Brenda Cooper

Futurist Trivia: The Sunday Times

People often ask me where I get my ideas as a writer.  The companion question as a futurist is “how do you study the future?”  The answer, of course, is you study “now” and you study the past.  Then you think a bit.  Futurists aren’t predictors partly because we can’t see the wildcards or the unexpected things – most of us missed the internet at first, and then “got it” before a lot of other people did.  Except the geeks – who missed the amount of marketing money that would go into it but got the social power for good and the wonders of open source very well, thank you.

So its a good thing I’m a geek and a futurist!  Anyway, that aside, an exercise I sometimes do is to look at the Sunday Seattle Times and point out how much interesting stuff exists there for a futurist.

This is the short version, so I don’t end up late for work.  So I’ll pick three (although there were  a bunch more).

  • The obvious and fun:  Future Shack.  This is actually a series of articles, and the one I read yesterday on homes isn’t online yet.  But there is a link to part of the series that talks about city building.    I found yesterday’s add in the Pacific Northwest magazine, which actually does some pretty fun articles.  But what’s not to like for a futurist in pretty pictures and descriptions of housing “with the ability to share and to morph– from office, to guesthouse, to playroom.”  And it goes on.  I’m saving it, in fact.  For at least a while.  Smaller, more innovative housing.
  • In business, a less happy article on another biotech (Zymogenetics) sold to big pharma.  I’m not overly fond of a future where too much power goes to the big boys in most fields.  But this article reminds me we are still walking down that path, even though the article works hard to convince readers that that’s normal.  It may be normal, but it scares me a bit.  Yes, I understand the economies of scale, but I think we lose innovation that we’re going to need, and big companies arean’t really risk takers.
  • The Seattle Times does some really nice investigative reporting (which may be part of why they are still making it).  The front page today is about challenges in adult homes.  Aging and care for the aging is a very real future problem that we’re grappling with globally.  Demographics say it’s going to get worse long before it gets better.  This is part of the over-population problem, home to a ton of ethical issues, and we can predict the demographics.  We know how many people are likely to be 85 years old in the next decade.

There were at least ten things I could have listed as futurist fodder.  Easy pickings.  The fun part is thinking about interconnections, like seniors and the future of housing (these houses are almost all designed for all life-stages, which we’re thinking about changing our housing so we can manage the next stage for aging parents who could end up here – our house has no shower downstairs) or like seniors and biotech (will new meds let us all live in healthier ways for longer?  What are the downsides?)

Ultimately, we’re all futurists.  We all think ahead in our lives and our businesses.