Anthony Zacharzewski hopes that Untitled will be a place where to reimagine democracy. What if a renewed participatory system allowed for a better inclusion of civilians?

Anthony Zacharzewski @anthonyzach
Founder and president of The Democratic Society,
A non-profit organization focusing on civic participation and new models of governance,


What could be reimagined now?

Thanks to the profound experience in the political and administrative fields, Anthony decided to found the organization with the aim of imagining a new type of democracy, which may lie in unusual places or is not connected to the classic 19th century schemes. To achieve this, he believes it is important to re-design the timing of participation within contemporary democracies, which often offer political elections every few years or online consultations in rare events (such as referendums).

Examples of recent system changes can be found in Belgium, where some administrative areas have set up assemblies for the representatives to meet four times a year, in order to discuss and better understand the problems affecting those regions. In a similar way, but on a different scale, Poland operates at city level. While we are still in the early days, it is a sign that democracies are at the beginning of a systematic change, which will inevitably force them to honor the pacts made for decarbonization.

What could the new democracies look like in ten years’ time?

Anthony’s hope is that issues such as climate change will not remain just temporary trends, but will increasingly include a human dimension, thanks to a renewed participatory system at the civil level. Therefore it is necessary to understand how to bring democracies closer to people’s everyday life by setting up new organizations, which promote collaborative and participatory actions within the population and its representatives. In the next ten years, it is expected and hoped that these ways of managing local communities will be consolidated and rooted in other global democracies as well. For example extra-European countries, such as African governments, which have seen fast growth in the last decade and offer tremendous potential.

Image: Anthony Zacharzewski,

Social media has reshaped forever the way we communicate and get information. Nevertheless, the actions of the big companies behind them often raise a lot of criticism: what if social media belonged to the people?


Elina Iida Sofia Hirvonen @interneiti
Freelance journalist, for example
for Ylioppilaslehti, Helsingin Sanomat and Image.


What could be reimagined within the social media world?

Elina criticizes the entrepreneurial side of it, wishing that these platforms could belong to the people and not to companies: the current structure influences how information is spread among the population and does not foster equality. Current social media structures and algorithms are making profit out of people’s most intimate feelings and experiences, and it’s creating conflicts and affecting the media as well. 

How would Untitled help to develop your vision?

Elina sees Untitled as an opportunity to discuss how the ideal social network should be built, debating on which instruments would be necessary to undertake challenges such as ensuring privacy for all the users.

Who needs to join the Alliance to make this envision true?

Involving informatic experts for consultancy would allow to realise the technical side of the idea.

Image: Elina Iida Sofia Hirvonen, @interneiti Instagram

Nadia EL-Imam of Edgeryders thinks that part of the issue of institutions not being able to navigate the turmoils, like pandemic and climate crisis, is the excessive reliance on small groups of experts to solve messy interconnected problems. 

Nadia EL-Imam @edgeryders
Co-founder of Edgeryders




Why are you participating in Untitled?

My own motivation for getting involved in this initiative is having seen how quickly things fall apart during times of war, even in affluent, seemingly stable societies. Going from buying our groceries in a posh shop the one day to standing in bread lines the next because supply chains were cut off.

It happens so very quickly and the true costs of the damage plays out on so many different levels.

There are signs this understanding has started to “land” as a consequence of the ongoing pandemic.

During the first phases, institutions and companies all over the world were taken by surprise, unable to quickly adapt to the new reality. This does not bode well for our ability to navigate the turmoil that is sure to accompany climate crisis, ecosystems stress, geopolitical hostilities. Why?

I believe part of the issue is an excessive reliance on small groups of experts to solve messy interconnected problems – which is like expecting a neuron trying to fix things that exist at the level of the brain. Another is an impulse to behave as though the world around us can be tamed to obediently fit into neat boxes and processes of our design. And where it does not, attempt to make it so. When the models break, we are at a loss for how to move through the world in new ways.

My own family managed to weather the storm in no small part because we were embedded in a huge network of diasporas that spanned the globe. They are highly diverse in the sense that they deploy a broad range of approaches to meeting material, social and existential needs.

This is something I could contribute to the gathering and what comes after.

What could be reimagined now?

