Darran Anderson’s Imaginary Cities (University of Chicago Press, 2015) has an unusual approach for a book on foresight. First, it is actually based in the discipline of architecture and spends a substantial amount of time looking at plans never built due to lack of funding, client change of heart, and catastrophes of all sorts.
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Evolution and foresight are not usually considered in the same sentence, except in the area of conscious evolution, but both disciplines consider how things change and what forces shape that change. Classical evolution has long been seen as glacial and thus not especially relevant to humanity’s social, economic, or political dynamics. Darwin believed that natural selection was a very slow, almost imperceptible process, proceeding in evolutionary time.
In contrast to science fiction novels and short stories, movies have increasingly been a team effort. Accordingly, various futurists have been able to work in partnership with production staff, providing content and design advice for landmarks of science fiction. 2001: A Space Odyssey had Arthur C. Clarke on board from the beginning, which produced a vision which continues to be quite persuasive 50 years after its release in 1968.
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
The Future of Learning: Redefining Readiness from the Inside Out by Katherine Prince, Andrea Saveri, and Jason Swanson (KnowledgeWorks, 2017), offers a forecast for work in 2040 and strategies for preparing learners. Reviewed by Timothy C. Mack.
A futurist and Washington state resident provides an insider's view of the state's work to integrate local stakeholders' input into its visioning and planning processes.
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.
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.
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 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).