Skip navigation.

What will this next decade look like?

2010 Map of the Decade

Superstructing the Next Decade: 2009 Ten-Year Forecast

We're excited to make the 2009 Ten-Year Forecast materials—Superstructing the Next Decade—available online.

Communities: Citizens of Sustainability

For years, advocates of sustainable corporate practices have focused on green marketing. They have documented a growing segment of consumers with so-called green values and have created high-value products that appeal to these consumers. This strategy has catapulted Whole Foods into a leadership role in retail food and has perhaps inspired Wal-Mart to follow suit.

The future of aid and Africa

It isn’t long since Dambisa Moyo's book Dead Aid was published. For the most part, people without experience in either development work or Africa thought she was being too extreme and taking her stance (all large multilateral aid to Africa should stop within 5 years) as a way to get attention and become famous. While I understand this reaction, I find it both sad and insulting as it undermines anything Moyo states as being simply sensational.

Asia: Chinese Consumer Collectives

The emergence of the Chinese middle-class is changing the world. The next ten years will see the growing impact of a distinctly Chinese form of Consumer culture—new kinds of urban buying collectives, rooted in China’s socialist legacy and enabled by communications technologies. Serving there new consumer collectives will require distinctly new strategies in product development, marketing, the retail experience, and customer service.

Culture: Digital Natives, Civil Spaces

A new youth media literacy is emerging. As the authors of cultural products, today’s young people are driving a rapid expansion of participative media—as well as a shift in the authority of authors. While this new literacy demands more personal skills in both producing media and evaluating them critically, it is also enabling more collaborative and commons-based forms of civic engagement.

Politics: Participatory Panopticon

Participatory panopticon is a world in which we record our lives as well as the lives of those around us. Where everything is potentially on the record, often from multiple perspectives; not only is privacy a thing of the past but potentially secrecy as well. Such a world isn’t necessarily intentional; instead, it’s the emergent result of individually reasonable technological and social choices, choices we have made, and are continuing to make today.

Demographics: Extreme Longevity

A growing number of scientists are working to uncover the biological clues as to why we age—and what we can do about it. In an age of accelerated technological change, it’s easy to forget that demographic changes, particularly those related to age and longevity, are slow. However, they are relentless and can have a tremendous impact over the long term. A population that regularly lives to be 110 or 120 in robust, active bodies must confront some fundamental questions about how societies are structured. Economic issues of retirement, financial planning, and social security may be the most obvious, but basic questions about human relationships may be more profound. What does it mean to be married for “as long as you both shall live,” when you may be living for another 100 years? What kind of relationship can one have with great-great-great-grandchildren or –grandparents?

Finance: Intangible Reforms

Many influential investors, seeking improved ways of detecting undervalued companies, have identified intangible assets as the ultimate creators of future value. New tools have emerged for quantifying these alternative capitals. Think about the increase in companies incorporating corporate social responsibility (CSR) metrics into their public communications. Natural and social catastrophes will be in the forefront of driving stronger alternative capitals. As we become more aware of the increasing uncertainty and vulnerability of the following years, we will look at intellectual and/or social capital as drivers for protecting our surroundings.

Manufacturing: Do It Yourself?

3D printers have lead to rapid prototyping and a made a significant impact on product design. However, rapid prototyping is now morphing into rapid, high-end manufacturing such as hearing-aid production. Early versions of machines that can fabricate electronics and displays alongside mechanical structures will be more widely available by the end of the decade.

Syndicate content