My SciFiStory

Academic Background

The ‘the exquisite corpse’  concept was drawn to the attention of the Science Fiction Prototyping community by a Harvard University graduate, Christine Cynn, a renowned documentary filmmaker who attended one an early Creative Science workshop (CS’11) and described an idea she called ‘The Forest of Stories’. Later she moved the idea forward through an online project about the life of a future woman called X, who she imagined would be born in 2045 (information on her project can be found at Vimeo, ScienceFuture, and XquisiteFuture. Christine Cynn’s ideas build on an earlier technique from the surrealists movement called the ‘exquisite cadaver’  (exquisite corpse) as a means of integrating collages created by multiple individuals into a single novel artefact. This technique was used to create a popular table-top game called ‘consequences’ (which is still marketed).  The MyScifiStory.Com work draws directly on the ‘exquisite corpse’ as a model to support creative collaboration.

A useful description of these ideas was provided by Carrie Lane and Juliette Solis in their 2017 paper “A Study of Digital Science Fiction Prototyping in an Elementary School Setting” which we encourage you to read.  In brief, Carrie Lane and Juliette Solis were students at the School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University who, as part of a Master of Education: Learning Design and Technology (and under the supervision of Prof Minjuan Wang),  undertook a project that was specified and supported by the Creative Science Foundation which investigated how ‘science fiction-prototyping‘, ‘the exquisite corpse‘ and ‘crowdsourcing‘ could be combined to create a new approach to engaging elementary school children in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) by wrapping STEM in an imaginative story-telling format. They created a web-based mockup to prototype their ideas using gravity as the science focus. Later another master’s student, Crystal Monson, at the same San-Diego school extended the range of STEM topics.

Finally the term ‘crowdsourcing‘ was coined in 2005 by Jeff Howe and Mark Robinson (editors at Wired) to describe how businesses were using the Internet to outsource work to the crowd (casual internet based workers). However, it quickly found itself being used in a broader sense, to describe an online production model enabling tasks, beyond the means of individuals, to be achieved through division and distribution of small portions to a large community of people.

More recently, at the University of Essex an MSc student, Mona Almalki  created a simple (alpha) online version of MySciFiStory collaborative writing website (the details of which were published in her 2019 master’s thesis entitled “Innovating the future through a collaborative story-telling website“). This provided a simple platform which she used to explore the value of this tool in inspiring pre-university children to study STEM (and acquire creative thinking skills, story-writing skills and an understanding of ideation techniques, such as  brainstorming).