How do we build the Global Foresight Commons?
This post goes out to my fellow futurist peeps!
The strategic foresight community is quickly approaching a moment of great opportunity.
This moment of opportunity is the emergence of the intention economy. Current trends in “big data” and momentum toward rebuilding the web.. nay, the social web in a decentralized peer-to-peer manner are what are leading to this moment in which we may be able to align our planetary resources toward a future informed by our greatest collective hopes and aspirations.
We futurists are natural storytellers. We see patterns within the zeitgeist and convert them into scenarios and experiences. In my opinion however, we’re not doing enough to guide the zeitgeist. As a discipline, strategic foresight ironically lacks strategic foresight.
While looking for a resource I wanted to cite in a proposal I’m writing, I rediscovered this article “On a Global Foresight Commons.” It speaks to me and where I am now even more than it did two years ago. It’s a strong call to action, and I highly recommend reading it as this post is really an echo of that same call.
A few excerpts:
National-security experts today resemble the finance experts who missed the warning signs of an impending global economic crisis: They tend to be so specialized that complexity is an unlikely factor in their strategic calculus of national security concerns. There are clear signs, though, of emerging requirements for “specialists of the whole” and for a systems approach that can articulate the risks and opportunities inherent in complex, globally interdependent systems.
In times of sharp transition, it is difficult to distinguish the urgent from the trivial. For most people, it is easiest to cling to outdated paradigms and processes. This approach is sometimes referred to as the “boiling frog” scenario, which concerns the proverbial hapless frog who lacks the situational awareness and foresight to jump out of a slowly heating pot of water. In situations in which so much is unfamiliar, understanding our circumstances in time to translate foresight into readiness, imagination into opportunity, and reality into truth, all requires what Leonardo da Vinci called saper vedere, or knowing how to see.
The need for a new global architecture of foresight and risk assessment—a “global foresight commons”—is unmistakably clear. In the climate-science arena alone, traditional processes for scientific consensus and security assessments lag dangerously behind scientific discoveries. A distributed network serving as a global foresight commons can vet knowledge and insights on new global security challenges. This commons holds the potential to more rapidly synthesize discoveries and raise public awareness in time to mitigate risks and seize opportunities.
The time to build this is now. As storytellers, we must begin to act upon the opportunities that ‘big data’ presents us for storytelling. We must begin developing the next generation tools necessary for the alchemical art of turning data into insight and information into knowledge.
Most of all, we must not only anticipate a peer to peer decentralized social web leading to an environment of personal “big data” storytelling, we must be contributors in its construction.
When the tools for data storytelling have been massively democratized, will the tools for creating, aggregating and negotiating intention data be conducive toward personal strategic foresight that scales toward global levels of alignment?
It is for this reason that I am focusing my attention toward the Mozilla Foundation. As the intention economy comes into architectural and experiential focus, Firefox is perhaps one of the most important vehicles for distributing tools for empowerment and change. The Mozilla Foundation sees this and is rapidly shifting their focus to closing the global hypermedia literacy gap. This effort, while laudable, is not enough.. nor will it be wholly successful, I fear, if we futurists don’t band together and begin telling the story of how tomorrow’s web (almost literally tomorrow!) can and will be the engine for democratized strategic foresight that the human race needs it to be.
Show of hands (clicks?): How many of you have Mozilla’s Popcorn project on your radars? http://mozillapopcorn.org/
There’s something sexy about combining real-time data with dynamic video storytelling that stays up to date as the data changes. My gut tells me that playing with this nascent technology may be a tangible next step toward building the ‘Global Foresight Commons’.
I’d like to issue a challenge to the futurists of the world! Let’s begin using the tools of the near-future web to tell the story of the near-future web!