Introductionary chapter to Wood, J., (2007), “Designing for Micro‐utopias; thinking beyond the possible”, Ashgate, UK, ISBN 0‐7546‐4608‐4

"One of them is by developing a new kind of democratic system that depends less on representation and more on a distributed mode of actions and responses. Our ‘democratic’ society has become so accustomed to monarchies and hierarchies that the word ‘heterarchy’ - a network of equals – is seldom used in everyday conversation. One of the problems of mainstream democracy is that it depends heavily on choice and delegation, rather than on shared imagination, local involvement, and emerging consensus."

"In 2001, I coined the term 'Attainable Utopias' in order to challenge the pragmatism of mainstream politics, bureaucracy and commerce. It is also the name of our virtual 'Think Tank' (The AU Net) that I co-founded with Andrew Carmichael (Director of the Creative Lewisham Agency). A year into the new millennium we wondered why humanity had failed to create a new 'vision'. Why, despite unparalleled and increasing access to resources, knowledge, and technology, had we become so pessimistic and cynical? Our conclusion was that whilst, as voters and consumers, we have become experts at choosing and complaining, we have forgotten how to envisage what we really want. Without new dreams humanity will become extinct."

"However, whilst utopia may be neither attainable nor desirable, a more interdependent network of 'micro-utopias' (i.e. brief, or local utopias) might be both helpful and feasible."

"The first barrier to ‘micro-utopias’ is neither technological nor political; it is psychological. Ultimately, if we are to be ambitious there is no logical reason why we should not be able to design miracles, assuming we apply a probabilistic definition of miracles. If you search for a miracle you will reduce your chances of success by believing it to be impossible or unreachable. In this way, it is possible to undermine David Hume’s (1711-1776) claim that miracles do not exist (1748). Chapter 7 will argue that most of us may find ourselves in close proximity to an extremely low probability event about once or twice a month. However, this kind of event is so trivial or marginal that we might easily overlook it. Mapping the boundaries between the ‘thinkable’ and the ‘unthinkable’ will be an important task for ‘micro-utopians’. Generally speaking, for human beings, the ‘unthinkable’ is synonymous with the ‘unattainable’. This suggests that, merely by moving some issues from the category of ‘unthinkable’ to ‘thinkable’ we could achieve what was hitherto seen as ‘impossible’. All of these terms are, to some extent, subject to change, adaptation, and innovation. It is wise to dream beyond what we currently believe to be attainable. Once we have done so, the next step is to co-imagine the dream in a more shareable form. This means exchanging dreams and seeing how they can be conjoined to enhance one another. The third step is to check that we really want what we have dreamed. The fourth step is to see how much of the dream is attainable. The fifth step is to share the task of producing and sharing the dream. If enough people try to connect their 'micro-utopias' together it may be possible to achieve a global 'synergy of synergies' (Fuller, 1975). I will expand this idea in Chapter 8. First I shall briefly outline some of the dystopian aspects of the world that need to be addressed if the quest for micro-utopias is to be successful."