The economic consequences of the (Iraq) war

Posted in economics, global, security, trends, warfare by thenextwavefutures on 29 February, 2008

There’s an interesting discussion going on in the economics world about the impact of the cost of the Iraq war and on the US, following the publication of The Three Trillion Dollar War, by Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes. Economic theory says it should have stimulated the US economy, but it doesn’t seem to have. The impact of the war on oil prices is also disputed. Finally, Stoglitz and Bilmes suggest that the financing of the war has accelerated the transition of global power away from the US.



Living without outdoor advertising

Posted in advertising, emerging issues, media, social by thenextwavefutures on 24 February, 2008

I blogged a few months ago about Sao Paulo’s decision to ban billboards, in the context of the Culture Jammers’ campaign against what it calls the “mental pollution” of advertising. But it’s one thing to read about a different future, and another to see it. Now Advertising Lab has pointed me towards two videos – one fact, one fiction.


Energy and computer design

Posted in design, digital, energy, technology by thenextwavefutures on 21 February, 2008

I blogged last week about the potential impact of expensive energy on the future shape of the internet. Now it turns out that Sun has already started changing the design of its computer systems to favour efficiency rather than performance because of energy costs. It seems to have moved them to a different market space from their competitors.


The principles of sustainable economics

Posted in economics, emerging issues, global, poverty, sustainability by thenextwavefutures on 19 February, 2008

This will mostly be familiar material to anyone who’s been following the arguments about sustainable economics, or is familiar with the critiques of the limitations of neo-classical economics, but nonetheless there’s a useful seven-point summary (really six) at the WorldWatch Institute site. Two points to highlight are the emerging potential of the commons as a model for managing resources, and the way in which poverty globally is highly gendered.

Cheap energy and the shape of the internet

Posted in digital, emerging issues, energy, global, sustainability, technology by thenextwavefutures on 18 February, 2008

One of the most consistently interesting thinkers online about the long-term future of industrial society is John Michael Greer, who takes an impressively long-term and wide ranging (if also pessimistic) view of civilizational change. In his recent post Back Up The Rabbit Hole, he speculated on the way in which the ‘ultra cheap energy’ of the 1980s and 1990s had shaped US technology development – in particular the shape of the internet.


Poles returning to Poland from Britain

Posted in migration, social, trends by thenextwavefutures on 16 February, 2008

A report in today’s Times says that Poles are now leaving Britain faster than they are arriving – according to 3rd quarter data from the migrant workers’ register and more recent informal if informed assessments.

The reasons: the tightening UK economy; the weakening pound (and strong zloty); and a surge in the Polish economy, which has pushed up wages there.


Honesty or transparency

Posted in emerging issues, ethics, organisational, trends by thenextwavefutures on 15 February, 2008

My wife has been on a course recently where students became exercised by issues of honesty and transparency. During the discussion, they became hyphenated, as if they were effectively aspects of the same thing. But from a trends point of view, clearly they’re not.


Liquid assets in Pratchett-land

Posted in books, future by thenextwavefutures on 13 February, 2008

There’s a moment in Terry Pratchett’s most recent novel, Making Money, which will bring a smile to anyone who’s ever been put through the Futures 101 intro which ends: ‘This is not about prediction’. [No important plot points are given away in the writing of this post].


The rise of iWar

Posted in digital, global, politics, security, trends, warfare by thenextwavefutures on 8 February, 2008

New word of the month is ‘iWar’, conjured up by Johnny Ryan of Dublin’s Institute of European Affairs in an article in Open Democracy. It describes “attacks carried out over the internet that target the consumer internet infrastructure”.


Explaining England’s surveillance obsession

Posted in civil liberties, politics, reports, security, trends by thenextwavefutures on 7 February, 2008

The current scandals around surveillance in the UK reminds me that I meant to post about Privacy International’s most recent international league table. (Thanks to Our Kingdom for the prompt). England and Wales are in the bottom category – “endemic surveillance societies” – while Scotland, split out for the first time, is a little higher, in category 5 (‘systemic failure to uphold safeguards’) of the 7. England is the only EU country to make the bottom grade; the US is also down there. A note of caution; very few states make the top three categories.