Art as danger

Posted in culture, emerging issues, organisational by thenextwavefutures on 30 November, 2007

Art has, conventionally, been about disturbing convention. Traditionally, I think, this has been about challenging ideological conventions. The news that health and safety may possibly require the Doris Salcedo “Shibboleth” installation at the Tate to be covered over suggests that the convention is shifting. As does the work of Kendell Greers, currently on display at the Baltic in Gateshead.



Thinking about long-term futures

Posted in future, history, sustainability, time by thenextwavefutures on 29 November, 2007

For a number of reasons I’ve been thinking about long-term futures recently – beyond the 50-year mark and out to 100 years or more. So I pricked up my ears when I was at a concert and heard a singer, while introducing a song about the poet John Clare, talk about the ‘seventh generation’.


Burning up the book

Posted in books, business, culture, digital, law, technology, trends by thenextwavefutures on 25 November, 2007

I am probably the last person in the blogosphere to write about Amazon’s launch of its e-book device, the Kindle. It’s described as “a wireless reading device” and in the initial wave of publicity Amazon boss Jeff Bezos has taken care to position it as complementary to the book. But even with Amazon’s strengths as an e-commerce retailer chances of success seem poor, for the moment.


The future of management

Posted in books, business, digital, organisational, trends by thenextwavefutures on 24 November, 2007

Our dominant management methods and theories are now a century old – and are no longer suitable for what they have to do. That’s the overall argument of Gary Hamel‘s new book, The Future of Management, which he spells out in a recent ‘conversation’ with McKinsey Quarterly. But while he thinks that the new models are clear, it’s not clear how long they’ll take to emerge into practice.


Machine readable design

Posted in design, emerging issues, security, technology by thenextwavefutures on 21 November, 2007

There’s been a flurry of interest on the design blogs on the ‘FE-Mittelschrift’ typeface adopted for German number plates. It breaks pretty much all of the rules for typographic design, perhaps because it is designed to prevent manipulation of number plates. The most important ‘readers’ may be machines, not humans.



Steps towards sustainable business

Posted in business, climate change, environment, organisational, sustainability by thenextwavefutures on 20 November, 2007

It must be the season for newspapers and magazines to look at how well businesses are doing in greening themselves. The New York Times and the Guardian have run supplements, while Fast Company and Business Voice have prominent articles. The NYT looks most interesting in terms of trends; it suggests that we have reached the third phase of businesses improving their environmental impact.


The etymology of ‘utopia’

Posted in books, future by thenextwavefutures on 19 November, 2007

In her essay on Aldous Huxley, which I blogged about yesterday, Margaret Atwood revisits the origins of the word ‘utopia’. Obviously it’s by Thomas More, and obviously it’s from the Greek. The conventional wisdom is that it means “no place”, from the Greek ou-topos, but there has been a recurring minority view that said it was from eu-topos (‘good place’) instead.


Everybody’s happy – Brave New World revisited

Posted in books, culture, future by thenextwavefutures on 17 November, 2007

I blogged a few months ago about a long essay reflecting on Brave New World on its 75th anniversary. Now the novelist Margaret Atwood, not a stranger to future-oriented fiction*, has her reflections on the novel in today’s Guardian Review. Comparing it with 1984, she asks:

Would it be possible for both of these futures – the hard and the soft – to exist at the same time, in the same place? And what would that be like?


The wisdom of the football crowd

Posted in digital, emerging issues, football, leisure, local, social, sport by thenextwavefutures on 15 November, 2007

The news that a supporters group organised through the internet has taken control of Ebbsfleet United, in the fifth tier of English football but heading in the right direction, got a lot of publicity in the UK (and beyond). Some of it was sceptical. The story is connected to some long trends which take some unpacking. And slightly to my surprise, I found myself changing my mind about the Ebbsfleet takeover – from positive to negative – as I researched and wrote this (quite long) post.


‘Darkening’ the soft drinks market

Posted in advertising, business, consumers, emerging issues, ethics, food, health, social by thenextwavefutures on 15 November, 2007

I pricked up my ears at news of the recent launch of the global ‘Dump Soda’ campaign – whose ambitions are pretty much as stated on the can, as it were. The reason: a few years ago my colleague Rachel Kelnar and I wrote some scenarios on the impact of obesity on the food and drink production sector, and suggested that one almost certain outcome was that the markets would get increasingly ‘dark’ – marketing restrictions would tighten – because of public pressure. (The full paper can be found on my Selected Articles page),