One powerful technique in futures studies to get people to think about potential scenarios is the “future news headlines” game. For example:
- 2024: Ireland rolls tanks into London
- 2020: Cash officially outlawed in the United States
- 2030: Soylent Citizens program assists with healthcare budget crisis
Yeah, the last one is nice and creepy. But that’s the point, to send you out into the future and see something aberrant and interesting that shocks you into asking what trends might develop to get the world to that point. Then you ask, OK what do we do in that situation? How does that change us? How can we avoid this kind of outcome?
I just found this 1999 Garry Trudeau cartoon that forecast with scary accuracy how the merger of the political and entertainment industries could favor the rise of one of America’s most shameless hucksters as a candidate for president. The way this is presented, it’s almost a trend analysis and scenario illustration – that the media was losing its ability to choose coverage rationally and would be forced to follow whichever provided more ratings.
It would have been a top-shelf piece of futures work if Trudeau mentioned the Internet’s role in this, but that’s too high a standard to impose. This is still brilliant, and sad that we’ve arrived here seventeen years later.