The end of smoking

Posted in health, social by thenextwavefutures on 6 August, 2017

It’s been hard to write recently, for various reasons: or, at least, to write anything complex. (Notes on films have been stacking up on my ‘culture’ blog as a result of a “film moments” project that I started a few months ago.)  Here on the next wave, drafts for posts have been building up, with elegant beginnings and no conclusions. So I thought I should get back into the habit by writing some simpler and maybe shorter things.

Public health officials used to believe that we’d never manage to get the rate of adult smoking below 25%, according to a recent article by Clare Wilson in New Scientist (free, but registration required). Now, in a number of richer markets, it is well below that level: in the UK, it’s 16%, in the US, 15%. New Zealand plans to get its adult smoking levels below 5% by 2025, Finland by 2030 (this is a more aggressive target, since it includes chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes.) At its peak, in the mid-20th century, half of American and British adults smoked.


Slow language

Posted in culture, digital, emerging issues, social, time by thenextwavefutures on 9 July, 2009

I’m a fan of the poet/novelist Nick Laird’s sometime contributions to the Guardian’s Saturday Review, and last weekend – after a holiday in Italy where he was exposed to the Slow Food Movement – he wrote about how to read poetry now was to be part of a Slow Language Movement‘. A smart sub-editor pulled the phrase into the headline, and although one of the joys of ‘slow’ as an adjective is how easily it can be used to form new movements (there are Slow Towns as well), it seems – on the basis of a quick web search – that Nick Laird’s article may represent the first sighting of an emerging issue.


The changing shape of surveillance

Posted in civil liberties, data, digital, emerging issues, social by thenextwavefutures on 10 April, 2009

It may not seem completely appropriate to make the link, but there’s a connection which runs from the McLaren fiasco in the Australian Grand Prix, through the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, to the death last week during the G20 demonstration of Ian Tomlinson. The connection is about information, how much of it there is, how it flows, and who has access to it under what circumstances.


The past and future of music

Posted in books, culture, digital, emerging issues, music, social by thenextwavefutures on 5 November, 2008

I’ve written in the past about the future of hard-format music, but re-reading some of Bill Drummond‘s writings and interviews during the summer has brought me back to it. The manager-turned-musician-turned-cultural commentator, best known for his time with KLF, is a sort of one-person emerging issue for the music business. Reading about his latest project in conjunction with reviews of Travis Elborough’s recent book The Long-player Goodbye gave a sharp insight into the future of the industry. The rise of the long-format music artefact may have been a fifty-year blip.


The BBC, Brand and Ross

Posted in emerging issues, media, social by thenextwavefutures on 2 November, 2008

What to make of the BBC Brand/Ross blow-out? It could show the power of traditional media to use digital media to whip up a firestorm, with all the political and cultural volatility implied, or it could indicate a shift in social attitudes and expectations in the wake of the credit crunch.


Doping, cycling and the Olympics

Posted in cycling, social, sport, trends by thenextwavefutures on 5 August, 2008

Concerns that success in this month’s Olympics will go to athletes who are using undetected drugs seems to be increasingly widespread as the opening ceremony approaches. I think they can learn something from professional cycling.


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More on suburbs and sustainability

Posted in emerging issues, housing, social, sustainability by thenextwavefutures on 19 July, 2008

Since I posted on sustainable suburbs a couple of months ago, I’ve been alerted to the Forum for the Future’s seminar on the same subject. The main themes were about density and connectivity. The seminar report is a little bald; James Goodman’s blog post gives a more rounded flavour.


Museums of the future

Posted in culture, digital, future, history, scenarios, social by thenextwavefutures on 25 June, 2008

I contributed last week to an event in London which was designed to imagine how the notion of the museum might change. The current model, which is about 150 years old, basically consists of a building with some stuff in it, arranged according to some organising principle. It is changing already in the face of challenges from technology and shifting ideas about authority and hierarchy.


Scoring the impending global crisis: population

Posted in gender, global, social, trends by thenextwavefutures on 24 April, 2008

The ‘grand problematique’ is a phrase sometimes used in futures works to describe that coming collision of population increase, food supply issues, energy shortage, and climate change impact – which, it’s said, could be making our lives hell by 2030. (Colin Mason called it the ‘2030 Spike‘). There has been a wave of related reports and news stories on this recently, so I thought it would be worth running a quick score. I’m planning a series of posts covering off the stories I’ve noticed – starting with population.


More evidence that noise kills

Posted in emerging issues, equality, health, reports, social, transport by thenextwavefutures on 15 March, 2008

The serious impact of noise on health outcomes is an emerging issue. I blogged last year about a World Health Organisation study on noise impact in Europe which suggested – among other things – that as many people died in the UK because of the effects of persistent traffic noise as in collisions. Now a similar study commissioned by the European sustainability group Transport and Environment has found that transport noise (car and rail) is responsible for 50,000 deaths a year in Europe and has external costs of €40bln a year (90% from traffic).