VR Canvases and Digital Friendships — Imagining Technology One Year after Lockdown.

Written by Dr. Helen Marshall and Associate Professor Kim Wilkins

 WISH YOU WERE HERE! Postcards from future Queensland is a community outreach project that encourages young Queenslanders to imagine the Covid-19 crisis as a turning point on the way to a better future world. Over the past month we have invited students from primary schools, high school and universities across the state to dream about life after lockdown. How will your communities come together? What new technologies could shape your lives?

In our second challenge, we challenged you to write about unwrapping some fabulous new device that will change the way we live a year after lockdown. Dr Helen Marshall suggested you start by thinking about how your life has shifted in these past few months. What do you wish you could do better? What are you missing? What could help your family, your friends, and your community? The responses we got from you were inspiring! Through your eyes we got to see a future in which friends can connect instantly with the click of a button to hang out and create new memories. (Yeah, we’re really missing our friends too—and we would love one of the VR headsets so we could feel better connected to our loved ones across the globe!)

You thought of so many different things you wanted to change in the future. Juliette from Holland Park imagined a Calmer which could help with people struggling with anxiety and uncertainty. We also witnessed robot dogs, teleportation machines (much comfier than those cramped airline seats!), instant healers, digital assistants who can help out with your homework, and even a machine that judges your size perfectly so you can shop for clothes online.

Courtney, a grade twelve student from Toowomba, captured the sense of how technologies might inspire a vision of a better world around us—even if we aren’t quite there yet.

The cool summer breeze lured her into the street where the grass, green and lush, sunk under her feet and tickled her toes. The uniform mumbling of ‘good afternoon’ between passers-by echoed past in the gentle wind. She smiled at the man across the street watering an assortment of peach, coral and red roses. She watched as the sun began its descent below the horizon, pinks and oranges spewed across the sky as if deliberately and perfectly painted. As the golden hues settled over suburbia, everyone turned to watch the sunset in awe. With one final breath in, the girl sighed and removed the mysterious goggles, carefully placing them back where they belonged. She looked hopefully toward the sky; dull and brown as if too many colours had been mixed together. Dead rose petals brushed her skin as they glided in the howling wind. The street was deserted and eerily quiet. She looked at the list of instructions attached to the goggles. The girl knew that with the right acrylics, she could facilitate the change Australia needed and paint the canvas of the future in vibrance.

We loved how she drew on the lessons from Week 1 and teased our senses with gorgeous colours and rich details. It was lovely to see a vision of the world where art can inspire us to move forward.

Grace from Harristown showed a future that promises new possibilities while also stirring up fears about friends losing touch as they graduate. But in her imagination some upgraded versions of the technologies many of us have started using could actually help with that scary, exciting stage of life!

A loud knock vibrates the trees above my house, sending leaves plummeting down like the tremble of hail on a tin roof on a stormy night. Opening my eyes to the harsh reality of loneliness as high school ended, and my friends have moved to different continents and the university futures that I imagined. In one slow movement, my feet hit the floor as the journey to the door begins. I open it to find a dull brown box that sparks a moment of curiosity and mystery. As the pressure in the box is released, a load of laughter and joy escapes a microscopic square of glass filled with letters all aligning a single phrase with emojis expressing your emotions. ZAP! A spark flies through my spine, a glitch in the system leading me into a room exploding with laughter, imagination, and life. A feeling of excitement and longing reappeared in my life after a year of isolation, allowing virtual interaction with friends on different continents, interacting through live board games, watching movies together. I never thought unwrapping a dull package would change my life forever. Now distance is no barrier for friendship.

You can read our favourite submissions exploring the technologies of future Queensland following our second challenge.

Remember, you can still join our project or incorporate it into your own classroom. We have just released a new writing lesson exploring the future two years after the end of lockdown as we invite you to imagine a first date in this strange, new world! Just visit our website so you can learn how to write your own story of a better, future Queensland.

WISH YOU WERE HERE! Postcards from future Queensland is an initiative run by The University of Queensland, with support from UQ's School of Communication and Arts, Centre for Critical and Creative Writing, AustLit and Corella Press.

Last updated:
21 May 2020