Maps of the future

January 15, 2009 at 2:00 am Leave a comment

The Institute for the Future (IFTF) has produced some maps that look at signals of change, trends or disruptions in the future. The first map, 2008 Map of the Decade, looks at patterns and activity that help to make sense of our possible future within a ten-year forecast. You can download the map from the IFTF site.

There are five key foresights around:

  • diasporas: emerging new economies
  • civil society: the evolution of civic infrastructure
  • food: the flashpoint
  • ecosystems: management in the context of life
  • amplified individuals: the extended human reality

The diasporas cluster is interesting. With increasing global migration, diasporas will no longer be defined by geography. New disasporas will be defined by shared identities brought about by social networks, activities and events. And the future flashpoint (which I’ve said many times on this blog) will be the global food supply. As the climate changes and as our planet groans under the weight of a world population predicted to be 9.2 billion in 2050, global food supply will be disrupted and this will be accompanied by water woes. At the same, I certainly think that we’ll see the rise of localisation – a return to growing food in local communities and a call to return to the planet large areas of wilderness that were previously destroyed by humankind.

Also from Institute for the Future is a Map of Future Forces Affecting Sustainability that provides foresight for navigating “the complex business sustainability landscape from 2007 – 2017, with a focus on environmental health and safety strategies”. The Institute describes this map as a “sensemaking and provocation tool” to help businesses shape their strategies in a future world driven by sustainability concerns.

You can download and enlarge the map here.

As this map points out, we are moving from a world of problems to a world of dilemmas in which sensemaking capabilities will be important along with an ability to deal with uncertainty (yeah, well the GFHF is certainly helping us get this skill!). The map helps to identify dilemmas within the driving forces of People, Regions, Built Environments, Nature, Markets, Business and Energy and I think if you look at it carefully, you’ll see it can help businesses and individuals to elevate the conversation around sustainability.

Finally, from KnowledgeWorks Foundation and The Institute for the Future is the Map of Future Forces Affecting Education, which you can download.  The trends this map highlights confirm what I’ve been saying – a revival of localism but also of interest is Gen Y’s smart networking capabilities:

“Their experiences with shared presence through instant messaging and video chat, gaming as a structure for thinking and interacting, and multiple digital and physical worlds will create new modes of work, socializing, and community learning that stress cooperative strategies, experimentation, and parallel development.” 

You can view all the trends for this map here.

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Entry filed under: Education, Future trends, Social networks, Social problems, Sustainability, Useful resources. Tags: , , , , .

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