Foresight in a Network Era: Peer-producing Alternative Futures

I’d like to announce the publication of a refereed article in the Journal of Futures Studies: “Foresight in a Network Era: Peer-producing Alternative Futures

Over the two and some years I’ve worked with colleagues Tim Mansfield and Gareth Priday, in the Services2020 team. Over the last year we have studied network based approaches to foresight work.

It was a rather winding journey, looking for new ways to think about how foresight can be done in a network era. Many workshops and drafts later we have finally come to this result, no doubt to be superseded by others in the not too distant future in the ever evolving conceptualization of our cybernetic civilization. But nevertheless we are happy with where we have arrived for now.

The article addresses the evolution of foresight in a network era. In it we look at a number of examples of ‘network foresight’, using new analytic approaches to understand their dynamics: Replication, Openness, Prefiguration, and exploring the relevance for the development of Anticipatory Democracy.

In the abstract we write:

The advent of the network form has ushered in new practices and possibilities for participation and collaboration based on emerging on-line technologies. It is no surprise that new approaches to futures / foresight research and engagement are being developed in the context of these technologies and emerging practices. In dwelling within this juxtaposition between participatory futures and the maturing network era, we ask what the implications are for foresight / futures studies, and how this can help us re-imagine Anticipatory Democracy in the 21st century. A developmental narrative for the emergence of the network form in futures studies provides context for our understanding of new pathways. Within this we identify key emerging issues with implications for Anticipatory Democracy: instantiation, replication, openness and control. Explicated, these emerging issues provide a rich picture of the challenges and possibilities for building Anticipatory Democracy in the network era.

We believe network foresight holds great promise for promoting Anticipatory Democratic aims, and hope that we see great innovations in the years to come that brings citizens together to explore, imagine and create alternative futures and a global foresight commons that can help us all address and thrive in the face of our wicked challenges.