The community and organisation I helped build, Edgeryders, is working to extend the space of economic models that are conceivable and deployable to build a successful, fair civilisation, while preserving the planet’s ecological balance. Inspired by science fiction, we nurture and support new, radical ways to think about the economy and economic policy.

Conceivable: We are using techniques from modelling, speculative fiction, economic history, anthropology and design to broaden the space of “conceivable economies.”

Deployable: There’s already a “mutant population” of economic agents that operate in the current economy, while aspiring to a more long-termism one. Edgeryders has been learning from these agents, in order to come up with policies to thrive and grow further.

See Edgeryders on video.

Photos: Nadia EL-Imam

Imagining new ways of living through imaginaries and mental models – that is what Dan Lockton focuses on in his work. Imaginaries Lab led by Dan is one of the founding members of Untitled.

Dan Lockton @danlockton @imaginari_es
Interaction designer, Assistant Professor, Future Everyday, at TU Eindhoven’s Industrial Design department. Dan has previously worked at the Royal College of Art (UK) and Carnegie Mellon University (US).

What could be reimagined now?

Dan’s aim is to experiment with alternative ways of life and other life models. Design methodologies are involved in analyzing the correlations between social and environmental benefits. This can be done by defining connections between varied fields such as behavioral and decisional sciences, or human-computer interaction and cybernetics.
How can we live in a more sustainable way? Which lifestyle patterns impact our environment the least and which ones offer a potential solution?

How could we experiment with alternative life models?

The challenge here is to turn alternative futures into tangible realities, something that does not yet exist but is treated as if it were already among us. Potentially, “living laboratories” could be created where communities of people are immersed into different realities, worlds with rules and structures different from those we are used to. By doing so, it is possible to closely observe the alternative models proposed, making them directly accessible to people.

How do you imagine the “living laboratories” will be in ten years’ time?

To date, we’ve seen this kind of experimentation only at a mere technological level, for example within our homes with IoT and smart homes. But if the experimentation was conducted within “living labs” instead, shifting the focus at a social level, the scale could be extended, for example, to entire districts within cities. The “labs” could actually be visited and experienced by communities of people, to better understand their flaws and strengths. Social models are often discussed at a national and administrative level but appear vague and evanescent at a practical level. For this reason, they are perceived by people as distant, both temporally and mentally. Therefore concretizing solutions and allowing people to make their contribution in a participatory way could fill this gap.

Image: Dan Lockton,

Maisa Immonen is a Helsinki-based 3D artist and visualist. In her art she creates characters and scenarios, through which she explores emotions and identities. Her interests include the themes of shame and self-assurance and how these are associated with the representation of self and performativeness.
Maisa draws inspiration from vibrant colors and organic textures. She uses 3D technology to illustrate the shapes and forms that are created by the uncontrollable force of nature.

Maisa was the designer of the fantastic filters we used to able participants and hosts to ‘dress-up’ virtually during Untitled  festival 2020.

Associate creates an experimental and poetic digital documentation from the various discussions that take place within the Untitled events. Associate is at the same time an independent artwork and experimental documentation of the festival and the online events. 

The recorded discussions in Untitled meetings and festival events are processed through a machine learning algorithm. This process picks up parts of sentences and individual words that accumulate and mix in the ever increasing database. The algorithm forms new connections between various textual elements based on machine learning models that analyse the context and statistical properties of individual words and phrases.

The machine learning model aims to bring light to emerging and new connections between textual nodes, and reflect on various alternative meanings and paths derived from the language used within Untitled discussions.

Images: Otso Havanto / Associate.

Privacy and anonymisation of data is a core function of the artwork. All the conversations recorded in Untitled events that are used for Associate, are processed in a way that it is impossible to identify an individual speaker.

The first version of the artwork is displayed online on its own website. This version creates new textual interpretation clusters and poetic variations from the Untitled discussions, ultimately aiming to foster the creation of Untitled’s own unique discourse engine. 

Associate uses a statistical machine learning model that has been trained by the Common Crawl dataset, and by the OntoNotes source material from the University of Pennsylvania. The work accumulates ever expanding textual material from the Untitled discussions and produces novel statistical vectors between the various meanings of words and concepts. Over time the work trains a model that is unique to the language used by the Untitled community and platform.

The artwork aims to encourage us to use big data as a tool and resource for the various communities, movements, and other non-commercial organizations, that aim to create a more just and fair future society for all.

