Preparing for Change

Two weeks ago I facilitated one of the scenarios from ARL. I think a few folks were nervous about these scenarios–and even questioned why we would find value in envisioning the future. But, oh, how it important it is to do so! The scenarios do a great job of opening up possibilities. None of us know what the future will bring, but THINKING about the future is one of the best things that we can do to prepare for it.

The outcome of the retreat is still forming–but it is fair to say that it turned out better than any of us imagined. We formulated our draft high-level goals from this work; and they ooze with having gotten a glimpse of the future while forming our thoughts.

I have the great luck to work with a talented science fiction writer, Alexis Latner, and I took the opportunity to ask her for a quote about why thinking about the future is important. Her perspective was brilliant:

Why envision the future?  It won’t be what you (or I or anyone else) imagine. It will shape up as a mix and match of different imaginings, plus the impact of one or more metaphorical meteors that no one saw coming. What we can be sure of is that the future will happen, we will be living there, and it will be different from today, because societal change happens, and technological change happens ever faster. If we envision the future, we may be able to steer – not the rushing river of futurity itself, but our own boat in the flux of it.  One thing about canoeing in a current is this:  you must paddle to keep the canoe moving relative to the water, because otherwise you can’t steer.  Another thing:  you must read the river, looking for hidden rocks and strainers and standing waves and holes, and steer away from them.


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About effervescentlibrarian

UX Librarian at Rice University, Houston, Texas.
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2 Responses to Preparing for Change

  1. Jason Ellis says:

    It’s very important to see the future. Even more important is to dream up the stuff of science fiction. Because the science of today is the science fiction of 60 years ago. My parents grew up reading stories about video phones, today we have Skype. The fictions kids read today are the things that they will figure out how to build tomorrow.

    • effervescentlibrarian says:

      I love that! So true; science fiction is crucial–writers and artists, and all of our dreamers that dream the reality of tomorrow. Thanks, Jason!

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