I cannot remember if I posted this already, but here’s the final version of the intro from “50 Things.” I’ve also discovered that Google Books have a 29-page sample available for free and the whole book as an e-book for a bargain busting £3.99!
The future is unwritten, but how we imagine it to be can influence present attitudes and behaviours, much in the same way that our individual and collective histories can define who we are and how we act, as most psychoanalysts will tell you. In other words, both past and future are always present.
But the future is not distributed equally. Science laboratories, research establishments and academic institutions create and explore new ideas long before they become widely available or fashionable elsewhere. Much the same might be said of younger people, who are often more open to experimenting with new ideas and less invested in, or constrained by, the frameworks of existing thinking.
What you will find inside this book is a selection of 50 ideas from the frontiers of futures thinking, along with some quotes and illustrative timelines. Some of these, and some of the people behind them, might seem a little crazy. But then who, without the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, can tell? Maybe that’s the whole point about thinking of the future. It’s not a matter of people being right or wrong, but is, rather, a way of inspecting our beliefs. It’s a way of disrupting the present and unearthing our assumptions about what can and cannot happen – assumptions that are always embedded in our thinking about the future. Also, it’s a way of reminding people of the oft-forgotten fact that the future is shaped by our present choices and actions.
Most importantly, engaging with the future gives us all the permission to dream. Two other aspects are apparent about the future. The first is that technology tends to act as an accelerant. Second, we often overestimate the impact of technological and social change in the shorter term, while underestimating it over much longer periods.
You may doubt this, but that’s possibly because the future tricks us by wearing a disguise and showing up unannounced. The future trickles into our daily lives, usually without warning or fanfare. If, instead, the future arrived all at once, to the sound of distant drums, we would no doubt be either rather alarmed or pleasantly impressed.
My hope is that the pages that follow will do a bit of both.