Expressions of public discontent are traditionally considered one of the key elements of performing citizenship. This article explores the potential futures of technologically augmented discontent and the implications these future scenarios might have for civil society as a source of alternative voices on key social issues and civic rights.
Though there are many issues at stake for civil society actors participating in social protest, I focus on the issue of visibility of discontent and the role of future technologies, such as drone imaging, AR, VR, holographic technology and AI, in making social protest more or less visible.
I conceptualise the future potentialities of technologically augmented protest visibility through the prism of technological affordances theory. Affordances refer to the potential opportunities or limitations of action that emerge at the nexus of actor intentions, technological capabilities and the environment in which they interact. Such a context-dependent approach is useful in horizon scanning as it allows to account for a number of potential scenarios and to speculate how each may shape the value and impact of certain technological interventions for particular civic publics.