Tim Mack's blog

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Telling Stories with Data

Tim Mack

Tim Mack

Organizations use scenarios to help understand a wide range of trends, but the process of moving from data collection and analysis to communication via storytelling may result in the loss of consistency and information. A review by Timothy C. Mack

Book Review: The Future

Tim Mack

Tim Mack

Written by an outsider to the foresight community, an MIT Professor of Digital Media, The Future takes a very interesting approach to its subject. While author Nick Montfort considers the works of futurists, he also examines the works of artists, inventors, and designers and how they have imagined the future. Montfort takes a broad view of the future, but one skeptical of the forecasting mode as the only pathway to visioning. Instead, he examines an increasingly popular approach to social, economic, and political change—i.e., what he (and others) have called future making.

Utopia Revisited

Tim Mack

Tim Mack

Book review by Timothy C. Mack. When Verso Books in London released a new edition of More’s Utopia nearly 500 years after its first publication, it produced a bit of cultural shock. For many, the term utopia has come into some disrepute as a reactionary or even a delusional social goal, while among others, especially the technocracy of Silicon Valley, it is viewed as just another easily achieved social building project—all it would take is their unlimited funds.

VR and AI Development

Tim Mack

Tim Mack

The trouble with virtual reality (VR) is that science fiction and other popular media have so raised expectations that people are always disappointed, because they all think that fully functional VR is already here. But what VR is really good at is storytelling, simulator games, and training of all sorts.

Wool: Old Wine in New Bottles

Tim Mack

Tim Mack

Wool is one of man’s oldest materials. It’s been in use for at least 3,400 years, but it was not effectively utilized until selective breeding reduced the hard outer layer (known as kemp) that protects the usable fleece. While the industrial uses for this material have grown over the years, the potential now is rapidly expanding. Wool is both water retentive and water repellant, fire resistant up to 1,382 degrees Fahrenheit (and does not melt, unlike synthetics).

Coal and the Cascading Consequences of Change

Tim Mack

Tim Mack

Much has been said about clean coal, and how it is a “wave of the future.” Clean coal refers to reducing or neutralizing greenhouse gas emissions at the burn point, but regardless of China’s continuing commitment to coal-powered electrical plants, the United States has a natural gas glut and increasingly cost-competitive wind and solar power. As well, mountaintop leveling, destructive chemical processing, and byproduct disposal challenges continue to complicate any solutions that billion-dollar U.S. projects such as the recently canceled FutureGen might have produced.

Africa 2030

Tim Mack

Tim Mack

It is beyond the scope of this blog to discuss the globe in 2030 on a country-by-country basis, but one dramatic shift in employment opportunities is likely to center on the continent of Africa. Between now and 2030, population growth rates in Africa will be greater than for any other country, including China (which has in fact reversed its growth trends through its political one-child policies). Africa is expected to quadruple in population over the next 90 years, with its greatest economic and political growth likely in North Africa.

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