The third exercise of Practical Utopia was with Aricoco and her curious prompts. These prompts created a new – social insect – way of experiencing your otherwise regular day. She sent tasks throughout the day with informative details about social insects thus creating a inspirational frame for the tasks.

First participants were encouraged to take a different route as “ants colonies rely heavily on the random interactions of ants exploring a given space without any predefined orders… Without those haphazard encounters, the colony wouldn’t be capable of stumbling across new food sources or of adapting to new environmental conditions.” (Steve Johnson, Emergence p.78)

The next task paid attention to the patterns as the ants “rely heavily on patterns in the semiochemicals they detect… Smelling the pheromones of a single ant means little, but smelling the pheromones of fifty foragers in the space of an hour imparts information about the global state of the colony.” (Steve Johnson, Emergence p.79)

The day continued with new tasks that were sent throughout the day transforming daily routines such as lunch into ant-like activities such as foraging and smelling. Additionally, some of the tasks were showing the positive side of usually negatively seen behaviour such as ignorance or laziness.

The day ended with a debriefing meet up in the Black Ant with great food, drinks, and company.

For more information about social insects you can find from the bibliography she was using for the exercise:
– Steven Johnson, Emergence; 78-79 (2001)
– Bert Hölldobler and Edward O. Wilson, Superorganism; 84, 179 (2009)
– Qian Sun, Kenneth F. Haynes, Xuguo Zhou Cannibalism or burial: undertaking behavior depends on the change of death cues in termites (2016) (For more information on Qian Sun’s research, visit: http://qsunresearch.weebly.com, and Hasegawa E. et al. Lazy workers are necessary for long-term sustainability in insect societies. Sci. Rep. 6, doi: 10.1038/srep20846 (2016)) https://www.nature.com/articles/srep20846/
– Eisuke Hasegawa, Hatarakanai ari ni igi ga aru (Japanese) (2010)
– Aniek Ivans http://www.aniek.nyc (Her PHD thesis can be found here:http://www.rug.nl/research/gelifes/tres/publications/_pdf/thesis_ivens_12.pdf)

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