The artwork can be found on the following link:

Reflections after the first gathering of Untitled Alliance in June 2020: a quest for a new narrative

Now that the reactions to the pandemic are showing (very different kinds of) results and the magnitude of the economic shock that follows is revealing, one thing is clear: The hegemonic narrative of the past 40 years is not coming back. 

The reflections of the Untitled community reveal an eagerness to go deeper to the change at hand, to start exploring new ways of living, producing and caring and to do it at a scale unforeseen for our generation.

We seem to agree that “the old world has been dying” even before covid as we have witnessed the “morbid symptoms” around us. Now the question is how “the new world” could be born. 

The urge to be more precise and to implement gives a lot of hope. We want to go deeper, faster and challenge the current narratives of transformation. This post outlines what we learned from the Reimagine the Agenda online gathering held 11–12 June 2020 and from the discussions with Untitled members.

The diversity of reactions to the methods used in the online gathering was great: some thought they were eye-opening, some liked the way of getting to know each other, many wanted a more freeform way of discussing or to go into practice already. 

We want to stress the uniqueness of what we have together founded. Especially its time frame: we have initiated a ten-year process, so let’s value that with giving ourselves time to figure out what is that we are aligning for. 

For now it is easier to speak what we believe the Untitled narrative is not about:

  • Firstly it is not the “green reform” narrative. The one that believes our institutions do not really need to be reimagined nor replaced. We just need better leaders to make better – more green and social  – decisions. This narrative enforces the current institutions, current mandates, current agencies.
  • Untitled is not about the tech solutions narrative either. The one where exponential technology solves wicked problems. Where either Silicon Valley or China will cook up unstoppable technologies that will replace old ones, take emissions out of the economy, and by doing so create immense amounts of wealth and spread unforeseen tools available for everyone to use. 
  • It is not a narrative about the imminent collapse or imminent progress: The deep adaptation narrative that readies us for the time after the collapse. Or the deep enlightenment narrative that pulls out of today only to see that in the long run progress is unstoppable. 
  • We are not propagating the mass movements narrative, where (young) masses take the streets and put pressure (and eventually spread fear) among the elites. 
  • Finally, Untitled is not seeking refuge through developing the personal spiritual sphere alone. According to this narrative where we must first develop our inner worlds, only then we are to be able to take on the material world. 

What is wrong with these narratives? Quite simply they don’t describe enough change. They give very little room for genuine development of human agency, our ability to imagine new institutions and ways of living and our courage and curiosity to go about experimenting with what we imagine. Most of them also hide the tensions that emerge with the old and the new, the new voices that can contribute hugely to guiding the transformation to the right direction. To avoid creating a dystopia we need to reflect deeply on what is the way of “being” of human beings we wish to see, and enquire on what are the things we want to depart from.

Untitled is a ten-year process of unfolding the new world. An experiment in creating an alternative narrative of the metamorphosis we are in. We believe that a genuinely new story can emerge through an unlikely alliance deciding to come together to imagine new concepts, making them tangible and learning from them through real world experiments.

The fresh Co-creation Manual for the Untitled Festival enables to start contributing to the community right now. Participants can set up conversations, design experiment workshops as well as help people to transcend their everyday perspective through art and imagination interventions. Each member of the alliance is expected to contribute to one or more of these.  

We won’t reach perhaps yet as developed a narrative as the ones listed above, but it will be a start. We believe strongly that at this moment in history requires a forum for a self enforcing and widening loop of imagination and experimentation. Viewed in this way, future is a colouring book, with no colours, just rough outlines. 

We are not in a hurry. We are starting a ten year process. In that time we believe a  genuinely new narrative of the development of humanity can be unfolded.


We claim that there is an urgent need for inclusive and climate-positive growth, which in turn gives us an opportunity to reimagine sustainability and the property industry. 

The real estate industry has for decades known the underlying murky challenges related to it, but has ignored or undermined the issues. Now, the growing power within the youth is challenging the laissez-faire attitude. This decade is the decade of action.

Ylva focuses on real estate and financial investments along with the hotel and restaurant sector. We have co-founded Untitled, not to pat each other on the back for being progressive, but to take on the real issues we have in Helsinki and in other urban areas around the world, such as segregation or challenges in sustainability.

