Fables for Imagining

Fables are one of humanity’s oldest forms of oral and written storytelling; building tales of moral inquiry and caution, told through archetypal characters, as ways of building shared wisdom, interrogating power relations, and navigating complex societal roles and responsibilities.
Fables for Imagining is a research project that sets out to explore how storytelling through fables can be used to interrogate our contemporary collective behaviours and modes of existence with a specific focus on questions of civility in a post-digital world.
Responding to the impacts of accelerating technology, connectivity, and a rapidly changing social environment, this project invites participants to develop a series of techno-social fables designed to draw out the radical ways digital technologies are reshaping our world, while building a collective imagination for our future selves and society.

Secondary Research

As a research assistant on this project, a huge part of my work was collecting fables from all over the world.

As we worked through synthesizing our research, we thought about how best to create an opportunity for fables to intersect our digital age. As this project happened between 2020 and 2021, our outcome had to happen online, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

For this reason, and because of the visual nature of storytelling, we though it best to experiment with creating a card-based workshop.
printed circuit board
Fable card – back
William Morris Lettering
Fable card – front
Animal card – back

Creating Cards

Inspired by both William Morris’ woodblock prints, and the intricacy of circuit boards, I created a card style that reflected bringing old stories to new worlds.
Animal card – front

The Workshop

Select a platform card and explore it’s meanings and impacts.
Select two archetype cards and explore their symbolisms.
Using the playboard as a guide, re-write your chosen fable as an allegorical story in response to your platform card.
Find the Fables that correspond with chosen archetype cards. Select one fable that aligns with your platform card.


Though this workshop is the first of many future iterations, we found that the concept of fables are mappable onto current day contexts.

We believe that by addressing the digital age through storytelling, a reshaping our casual behaviours towards technology is possible.
With storytelling, discussions around complex techno-social issues became accessible. Participants understood the cautionary techno-fables easily and enjoyed constructing, telling, and listening to the stories.

This project was possible through the
ECUAD Defamiliarization Lab.

Dr. Gillian Russell (SFU), Craig Badke (ECUAD), Dr. Frederik Lesage (SFU)

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