Library futures

Posted in culture, digital, future, local, trends by thenextwavefutures on 11 February, 2012

A version of this post, which I wrote with Victoria Ward and Sabine Jaccaud of the change consultancy Sparknow, is also on The Futures Company blog.

Recently Francine Houben of Mecanoo Architecten talked about their design of Birmingham’s future library as a “living room for the city”. More than just storage, a dynamic space for movement, openness and exchange. In a blog she calls libraries “the cathedrals of our millennia”, which seemed a useful precursor to last Saturday’s National Libraries Day

The future of the library is, in some ways, a paradox.The trends that are running against it are more obvious, especially when combined with the financial pressures facing the British libraries system. But there are a surpring number of trends running in its favour. When you look at them together, the library becomes an object which allows us to have a discussion about the notion of the ‘public’ in the digital age.



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.


DOTT 07 – sustainable design for communities

Posted in design, emerging issues, energy, environment, innovation, local, sustainability by thenextwavefutures on 31 October, 2007

I spent some of the weekend in Newcastle (or more precisely Gateshead) at the DOTT ’07 exhibition which marked the close of this ambitious two year project. Three essential lessons for me, which won’t be surprising to those who know the work of John Thackara, who directed the project:

  • Sustainability is about flows, not stuff
  • Those flows have to include knowledge as well as materials
  • Sustainability needs social, public, and community engagement

The project has been well-documented on the website, but it’s worth pulling out a few personal moments of illumination.


Trees good for urban well-being – but threatened

Posted in biodiversity, cities, emerging issues, environment, local, social, sustainability by thenextwavefutures on 13 May, 2007

The Guardian has a story about a forthcoming report from the Greater London Assembly which will say that trees are valuable for the well-being of communities but are under threat from a combination of insurance companies and risk-averse local authorities.