Futurist, or is it really…

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I got a few great emails yesterday from a friend on the concept  of what is a futurist. In the end we were being creative and started coming up with the language of futurists while stealing a little from Jeff Foxworthy. (My apologies Mr. Foxworthy but your concept of You might be a redneck really fit this conversation).

You might be a futurists if…

  • You often say the word tomorrow.
  • When web sites need a picture of the home of tomorrow they come to your house and take the picture.
  • You are featured on the cover of Office of Tomorrow.
  • People don’t ask you how you are, they ask you how you will be

Sadly our list didn’t stop here but these were my favorites especially the last one (which wasn’t mine so kudo’s on that one go to my friend I can’t share his name because he says he is in the witness protection program. I think he just doesn’t want people to know he talks to me).

The interesting thing was the concept that futurists talk to people differently than everyone else does. That you can identify them simply by the special lapel pin they wear. They speak in future terms was what my friend called it.

So I started thinking about that after I shut my computer down for the evening (and the IU game was over). What are future terms. Is it building on what is there today and peaking just over the horizon to share a concept of what could be in a very short time period? It left me with some questions about futurists.

Would a futurist have a doorbell or would they just know you would be visiting?

I get that a futurist would wear a watch (the now isn’t the future) but do they need a calendar?

Sorry about that – the questions just rattle around inside my head all day if I don’t get them out.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

New System Thinking…

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Futurist:

(Wikipedia)

The term "futurist" most commonly refers to authors, consultants, organizational leaders and others who engage in interdisciplinary and systems thinking to advise private and public organizations on such matters as diverse global trends, plausible scenarios, emerging market opportunities and risk management.

The Oxford English Dictionary identifies the earliest use of the term futurism in English as 1842, to refer, in a theological context, to the Christian eschatological tendency of that time. The next recorded use is the label adopted by the Italian and Russian futurists, the artistic, literary and political movements of the 1920s and 1930s which sought to reject the past and fervently embrace speed, technology and, often violent, change.

Futurist.

Systems thinking presents an interesting face to the world. If you follow the works that created the genre you think in inputs, processes and outputs. The inputs of today (mobile devices, cloud computing, tablets, laptops, servers, mainframes, the Internet) are mapped into a series of processes that result in an output (actionable screens).

I would like to propose a slightly modified systems thinking metaphor. Where the inputs are actually the human being, the processes are the machine and the broader output is something the person wished to create. This is an extension of existing systems thinking but one I believe will benefit the overall output significantly.

You can see this metaphor starting to take place with the number of 3d printers that are available on the market today. Imagine it, put it into a computer program and it is output on a 3d printers. Interestingly by the way, you first see these types of system outputs on CSI shows first.

If you include the human element of a system as an input of the system you change some things. For example the concept of hard to user becomes a barrier. It has always been a deterrent to solutions but with this broader system model we now have it as a direct barrier. If the process and the outputs are too complex the system fails.

I keep hearing Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone voice in my head. “Imagine if you will, a system bound to the inputs and delivering expected outputs. You’ve entered the new system thinking zone.”

more to come…

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

What is a futurist?

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I heard the title futurist yesterday. I’ve heard it before but I never really thought about what a futurist was or could be. Is it someone focused on a particular technology or all technologies and then what will happen next? Or is it someone more of a PR type apologist (that’s fixed in the next version).

Futurists like weather forecasters are more wrong than right. If you think about bold predictions of what tomorrow would bring the list of those correct dwindles rapidly. Some are right about many things (Wells) but you never hear about the rest. Predictions of what tomorrow may bring is a great business, if you write vaguely (like Nostradamus) your predictions will always come true.

But if you detail specifics you will fail. Why? Because the future changes even as we enter it. It is a shifting paradigm flowing mind bending different place than we are now. The window for the future is much smaller than we think. In 2009 I used a windows phone, I was limited by many things, not the least of which was that the upcoming platform would remove all of the applications I had purchased useless. That future came to pass with the release of Windows Phone 7. The same is true today with the future of the lightening connector and suddenly iPhone’s no longer talk to the many devices built for the 30 pin dock connector of older iPhones, iPod’s and iPads.

On the wings of right now the concept of the touch screen begins to gel. It seems a logical extension of what is, but is it? What does lie in the futurists mind now? A shifting pile of sand (as a friend says often, which grain makes it collapse?). What doth the future hold oh seer?

Upon the break of day

A new light will rise

from this light

all will see

and all will follow.

