The ‘Scanning Retrospective’ series

Background, Setup & Continuing Elaboration

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), working in the corporate area of Swinburne responsible for undertaking organisational foresight and planning, and 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.
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 …
Citation managers for futures scanning
During our futures scanning – doing what I like to sometimes call ‘futures intelligence analysis’, which therefore makes us ‘futures intelligence analysts’ – we need a way to capture and retain the information about the scanning ‘hits’ we find.
‘Futures Intelligence’
In an earlier post I mentioned the term ‘futures intelligence’ in the context of the activity of gathering information about the future and undertaking what I like to call ‘futures intelligence analysis’. Here I want to expand briefly upon the multi-faceted concept of ‘futures intelligence’ itself, and two complementary ways that I think the term can be used.

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
Scanning Retrospective, No. 6
  • A University That Wants Students to Stay Away from Class
  • Report: On-line Training ‘Boring’
  • Setting Standards for Web-Ed
Scanning Retrospective, No. 7
  • Would You Like a Mobile Phone With That?
  • Cloning: Could Humans Be Next?
  • A Framework for Making Sustainability a Practical Reality
Scanning Retrospective, No. 8
  • Research in the Business World
  • Cashing In on the Future
  • Privatising the University — the New Tragedy of the Commons
Scanning Retrospective, No. 9
  • Waves Run This Power Plant
  • The Singularity
Scanning Retrospective, No. 10
  • Trends Affecting Education for the Next 10 Years
  • Dolly Cloners Abhor Human Tests
  • An Oath for Scientists?
Scanning Retrospective, No. 11
  • Memes and Cultural Evolution
  • The OECD Environmental Outlook is Released
  • The Clock of the Long Now
Scanning Retrospective, No. 12
  • The Hot New Medium: Paper
  • The Antibiotics Crisis
  • Homeopathy — Thanks for the Memory
Scanning Retrospective, No. 13
  • Back to the Future 2: 2001 — Memories are Made of Glass
  • You’ve Heard of GMOs; What About GMAs — Genetically Modified Athletes?
  • Thunderbirds are GO!
Scanning Retrospective, No. 14
  • An Increasingly Thirsty Future Leading to Water Wars?
  • Privatising the Water of Life
  • Cloud Catchers
Scanning Retrospective, No. 15
  • Feeling Poorly? It Could Be Affluenza
  • Tired of Fast Life? Try “Slow Food”
  • The Battle for the Hearts and Minds of Children — Truax vs The Lorax
  • The Ghost in the Machine
Scanning Retrospective, No. 16
  • The 200-Year Present
  • Life Extension and Immortality
  • Scientist Says Mind Continues After Brain Dies
Scanning Retrospective, No. 17 – Special Issue: Wildcards
  • Suddenly, the World Changes…
  • Britain Says It Is Taking Asteroid Impact Threat Seriously
  • Searching for ET at Home

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