What is the new normal? Something has shifted, it seems. We are making new worlds faster than we can keep track of them, and the pace is unlikely to slow. If our technologies have advanced beyond our ability to conceptualize their implications, such gaps can be perilous. In response, one impulse is to pull the emergency brake and try to put all the genies back in their bottles. But this is ill-advised (and hopeless). Instead, it is better to invest in emergence, in contingency; to map the new normal for what it is, and to shape it towards what it should be. Part manifesto and part syllabus, this essay by design theorist Benjamin H. Bratton describes his vision for how design should approach and intervene in the new normal, and what kinds of cities we should be planning for now. Bratton is the Programme Director of Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture, and Design in Moscow, a resilient beacon of generous futurism at a time and place at the centre of contemporary twists and turns. The essay outlines The New Normal post-graduate think-tank at Strelka, which brings together architects, programmers, interaction designers, game designers, artists, philosophers, filmmakers, novelists, economists, and ‘free-range’ computer scientists. They study with Keller Easterling, Lev Manovich, Metahaven (Vinca Kruk and Daniel Van Der Velden), Casey Reas, Liam Young, and many others.

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