FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Future of Futurism

Wired examines the future of futurism as a profession, citing observations of such notables as Andy Hines of the Association of Professional Futurists: "It used to be there were a few superstars... What you're starting to see now is a lot of lunch-pail sorts of futurists." In other words, anyone with some insightful observations (or wishing to share the observations of others) can use the Internet to network, conduct research, and post their ideas on a blog or a wiki -- regardless of professional affiliation.

Greg Burton of Genius Now takes that thought a step further, suggesting that old-school futurist organizations such as the World Future Society are at risk of becoming obsolete. Like Andy, Greg recognizes the importance of grass-roots networks in disseminating futures information. "This is a major change in the way people are structuring responses to global situations, often routing around the incumbent architectures. Implications need to be explored, and some of the issues created need to be described. This is the edge of real-world activity. Planning for a job as an 'eco-relations manager' for a traditional corporation isn’t."

The flip side to all of this is that most traditional businesses are just beginning to grasp the importance of futurism. Perhaps an emerging role for WFS is that of a lobbying and awareness organization, reaching out to those in power both in government and in business, and educating them about the need for futures and foresight programs.