Venessa Miemis: Open Foresight and the Future of Facebook

This is the third interview in this series on foresight in the network era. Venessa Miemis is one of the originators of the Open Foresight concept. In some regards it is a re-iteration of an older idea, Anticipatory Democracy, developed by Clement Bezold, Alvin Toffler and others, but the deliberative and generative nature of the anticipation is squarely situated in our current peer to peer revolution. Venessa is an outstanding proponent of developing new anticipatory processes for societal transformation.

In this interview she discusses the origins of the concept, she details the methodological approaches she has used to make foresight a public processes, and she reflects on the deeper principles involved in creating Open Foresight as an inclusive and replicate-able processes.  There is a very strong organic connection between the Open Foresight approach and the drive / listening for societal transformation. As the complexity and challenges of the 21st century deepens, this is one approach that will provide people with ways to make sense of their worlds in empowering and creative ways.

Jake Dunagan: The Institute for the Future and Gamification for Social Foresight

This is the second part in a series on network based approaches to foresight. I was fortunate to catch up with colleague Jake Dunagan, director of research at the Institute for the Future (IFTF). IFTF is doing absolutely remarkable work bringing together social media, gaming, and foresight (among many other things). Significant is IFTF’s social focus, on addressing sustainability, poverty, security, food, and many other important issues. Jake is a brilliant mind and eloquent voice, and gives us a great window into the work at IFTF. In interviews to come, I really hope to follow up with him on his Doctoral dissertation work in neuropolitics, governance design, alternative futures, and the communication of foresight,  and looking forward to learning about other works in progress.

Elina Hiltunen: Finpro and Crowdsourcing Foresight

This is the first in a series of interviews with futurists using state of the art network based approaches to foresight work. Network based approaches can be seen as those which utilize ICT technologies together with collaborative cultural frameworks (e.g. peer to peer) to co-generate futures thinking, strategy and policy. In this first part, I interview Elina Hiltunen, director of What’s Next Consulting.

I consider Elina Hiltunen’s work outstanding in this regard. In her recent article in the Journal of Futures Studies, called Crowdsourcing the Future, Elina Hiltunen discusses the impressive foresight initiative at Finpro. Finpro has run a crowdsourced foresight program for a number of years, which helps inform decision making for Finnish industry. She writes “When an organisational foresight process is linked to the strategy process, foresight becomes a serious asset.” What I find intriguing are new metaphors and language discussing collective intelligence and the wisdom of crowds:

The wisdom of crowds is a concept that has become more popular in public discussion because of a couple of bestselling books: the Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki and Wikinomics – How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. The idea behind the wisdom of crowds is that a crowd of people, without knowing each other’s opinions, make better choices than selected experts. According to Surowiecki (2004: XVII) “[if] you put together a big enough and diverse enough group of people and ask them to ‘make decisions affecting matters of general interest’, that group’s decision will, over time, be ‘intellectually [superior] to the isolated individual’, no matter how smart or well-informed he is.

In this interview she discusses her work, how she helped create Finpro and the crowdsourced foresight model, its strategy, key principles, the rationale that drives the approach, and the ideas, authors, books, theories that  guide her work.

The consistent question that is raised in my mind and that I raise here is, can such approaches be used to enable popular foresight engagements and channeled into action projects which address the world’s great 21st century challenges? What can we learn here toward building super-charged approaches to large scale collaborative inquiry and action that will help us to navigate a turbulent 21st century?