Share Share
Tweet Tweet
Forward Forward
Share Share

Futures Literacy

“Things no longer change over a generation or a decade, but from year to year, even month to month, creating new arenas for disruptive ideas and innovation to emerge… Inevitably, this leads us to reconsider the future and our place within it.”

This quote from Futurist Anne Lise Kjaer reflects the core of our Media Genius mission — to identify rapid disruption and consider lasting implications. Nothing demonstrates the increasing rate of change like the pandemic. Inconceivable scenarios became the norm before we had time to process them. But what if we had seen more of these effects coming six months ago? How can we better prepare for six months from now?

The World Economic Forum outlined four skills necessary for making a better world after COVID-19. Each supports the ability to imagine and make sense of the future — also known as futures literacy. The concept has been growing for a while (in fact, the r/futurology subreddit boasts 14.6 million members) but has recently taken off — increasingly becoming a corporate imperative, educational path, and even government mandate. 

Companies are attending foresight sessions hosted by future-focused organizations like the Institute for the Future, led by Futurist Marina Gorbis. They train guests to spot indicators of change, identify new possibilities, and discover patterns of innovation and disruption. And they're selling out. Extreme uncertainty has leaders realizing the ability to foresee future forces is key to survival through the pandemic and beyond. 

Students and universities see the need for this kind of thinking too. The academic disciplines of futures and foresight are 
growing globally. You can now get an undergraduate degree in Future Research in Hungary, a Masters in Foresight and Innovation in France, or a Ph.D. in Alternative Futures in the US. By mastering subjects like evolution, history, global culture, foresight, and innovation, these programs aim to tame current change, predict future change, and implement needed change.

Public spheres are also embracing Futurism. The
Dubai Future Foundation outlines an approach that places national future-readiness at its core. The initiative aims to activate future literacy across government entities, shaping Dubai and the events of the world before the future comes to them. They aren't alone — Brazil recently launched the #freethefuture movement to advocate for future literate societies. And in Paris, UNESCO held the first Global Futures Literacy Design Forum to help integrate futures literacy into government activities.

With so much uncertainty around COVID-19, the economy, elections, and beyond, it's tempting to avoid thinking beyond short-term plans. But foresight increases agility, which has already
shown to reduce the impact of crises on practicing companies. No wonder futures literacy has become the most desired skill across sectors.

Chris Perry


As always, if you find this newsletter valuable we would be grateful if you encouraged others to sign up by directing them here.
What We're Reading
Modern Content Canvas
In a Touch-Free World, the QR Code is Having Its Moment
By Victoria Turk, Wired

If you've visited a hotel or restaurant over the last few months, you've likely noticed the rise of the QR code. Once dismissed as a marketing gimmick, these black and white patterns have become the perfect touch-free link between the physical and digital world. How might brands take advantage of this newly popular space? 

Media Intelligence
The Chaos Agents
By Leah Sottile, The New York Times Magazine

Around the country, QAnon conspiracy theory-centered events have become a beacon for fringe thinkers: anti-vaxxers, internet trolls, hate groups, anti-government militias, and Americans who interpret face-covering regulations as an infringement of their constitutional freedoms. As membership in Facebook groups soar and the movement gains mainstream traction, including tacit approval from President Trump, QAnon has become impossible to ignore. 

Modern Content Canvas
DC FanDome Could Be The Future of Comic-Con
By Dais Johnston,  Inverse

In a time when so many events have moved online, it can be difficult to create an environment that caters to fans all over the world while still feeling exclusive. Where events like San Diego Comic-Con were reduced to a handful of recorded Zoom calls that lacked the magic of the in-person event, DC FanDome felt different. It felt exciting. The reasons for the event's success are numerous, but it all comes down to presentation.

Data Ethics
Fearing Coronavirus, a Michigan College is Tracking its Students with a Flawed App
By Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch
A small liberal arts school announced it would require students to download an app that tracks real-time locations around the clock and lets the school know when a student tests positive for COVID-19. And there is no way to opt-out. While some are applauding the thorough prevention plan, many students and parents worry that collecting and storing location and sensitive health data is bad for privacy.
55% of U.S. Social Media Users Say They Are ‘Worn Out’ by Political Posts and Discussions
By Monica Anderson and Brooke Auxier, Pew Research

Over half of social media users in the United States are exhausted by how much political content they see across platforms. These sentiments hold true across political parties. With the 2020 presidential election still more than two months away, how actively will users seek to avoid political content online? 

Modern Content Canvas
Fortnite Maker Epic Plays David to Apple's Goliath in App Store Showdown
By Alex Hern, The Guardian

After Apple pulled Epic's Fortnite from the App Store over an in-game payment dispute, Epic hit back with a lawsuit and a spoof advert casting Apple as Big Brother in “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite." While some think Epic is weaponizing young audiences for its own monetary gain, others praise the move as a necessary and creative fight against a company who once claimed to be part of the same battle. 

Emerging Technology
Facebook and NYU are Using AI to Dramatically Speed up MRI Imaging
By Ruth Reader, Fast Company
The US performs roughly 40 million MRI scans annually. But AI could dramatically reduce imaging time from an hour to just 15 minutes, saving about 30 million collective hours nationally per year. With COVID-19 still on the rise, where else might AI’s accuracy and speed combo be put to life-saving use? 
Deep Take
How (And Why) to Budget Now for Strategic Foresight in 2021
By Amy Webb, The Startup
Given the soul-crushing amount of uncertainty ahead, budget planning for FY21 will be a challenging, arduous process. Making allocations for signal tracking, scenario planning, and longer-term visioning might seem frivolous, or outright irresponsible, given the circumstances. But COVID-19 aftershocks are still erupting. If we don’t think about the next-order outcomes of all this ongoing change, we put organizations' short-term survivability and long-term growth at risk.
Copyright © 2020 Weber Shandwick

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp