P2P Futures of Futures Studies

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Jose Ramos proposes six paths:

1. Communion in diversity

"Communion in diversity means that, even though we represent radical hybridity, mutating into new contexts, we are drawing upon each other’s knowledge and experience in order to inspire ourselves and continue to evolve and mutate what we do. We need the field of futures as a space to gather and evolve in community. And our capacity to be creative requires understanding the foundations and development of the field: empirical, systems, interpretive, critical, participatory, action-oriented etc. Our individuation is not mutually exclusive to our communion.

2. The end of identity

Along with hybrid identities, in which we become some freakish mutant futurist that actually provides value for people, I also want to put forth the somewhat contradictory idea of an end to identity. I know this sounds either contradictory or impossible, how can anyone let go or give up their identity, it follows us like our own shadow.

But we can be a little bit different. I believe we must be different. In a world in which nations are armed to the teeth with weapons that could destroy humanity within an hour, where hyper nationalisms distorted collective projections of the foreign Other erupt across media-scapes, where economic warfare is waged not just by nations but by a transnational capitalist class, we, whatever we call ourselves, must go beyond identities which serve the one to the exclusion of the other – whether this is US interests vs. non-US, or Chinese interests vs. non-Chinese, or Google’s interests vs. non-Google, Futurist vs. non-Futurist. Paraphrasing David Held (2005), we share the very same planetary destiny.

We know we need global collaborative approaches to address even our local challenges. We know that it means bringing people together from across nations, from across ethnicities, from across genders, that are not exclusivist, but which include, connect and serve common interests.

3. Global Foresight Commons

And thus it is really the time for a global foresight commons. Humanity will weather the storms of the 21st century for a number of reasons. One of those just mentioned relates to a new identity, a species consciousness with respect for all life, neo-humanism, we are all one, brothers and sisters on a small dots in the middle of space.

But also it is because we will create a global foresight commons, drawing on web infrastructure, networks, governmental and corporate resources, and civil society, across every country in every region involved, collectively we will build humanity’s collective foresight potential. They will be systems with granular complexity, ease of access for popular engagement, but scaling for specialized, tailored and targeted interventions. It will belong to everybody, commons-based. It will engage people in collective systems recognition that reframes problem-solving, dancing across the myriad of wicked issues and futures, building on each’s thinking in a stigmergic process, creating collective intelligence, activating people and communities toward wise responses, creating a virtuous ecosystem from foresight to innovation to media to social change. This generation, young, old and middle aged, will do this. People in futures and those on the margin. This will be the generation that creates a futures oriented world environment organization, and a liquid democracy for the protection of our oceans. This is the generation that will create the platforms, infrastructure, and processes that will supercharge global collaboration.

4. Communication of foresight

Foresight the in 21st century will change dramatically, in my estimation. It will incorporate arts, drama, games, narrative, it will be rich in communications approaches that allows people to experience temporality in powerful ways. Our futures will become a global conversation, not just the preserve of specialists, but something which engages many in a conversation about their shared and distinct futures. I believe we are just at the very beginning of tapping the possibilities and potentials in linking new communications strategies and approaches with futures, in particular through trans-mediated approaches.

5. Experiential and embodied foresight

Experience is key. Whether this is the experience of an idea, the experience of an action, the experience of a workshop, or a project, we are always in the present moment. The future is not out there, it is within our own consciousness, it is embodied. I believe that the experiential basis of futures needs to come to the fore.

This includes a wide variety of action-oriented approaches to futures, anticipatory action learning, action research, innovation oriented foresight, communications oriented foresight. This also includes a deep appreciation for context specific adaptive approaches. What are people’s lived experiences, and how can futures be a resource for people / communities in their specificities? And the importance of embodied cognition, that billions of people already think about the future, already have assumptions / images about the future, and in fact there are already a variety of “foresight tribes” that have particular futures orientations: the Occupy movement, the World Social Forum process’ “Another World if Possible”, WEF at Davos, Kurzweilians / Singulatarians, Collapsists, Descentists, Business as Usualists, Retro Futurists, etc. What practitioners have tools, frameworks and theories to help us understand this embodied temporality of “foresight tribes”? We need some ethnography and need to begin to understand the embodied cognition of our futures. It is already out there, sitting tacitly, a bit like gravity.

Ronfeldt (1996) suggested the network era is one in which global citizenry bring forth a future oriented consciousness. We need to get deeply ethnographic, and begin to understand the sticky nature of temporality among people that have never ever heard of futures studies. It is in people’s heads, in communities across networks, we need to pay attention, and not pretend that ‘we’ are the only ones who actually think about the futures.

6. Integrative foresight

Finally, for me futures in the 21st century is a highly integrative affair. It is a movement across spirit, mind and body, linking arts and science, experiment-experience-reflection-abstraction, across the material and the ideational, across diverse communities of practices, weaving together new context specific holisms that provide news steppingstones for humanity to walk into the 21th century awake, alive, responsible and empowered." (http://www.jfs.tku.edu.tw/17-3/S13.pdf)