20 October 2007

Forbes Magazine on our lack of insight into the future

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The Future
Forbes Magazine has a huge special report on the future and wonders why people simply aren’t very good at predicting the future and foresight remains largely blind.

The issue is full of articles explaining this lack of foresight capacity, but only pays scant attention to contextual research, scenario-based planning, or the concrete value of strategic foresight for companies. But here are some interview quotes that I liked. They are not about the future, but about the now:

David Brin (link)

“I certainly expected that, by now, online tools for conversation, work, collaboration and discourse would have become far more useful, sophisticated and effective than they currently are. I know I’m pretty well alone here, but all the glossy avatars and video and social networks conceal a trivialization of interaction, dragging it down to the level of single-sentence grunts, flirtation and ROTFL [rolling on the floor laughing], at a time when we need discussion and argument to be more effective than ever.

Everybody is still banging rocks together, while bragging about the colors. Meanwhile, half of the tricks that human beings normally use, in real world conversation, have never even been tried online.”

Esther Dyson (link)

“What’s happened (though I can’t say I’m totally surprised) is that a newer generation of users has a totally different attitude to personal data. They don’t worry about privacy as much; they just assume that they can control their personal data (though they may be wrong in this belief). They are more interested in distributing it widely–in essence, establishing their presence around the Internet. If e-mail is for communication, a transaction between two (or more) people, “presence” is being there (in an online profile), available for your friends to catch up with at any time. Then if they want a response, they ping or poke or message you in some way (but usually not by e-mail).”

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