We want to challenge ourselves on what the sustainable city of tomorrow would actually mean. We want to reimagine and experiment on what the world’s most sustainable building would be like. What would a building that doesn’t just minimize its negative impact but has a positive impact on its environment, the communities, the city and even the whole property industry be like? What would it take to move from the extractive property industry to the regenerative city?

We are a company owned by the Student Union of the University of Helsinki. Our standing between private and public actors, as well as young people and the academic world makes these questions and the answers to them essential to us. Will you join us in answering them at Untitled Festival 2020?

Antti Kerppola, CEO 

Jannica Aalto, Marketing and Communications Director

Ylva’s goal is to build the Helsinki of the future. The Helsinki of the future is an international and sustainable city of science and economy. Our business operations focus on the real estate and restaurant industries. Our owners are the students of the Student Union of the University of Helsinki. Ylva has been part of Helsinki’s cityscape for 150 years and our business operations focus on long-term planning.

Photo: Juha Jernvall, CC BY 4.0,

Cover of Imaginary Crisis paper

We are in the midst of a very urgent, real, global and deadly crisis. But as the Covid-19 crisis hopefully comes slowly under control, we ought to attend to a very different kind of crisis, and one which is scarcely visible: the deteriorating state of our shared social imagination. That is the subject of Geoff Mulgan’s new paper.

Professor Geoff Mulgan, a pivotal person in the story of starting Untitled, claims that the world faces a deficit of social imagination. We find it easy to imagine apocalypse and disaster; or to imagine new generations of technology. But we find it much harder than in the past to imagine a better society a generation or more into the future.

Some fields are good at thinking far into the future – business invests heavily in visions of future smart homes, smart cities or health. Fiction is adept at exploring the future boundaries of humans and technology. Mainstream culture finds it easy to imagine apocalypses – what would happen if temperatures rose 4 or 5 degrees or AI enslaved humans or even worse pandemics became the norm?

But we struggle to imagine positive alternatives: what our care or education systems, welfare, workplaces, democracy or neighbourhoods might be like in 30-40 years. And we appear to be worse at doing this than in the past.

There are many possible reasons for this decline; loss of confidence in progress and grand narratives; declining imaginative capacity; slowing down of innovation. Key institutions – universities, political parties and think tanks – have for different reasons vacated this space. The decline of imagination matters because societies need a wide range of ideas and options to help them adjust, particularly to big challenges like climate change and ageing.

Making sense of social imagination

Social imagination has a long and fascinating history, from utopias to political programmes, model communities to generative ideas and fictions which fuelled our ability to understand and then shape human progress.

There are many methods available which can be used to stimulate imagination – sparking creativity or cultivating estrangement from dominant beliefs. The most interesting social imagination is often dialectical in that it simultaneously goes with, and against, the grain of historical trends.

To fuel social imagination we need to engage the many institutions that could be supporting it, but don’t now: research funders; foundations; universities and governments. And we need to remember the promise of reviving shared social imagination: that communities can once again become heroes in their own history rather than only observers.

So what can be done to address this gap? This is a huge task, involving many people, organisations and methods. In his fresh paper, Geoff Mulgan sets out thoughts on the what, the how and the who.

Spark your social imagination and download the full paper or watch Geoff introduce it at the first ever Untitled Imaginary Society meet up.  


When we built the UNTITLED alliance, we were asking people to reimagine what a fundamentally different society could look like. At the time that was a big ask. Today it seems like one of the most pressing questions in the world.

Amidst near zero visibility some patterns are emerging. One of the most intriguing is the idea of leaping forward, instead of bouncing back. As a response to the pandemic we are launching Untitled immediately and open-sourcing our methods. In this we need your help.

To quickly respond to the increased need for reimagining the global agenda we will step up our game now by:

  • Launching Untitled imaginary Society where we will  further develop tools and practices for social imagination to be open sourced and shared.
  • Setting up two both online and offline events for reimagining society and setting the agenda of the most crucial experiments:  from April – June we shall be hosting bi-monthly online forums to discuss key issues around social imagination, 11-12 June we shall set out The Agenda for coming year via online forums, and in 17-18 September we shall have our in-person Untitled Festival!
  • Seeking new funding for initiating transformative experiments and developing open source methods for reimagining the society
  • Setting up a portfolio of the most crucial experiments to be undertaken in the next ten years to create the next normal.