The ‘Scanning Retrospective’ series

Background & Setup

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.
Heuristic principles for scanning
As a futures scanner ‘back in the day’ (as they say), I came to employ several heuristics or principles of scanning that I had found empirically to be useful. There are about nine of these that I can think of right at this moment. The list is unlikely to be completely exhaustive, however, and it may well end up including even more before I’m through with this extended series of posts on scanning.
Two more heuristic principles for scanning
Here I add two more principles to those given earlier.
Futures Scanning – A Retrospective View
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’. What will the result be? Let’s find out …

The Posts

Scanning Retrospective, No. 1
• 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!”
Scanning Retrospective, No. 2
• Cellular Phones: Are They Safe to Use?
• You’re Hired — Now Stay Home!
• Lasered Lawns
Scanning Retrospective, No. 3
• 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
Scanning Retrospective, No. 4
• Does Reading Harry Potter Cause Global Warming?
• Oops! A New Bio-Weapon
• Back to the Future: 2001 — Is Tablet Computing About to Go Mainstream?
Scanning Retrospective, No. 5
• The Untethered Campus
• A Hydrogen-Fueled “People’s Car”
• Living Under the Hole in the Sky

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