Notes on the volcano

Posted in aviation, emerging issues, environment, sustainability, transport by thenextwavefutures on 23 April, 2010

By slowing business down, just for a moment, the volcano has allowed us to imagine how we might live differently

As the ashcloud settles, at least for the moment, it’s worth reflecting quickly on some of the things we’ve learnt in the last ten days. There’s huge amounts of commentary all over the internet, so I’ll pick up three points which seem less well covered:

  • The aviation industry is all but doomed – it’s only a matter of time
  • Moments of disruption allow us to imagine change
  • And if it’s nature against humankind, nature will win. (more…)

Land, art, and signals from the edge

Posted in emerging issues, future, land, scanning, sustainability by thenextwavefutures on 19 April, 2010

We know that emerging issues are emerging because they have a social form. Art gives us clues about the changing meanings of the future.

It’s a convention of futures work that new ideas emerge from the “edge” and, potentially, move towards the mainstream; as they make themselves visible, we describe them as emerging issues or weak signals. The journey is long (35-85 years, said Graham Molitor in his pioneering work) and bumpy. Many ideas emerge, but few succeed. But the futures literature is still unclear, as I read it, as to how we know when an issue has started to emerge.


The breakdown of politics, continued

Posted in economics, emerging issues, politics by thenextwavefutures on 10 April, 2010

There are strong trends which shape America’s political stand-off – but other democracies increasingly have their own versions of the American crisis.

One of the pleasures of blogging is that the dialogue which it sometimes provokes, and my recent post reflecting on the health care vote and the apparent breakdown of ‘normal’ political processes produced a couple of thoughtful responses which seemed to me to take the discussion on. My Futures Company colleague Walker Smith suggested to me from North Carolina that the Republican Party was being squeezed by four concurrent trends which were all disadvantageous to them, while closer to home my sometime collaborator Ian Christie puts US politics in the wider context of responses to globalisation. With their respective permissions, I’ve used large parts of their emails to me in the post that follows, paraphrasing lightly.


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