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.