Why So Many Futurists? / by Scott Smith

Image: Flickr / Mike Miley

Image: Flickr / Mike Miley

I just returned from an incredibly stimulating week at FutureEverything in Manchester, steeping in some amazing work being done in digital cities, open data, science/art collisions and much more beyond. The week started in London, meeting with others working in the futures field fulltime, as well as spending time catching up with the plans of some of my favorite designers. What I saw and heard in both cities presages a great year ahead. Many thanks to all those who hosted, joined for beers, coffees, beats, burgers, or just plained rescued me when stranded on suburban rail. Special thanks to the FutureEverything crew, and Justin Pickard and Nicolas Nova, fellow members of the closing keynote troika, and Honor Harger, our moderator.

While I was away, my latest longread for Quartz was published, attempting to answer the seemingly simple but actually complicated question: "why are we suddenly seeing so many futurists?" A short summary would be: "Because uncertainty is everywhere at the moment." The article was less of an open call for anyone to take a crack at forecasting, and more a suggestion that seemingly more people are doing so because a confused and unsteady public seeks voices of authority and sensemaking, wherever these voices may emerge. It's also an initial attempt to sketch a taxonomy of sorts, including the fulltime, trained foresight pros who often maintain an unintentionally low profile, those who come naturally to futures thinking through disposition, those who are enthusiasts by association, and so on. 

Thanks for the great responses, particularly from those who work in and on the edges of the futures field. More comments and feedback always welcomed. Funny how the future happens all at once.