Scanning Retrospective, No. 3

Foresight Snippets – No. 3

[Originally published] 15 December 2000

  • What price the “.tv” domain?
  • You’d better be good! Darth Vader is coming to the lecture hall
  • Everything old is new again: phone numbers vs URLs

Continue reading “Scanning Retrospective, No. 3”

Scanning Retrospective, No. 1

Foresight Snippets – No. 1

From the Foresight & Planning Unit
[Originally published] 17 November 2000
by Joseph Voros

  • Universities Begin Creating Palm-Sized Versions of Campus Web Pages
  • GM Goat Spins Web-Based Future
  • Stick Your Finger in Your Ear and Go “Ting-a-Ling-a-Loo!”

Continue reading “Scanning Retrospective, No. 1”

Futures Scanning – A Retrospective View

The background

In August 2000, I was hired as a strategic foresight analyst in the Foresight and Planning Unit (FPU) of the (then) Office of the Vice Chancellor at Swinburne University of Technology. Part of this role was to conduct futures ‘scanning’ – by looking at the education ‘landscape’ through a ‘foresight’ time-frame much longer than is usual in conventional strategic planning; in our case, it was 10-20 years out. This obviously means that today, in 2021, the ‘future landscape’ being ‘scouted’ back then has since come to pass and become history. Hence the motivation for this experiment – to look back at what were picked up then as impending signals of change, and to compare what was reported in those days as future possibilities with what eventually came to pass as historical actualities. It has taken two decades to reach this point of being able to conduct such a ‘retrospective longitudinal assessment’ – and hopefully it should prove to be both interesting and instructive. It may also allow some real-world-data calibration of the utility of the heuristic principles for scanning described in the previous post. Continue reading “Futures Scanning – A Retrospective View”

Heuristic principles for scanning

As a futures scanner ‘back in the day’ (as they say), working in the corporate area of Swinburne responsible for undertaking organisational foresight and planning, and in the time since, I came to employ several heuristics or principles of scanning that I had found empirically to be useful. There are about ten of these that I can think of right at this moment, which I will enumerate below. But before I proceed, though, let me first explain one of the (many) models we used in our teaching in the old Swinburne Master of Strategic Foresight (MSF). Continue reading “Heuristic principles for scanning”

Evidence of the future in the present

One of the principal practices involved in doing futures work is known as ‘scanning’. This term has a few variants — sometimes ‘environmental scanning’, sometimes ‘horizon scanning’, sometimes something else again — and these are often used interchangeably. I prefer to use the term ‘environmental scanning’ when the scanning pertains to the more proximal environment(s) of the organisation or entity that is the primary perspective from which the scanning is done, such as the market or industry in which it sits, while reserving the term ‘horizon scanning’ for the more distal aspects of the wider social, national or even international contexts. This is a fairly loose heuristic, but to me it helps connote the relative ‘closeness’ of the organisation’s ‘operating environment’ vs the relative ‘distance’ of the wider contextual ‘horizon’. Continue reading “Evidence of the future in the present”

More Big History outputs

There have been two more formal publications on Big History recently: one a journal article – hinted at in the previous post – written in part to honour the memory of Erich Jantsch, the other a book chapter, as well as an informal podcast episode in the FuturePod series.

Continue reading “More Big History outputs”

And that’s a wrap! The End of the Swinburne MSF.

Today was the last class ever of the Swinburne MSF (2001 — 2018) — something that has been coming for a long time (announcement of closure was back in May 2016).

There is a KudoBoard where people have posted their memories of the MSF.

Q: What now?

A: Trust emergence…

Chapters and an Article

The book chapter from which I took the posting on the Futures Cone last February has now been published online by Springer International. It is available to those who have SpringerLink subscriptions (many universities do, so try logging-into your University library and looking for the SpringerLink database) via the doi: link given below. I’ll be checking whether the possibility of self-archiving exists, which means I would be able to deposit a pre-publication (note: not the final) version of the chapter at Swinburne ResearchBank for wider availability. Continue reading “Chapters and an Article”

The Futures Cone, use and history

From time to time people ask about the Futures Cone, and how it came about. Here is a brief history of how I came across it before adapting it to suit my use of the concept, and began using an early version of the Futures Cone diagram (i.e., with fewer categories) in 2000 when working as a foresight analyst for Swinburne University (before becoming an academic in the Master of Strategic Foresight).  The text in this post is excerpted from a chapter submitted to the Handbook of Anticipation, ed. Roberto Poli (Springer International). The “formal” citation for the chapter/book is:

Voros, J 2017, ‘Big History and anticipation: Using Big History as a framework for global foresight’, in R Poli (ed.) Handbook of anticipation: Theoretical and applied aspects of the use of future in decision making, Springer International, Cham. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-31737-3_95-1,

while the text in this post is from the section of that chapter entitled ‘Types of Alternative Futures’, pp. 10-13, and the “cone” diagram itself is: Fig. 4, p. 11.

Continue reading “The Futures Cone, use and history”

Q&A with a (Big History) Futurist

Here is a Q&A I did with Kathryn Ford, Project Coordinator at the Big History Institute at Macquarie University, for Issue 6 of the BHI newsletter, Threshold 9.

Interestingly, ‘Threshold 9’ (i.e., the ‘next’ Threshold in the 8-so-far main Thresholds of Big History) has been on my research agenda for quite a few years now, so it is a great pleasure to be able to talk more widely about the broader long-term future (as well as Threshold 9) in an issue of BHI’s Threshold 9 😉

I hope you enjoy it. Once the videos from the conference are uploaded, I’ll be writing about and linking to some of them in later posts.

Until then, remember: “keep looking to the future”. (I wonder what that would be in Latin 😉

Big History Institute newsletter Threshold 9 Issue 6: Q&A with a Futurist.

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