3_TRENDS_Vol.3: Rodrigo Turra: Content Therapy, Temporal Intelligence + Futurism Hangover
3_TRENDS is an interview series with the world's leading cultural researchers and thinkers, sharing their favorite overlooked trends.
Rodrigo Turra (RT) is an Amsterdam-based Brazilian, “an overthinker, fascinated by cultural change.” Rodrigo works as a freelance trend forecaster and is the writer of The Nexialist newsletter.
MK: Rodrigo, what’s on your mind?
RT: The excess information and rampant infodemic brings tremendous anxiety and distrust to content consumption. Many of us have no clue how the Attention Economy affects us — and how to reclaim control over our content diet.
Inesplorato sells “Knowledge Curatorship” and helps people and businesses look at available content more critically. Their most fascinating delivery is the curated box: after spending a couple of hours interviewing you about work, life, family, love, and everything in between, the knowledge curators will take around 1.5 months to put a unique wooden box together, finding things that you don't know that you don't know. It contains books you should read, films or documentaries you should watch, articles, magazines, etc. Each piece has a handwritten note in front with explanations and questions on what that piece of content can help you with.
MK: Curation as service only makes sense as we drown in more stuff and therefore more choices, but the personalization element is what stands out to me, elevating this concept. I’m reminded of Curated.com which matches you with an expert in a hobby you’re looking to explore (biking, golfing, etc.) and then that pro will provide tailored product recommendations. There’s something freeing in relying upon the expert who offers peace of mind above all else.
But content therapy or curation’s real value is in not putting on your blinders so you can focus on content which better resonates, but actually taking off those blinders, letting you account for bias, redirecting your attention towards content you typically wouldn’t consume, and ultimately broadening your worldview. The opportunity here is scaling this concept and pushing it towards the masses...
RT: Time has been passing weirdly lately, where a month goes by in a blink, one day seems like two, and our brains instinctively want to skip 2020 when counting back. This spring, WGSN released their Future Consumer 2023 White Paper and highlighted “Time Perspective as a consumer sentiment and driver of change.” Meanwhile, the University of São Paulo announced an online course with the Nagoya University to examine the concept of time in art, science, and philosophy.
Since 2017, Torus Time Lab has been questioning how people understand the concept of time individually and collectively and aims to resynchronize our relationship with time by teaching companies and people about temporal intelligence. Torus' mastermind, Gustavo Nogueira, has a deep passion for studying the theme, allowing him and his network to bring ancestrality and other noneuropean time perspectives to us, questioning temporality and decolonize our minds.
MK: The pandemic hasn’t helped, but we’ve had this unhealthy relationship with time ticking for the last decade. Tech, in part, is to blame. With incessant notifications and pings, we’re conditioned to be on. Always in the now. “The only kind of people who were interrupted this frequently used to be 911 operators and air traffic controllers,” says Rushkoff. And that was only for a couple hours a day. When there’s no beginning, middle, end, or sense of pace, it’s always now. But this “now-ism” isn’t some kind of blissful mindfulness, it’s anxiety-ridden and overwhelming.
It’s a heady topic, but to ground us, there is such an opportunity for a brand to own this white space of time, rekindling a healthier relationship to progress, seasons, moon phases, or near-history. When we think about branding, it’s about: what role does your organization play in culture. We need a lot nowadays, but most provocative, we need a savior of not time itself, but the concept of time.
RT: It's (past the) time to envision and work on futures beyond that blue shiny metallic techno-capitalist scenario. There are ways of looking at emerging technologies with more critical and creative lenses.
Envisioning is an intelligence platform for emerging technology and offers beautiful and interactive data visualization that supports scenario building with a multidisciplinary and increasingly multicultural remote team. You can navigate Envisioning Cities and other projects to see how these visualizations can support foresight and brainstorming. The technologies are even rated according to NASA's TRL score and can be filtered according to the Sustainable Development Goals.
MK: Studying culture and futurism is so difficult in that the line between observer and influencer is non-existent. We become what we forecast to certain degrees. For this reason, representation and inclusivity in these efforts are critical.
So, when we acknowledge the sway that just discussing trends and emergent tech can have, rippling our future — including this very discussion — we’re forced to reckon with responsibility. Here is where the acknowledgement of sustainability goals, or preferred futures is required. It’s not a matter of what the future will look like, but it’s what we want it to look like. We have agency.