(my quatrain about the release of the new IPhone 7 iOS. Or is it? perhaps a large explosion that results in everyone having to live underground. Or maybe its about a religious coming as foretold in many religious text. Or possible its aliens landing in N.Y.C. All in all it’s the future so make it what you will).

A future by any other name is just a guess.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

What is slowing the 4th bubble

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As AT&T allows for more and more Facetime via cellular I wonder if a data rate increase in next?

Its not me being cynical at all it is the reality of the telephony industry today. In the face of voip and wi-fi, the telecom industry clings stubbornly to its existing cost structure.

Much, by the way as it did to the telephone handset in the 1960’s and look what that brought…the declaration of and dissolution of a monopoly. I wonder if we are heading that way. Cellular companies bake a lot of their overall costs into the movement of 1 meg of data. They don’t have to account for their cost structure that way it is just the most convenient way as the high end users today are the ones who use data. As that moves further and further down into the less power user community I wonder if that pricing structure can hold.

In the book transitional services I talked a little about this. My gut many years ago was the Internet wouldn’t take off until there was high speed access in more than 33% of American homes (do the math – it actually exploded at 29% of American homes having high speed access). The 4th converged bubble of technology won’t take off until the pricing structure for mobile data changes. The great explosion will occur when AT&T realizes the WalMart model (sell many more, but make less per item) is a better model that what they use now.

Ah to live in interesting times.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Hosting a virtual conference…

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The flat tax. I’ve talked about it before but frankly our current tax system just doesn’t work.

Enough of that – technology blogs and taxes don’t mix.

So yesterday I talked a little about a 360 degree panorama video conferencing system. There are a few out there but they cost quite a bit of money.

Still, without the addition of an interactive whiteboard the value of a camera system like that goes down. The ability to act upon and interact with information is what makes meetings so important in the business world. Having the ability to have interactive remote meetings via teleconference is the next stage. Sure you can do it today but you have to have a lot of moving pieces.

I’ve had the pleasure of sitting in tele-presence rooms and have run a number of virtual conferences. There are a couple of interesting problems you have to be aware of with virtual conferences that I would like to talk to today:

  1. Conversation domination – certain people have a tendency to dominate the conversation during a meeting. You have to make sure with a virtual meeting that everyone has a chance to talk.
  2. Bad presentations (these really kill you in a virtual conference, not because they are bad but because your audience drifts away).
  3. Finally informality can bite your conference when it is virtual – people aren’t seeing each other – therefor the informality bug can bite the conference.

Great topics help speakers, great speakers help conferences so the two are critical to pull together. Be wary of shock speakers (people who say something out of the norm) as they can drive a virtual conference into a spiraling side conversation that takes over the conference.

Theme’s are important but if you use theme’s they cannot be subtle. They also cannot be horribly overt – you need to balance the theme with the information presented.

Finally start on time, end on time is more important for virtual conferences than even in person conferences. People need to know what to expect and when.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

360 view of the room…

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The ultimate meeting camera. You can get the roundtable (I was at MS when they first brought them out – very cool but very expensive). There has to be a better way to do video conferencing.

Of course the other side of that camera is an interactive white boarding solution so people can talk, see each other and interact. The CISCO telepresence stuff is pretty cool, sharing rooms across the network but again, its really expensive.

Ultimately people are going to walk to be able to teleconference at will both in the office and at home. There is something nice about seeing the face that goes with the person talking.

There are some interesting products in this space but nothing that really seems to leap out at you.

I guess I have to keep looking.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Continuing Essay 2

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The passage to India. It was the dream of Christopher Columbus  to find a faster route to the spices of India. Going around the horn of Africa was fraught with dangers much of the year. The Europeans sought a faster way through to the world beyond Europe.

Columbus  believed that sailing West would ultimately bring him to the far East. In the end he was both right and wrong, but he tried. The trying part is the change agent in the end.

Why am I focused on this? Its an expansion of the bubble concept I have been talking about. You see, Columbus  set out to change the world and hit the Caribbean. He thought he had failed but in the end his journey returned much more wealth than if he had made it to India. Its not always what you are aiming for, sometimes its what you hit.

In my concept the 4th technology bubble starts in the last 8 or so years but, has vestiges of the other bubbles in it. There is component of the 4th bubble that is driven by mainframe thinking (centralized data), there is a part that is driven by distributed computing (HR and CooP) and finally a component that is driven by the Internet (device independence). The newest wrinkle is the consumerization of both services and solutions and the rise of mobility.

In the end, this 4th bubble will sow the seeds for the 5th bucket and so on. For now, it seems to me to be a better overall expansion than a stacked chart showing change over time. It isn’t change, its expansion.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow