The future is already here…

20 February 2008 at 10:04 am Leave a comment


Andrew Curry writes:

One of the best-known quotes about futures work – “the future’s already here, it’s just unevenly distributed” – is by the novelist William Gibson, and it’s one of several quotes we sometimes use to introduce futures concepts at workshops. But it’s become dulled by familiarity; a couple of months ago, at a workshop with our sometime collaborator Wendy Schultz, she wondered out loud if there was another way of making the point that there were almost always clues around us as to how the future would evolve, as long as we listened for them (“weak signals”, in futures jargon).

So Russell Davies’ recent post suggesting that the Gibson line “needed flipping around” raised a wry smile. I think the problem is that the line has become so familiar to practitioners that it has floated free from its meaning – it signifies that the speaker does some futures and and knows that very familiar William Gibson line. But it still has meaning for audiences who are new to, or unfamiliar with, futures’ work, who haven’t heard it before; they get it straightaway. It’s about the listeners, not the speaker.

As for the quote: Gibson himself has suggested an alternative:

“Glancing sideways is becoming more generally recognized as about the best way of doing what we used to call futurism.”

[Thanks to the end of cyberspace for the link to this].

Image of William Gibson by Fred Armitage with thanks to Wikipedia

Entry filed under: future.

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The Futures Company blog

The Futures Company was created through the merger of Henley Centre HeadlightVision and Yankelovich in 2008. This is the blog of the new company - but the former posts from the former Henley Centre Headlightvision blog still can be found here.

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