Futures Thinking

UK social software consultant and writer Suw Charman-Anderson, working for the Carnegie Trust UK, has been conducting some forecasting and scenario-making research concerning the future of social technology and the Internet. Her enormous mindmap of keywords and phrases associated with where things might be heading in the next 15 years is definitely worth a look, containing as it does a bevy of bite-sized-yet-thought-provoking future-visions like “personalized manufacturing”, “crime based on openness” and “consolidation and closure of news outlets.” Also worth taking a look at is a series of interviews Suw conducted wherein she poses thoughtful questions about the future to a variety of scholars, entrepreneurs and activists, including JP Rangaswami and Ross Mayfield. These interviews are each individually quite edifying, as is the base set of questions Suw asks — indeed, these questions are an excellent starting-point for any discussion of the future, and so I post them here (see the Carnegie Trust’s “futures thinking” page for more on this methodology):

1. Predetermined driving forces
What forces appear to be predetermined?
What changes in the broader environment appear unavoidable?
What assumptions are these changes based upon?

2. Uncertain driving forces
What might happen over the next 15 years that would affect social technology?
If you could have any question answered about what will happen by 2025, what would it be?
How uncertain are they?
Which are becoming more certain?

3. Wildcard events
What type of unexpected developments could totally change the game?
What could undermine existing assumptions?

4. Connections and criticality
Are any of these driving forces connected?
Which are the most important?
Which small changes could have big consequences?
Which of these driving forces are critical?

(Strange Attractor)