Professors Peter Bishop and Andy Hines from the Futures Studies program at the University of Houston joined Ian Punnett for a discussion on the techniques for long term forecasting and what futurists are seeing down the road for the world. Appearing during the third hour, futurists Garry Golden and Terry Grim discussed their research into emerging trends. "The future doesn't exist," mused Bishop, "it's much more a concept of our ideas and our images and our hopes and fears." While futurism can be used to extrapolate the status quo into the future, Hines was quick to point out that such an "expected future" rarely ever happens. Ideally, he said, "the whole point of the future is to change the present decisions" and to create a more preferable world.
On trends that the pair see becoming more prominent as time unfolds, Hines observed that the current consumer climate seems to moving away from material possessions and towards personal experiences. To that end, Bishop advised that businesses build connections with their customers and emphasize the positive feeling of the buying experience as much as the actual item being purchased. As far as potential new jobs that may become popular in the future, Hines put forward the vocation of "online reputation manager," where someone would oversee what is being said about a person or company on the Internet. Similarly, Bishop suggested that, as personal data mining becomes more prominent, people may begin selling their own information in order to earn credit similar to frequent flier miles.
In the first half of the third hour, futurist Gary Golden talked about his research into the Millennial Generation, people born between 1978 and 2000, which has begun to enter into the workforce. He explained that the Millennials are unique from preceding generations because they grew up in "relative economic prosperity," and thus tend to be more civic oriented, work collaboratively, and are optimistic about the future. Additionally, he noted that this generation is more comfortable with technology and are adaptive to the concept of blending their work and home lives. For emerging trends to look for in the future, Golden stressed further advancement of "vehicle electrification," where cars will feature more computerization beyond merely using electricity as a power source.
In the latter half of the third hour, Terry Grim discussed her work as a consultant for businesses seeking to gain an edge by using foresight. She said that often people get "tunnel vision" and end up being blindsided by changes outside their core industry which, in turn, effect their business. As an example, Grim cited the beverage industry, which did not foresee the emerging popularity of water, because their market research was focused on colas. "If they had framed the question differently," she said, "they would have gotten a different answer." One tactic for strengthening foresight that Grim shared was for people to "read out of their comfort zone," rather than strictly trade journals specific to one's own life and vocation.
In the first hour, Capt. Kelly Sweeney talked about the Greek tanker tragedy and lamented that "the first maritime story of the year is, unfortunately, one of death." Sweeney opined that it was likely a rogue wave that killed the ship's captain and chief engineer and also seriously injured the vessel's chief mate. On what the experience must have looked like, he speculated that it probably appeared "like a 4 story high wall of water washing over your head." Ultimately, he emphasized that the story stands as "a reminder, to everyone, of the dangers that merchant mariners face to bring all of us the things we need to live."
Also in the first hour, Galen Cook provided an update on the D.B. Cooper case. Based on the progress of his research, Cook declared that "2011 is the year D.B. Cooper is solved." He detailed how a number of letters allegedly written by Cooper to various newspapers have recently surfaced. Cook expressed confidence that these are genuine communiques from the notorious skyjacker. Additionally, he said that each of the cities where the letters were sent to, as well as their origin point, can be tied back to locations connected to Cook's main suspect in the case.
Residents of Beebe, Arkansas had their New Year's festivities take a Fortean turn, when over 1,000 dead black birds rained down from the sky just before midnight. Wildlife officials are baffled as to what may have caused the odd event, though lightning, hail, and firework-induced stress are being considered as possible culprits for the mass avian demise. More on this strange story here.
Bumper music from Saturday January 01, 2011