Poem for Islands at the Edge
The future has come early for Orkney, a group of islands off the north coast of Scotland. Here, at what is sometimes considered the periphery, is the site of the European Marine Energy Centre and an energy-aware and self-determined way of living that is only imagined as a future elsewhere. This chapter forms a prose-poem, written to evoke the island landscape of light and liminality, and to give voice to the people and places working on the edge–both at the geographic edge and on the leading edge–of energy futures. The poem and subsequent discussion explores the qualities of design and development in Orkney that make such futures: Self-Sufficiency, Modest Innovation, Mutable Futures, and Early Adapters. Woven through the poem is a Science and Technology Studies (STS) approach to the future as situated in social and technical practice, as located and partial. For it seems that islands that were once seen as far from ICT industry innovation, may now be better understood as test sites for collaborative experimentation and different conceptions of design and innovation.
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