Futurism

Entertaining comment from Will Davies in The Work Foundation’siSociety Blog

Futurology hits the mainstream media at this time of year. Witness this from Peter York via the BBC:

Trends which started in the mid- to late-90s such as the “dome-fever, young country, Cool Britannia” sort of thing will come to an end [in 2004], marked by a single defining event. “I can’t say with clarity what it will be,” he says, “but some event will happen to set the seal on it.”

Well thanks Peter, but excuse me if I don’t rush straight down to Ladbrokes clutching a fist-full of twenties. Below are some critical reflections on futurism.

Firstly, its always amused me that many futurists base their case upon two entirely contradictory claims, these being:

a) That we live in rapidly changing times, meaning that the future is less and less certain.

b) That despite the future being less and less certain, futurists are somehow able to unlock its secrets!

(err… so how come people didn’t used to go around making endless predictions, if things were once so much more predictable?)

Making predictions is fine, I know I like to indulge. But so often this can lapse into something more like cod-astrology. Also, making predictions is sometimes a way of avoiding saying something more personal and authentic (for example saying “that won’t work” is a cop out from saying “I feel threatened by that idea”.) I daresay Peter York thinks the whole Cool Britannia thing sucks, but maybe making a prediction of a mysterious defining event feels more important?

(And thanks to Lee at Headshift for linking to the NEF blog)

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