Urban trees – chopped by insurance claims

Posted in cities, emerging issues, environment, Nokia, reports, sustainability by thenextwavefutures on 30 June, 2007

Battersea trees I mentioned an impending report by the Greater London Assembly’s environment committee on London’s trees a while back but forgot to say that it had now been published, with the catchy title ‘Chainsaw Massacre’.



Health shows the limits of affluence

Posted in affluence, health, social, trends by thenextwavefutures on 30 June, 2007

Two stories in the past week remind us that health is one of the things that consistently shows the limits of affluent societies. The first is data which show that the number of alcohol-related hospital admissions have doubled in ten years. The second is a report from several charities which says that obesity strongly increases the risks of contracting dementia.


Rupert, MySpace, and social class

Posted in business, digital, media, technology, trends by thenextwavefutures on 30 June, 2007

The Wall Street Journal interviewed Rupert Murdoch earlier this month (in the middle of News International’s takeover campaign for the WSJ parent Dow Jones). It’s long, and more interesting for his views on newspapers than online, but he”s clearly convinced that Google is going to destroy the newspaper advertising base, and doesn’t seem so sure about his expensive acquisition (which cost $800m in 2005) of MySpace anymore. But the apparent shift towards Facebook is a more complex social issue, as a recent essay suggests.


How England might get proportional representation

Posted in emerging issues, politics by thenextwavefutures on 30 June, 2007

There are interesting articles in the Welsh political and cultural magazine Planet on the recent Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament elections. In Wales, John Osmond writes that Labour’s position as the largest party is now on a knife edge – the long-term trend in their vote appears to be downwards and they hold nine of the ten most marginal seats. From a Scottish perspective, the historian Christopher Harvie, newly elected as a nationalist MSP, observes that Labour’s strongholds have been reduced through PR to Glasgow and Lanarkshire. Between them, these hold clues to electoral change in England.


How communities get to low carbon

Posted in climate change, energy, environment, sustainability, trends by thenextwavefutures on 30 June, 2007

findhorn1.jpg There’s a short article in the current print edition of Resurgence magazine on how the Scottish ‘ecovillage’ of Findhorn comes to have the lowest ecological footprint ever recorded a community in the affluent ‘North’. Three factors explain this: the way the community shares goods and services; the way its food is managed; and short travel to work distances.


‘Word free food’ – weak signal, but still interesting

Posted in brands, economics, emerging issues, food, retail by thenextwavefutures on 25 June, 2007

Weak signals are trends which are tiny, hiding in small subcultures or social groups, which on the face of it seem downright odd when first explained. (But then again, there’s a famous futures quote from James Dator which says that “”Any useful idea about the future should appear to be ridiculous.”) Is there a signal about the future hiding in the concept of word free food?


Changing shape of the ocean liner

Posted in business, social, tourism, transport, trends by thenextwavefutures on 25 June, 2007


Some interesting observations on the ocean liner and its changing shape and purpose embedded in a fine article by Ian Jack in the Guardian on Saturday. The article was prompted by the news that the QE2 is to be retired next year to become a shopping centre in Dubai. The liners built since it was launched in 1967 have become squarer and squatter.


DNA sequencing could be ‘routine’ in 10 years

Posted in digital, emerging issues, medicine, science, technology by thenextwavefutures on 22 June, 2007

The co-founder of Intel, Andy Grove, has a saying that when you think about a technology, you shouldn’t think about what it can do today. You should think about what it would be like if it was ten times cheaper or ten times faster. I couldn’t help but think of this when reading about predictions made this week at the lanuch of the Wellcome Collection in London that DNA sequencing would be used routinely in health treatment in ten years time.


The $100 lap top goes into trial phase

Posted in children, digital, emerging issues, global, technology by thenextwavefutures on 22 June, 2007

OLPC pilot machine South Africa I’d better start by declaring a prejudice: I have been a natural born sceptic about the $100 lap top project, now known as ‘One Laptop Per Child [OLPC]’, ever since I first heard Nicholas Negroponte proselytise about it. There are lots of good reasons, which I’ll own up to later in this post. So: imagine my surprise when I learnt from Russell Southwood’s unique mailing list about African digital media that pilots are about to start happening.


Changing questions suggest different political landscapes

Posted in emerging issues, politics by thenextwavefutures on 22 June, 2007

The current issue of New Left Review has an intriguing introduction from its guest editor Malcolm Bull:

A selection of the most pressing political questions of the moment might include the following: should women wear headscarves? May we buy and sell our bodily organs? How can we control the weather? [My emphasis]