratives (or attempts thereof) as well.

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