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What if Self-Tracking Goes Mainstream?

Does the future include everyone measuring themselves in some way and contributing that data to research? Quite possibly, but it’s more complicated than that.

Look Forward, and Carry a Big Stick

What is available to human experience is a result of the interaction between our brains, our biological bodies, and our environment (itself the result of social, historical, technological, and political processes). Our capacity to imagine 'what's possible' relies on neurological scaffolding that has been shaped by our current individual and collective knowledge and experience, often blinding us to a wide range of alternative futures.

On the intersection of design and futures

For some time I've been thinking about how trends in computing and design might affect the way that futurists work: how they could be used to sharpen our research methods, create new ways of interacting with audiences, and help people see and act on the future more effectively.

I've pulled these thoughts together in an essay on my blog. As I explain in the introduction,

I approach this from two directions. First, I describe how design can improve futures. In particular, I argue, research techniques developed by designers-- particularly their close attention to human-device interaction-- could sharpen thinking about, and forecasting of, the future of technology. Second, I describe the contribution futures can make to design. A combination of new technologies and challenges, I contend, are creating an opportunity to design products that can guide people to make better-informed choices about how they can be used, to reinforce behaviors that help users reach long-term goals, and to create a heightened awareness of the future.

This could have profound implications for futures. It would shift the profession from one that communicates through texts, mainly influences leaders and elites, and influences strategic processes, to one that communicates through things, influences large number of people, and informs everyday decision-making. But this is an essential transformation, as it would give us the ability to help solve the critical problems of the 21st century-- problems that, I contend, futures as it currently is practiced is ill-equipped to confront.

The complete essay is available here.

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