The last year or so has been very productive and I’ve produced several substantial pieces of work. One of these looked at the journal Foresight in some depth and came to some startling conclusions. An abridged version was published in the APF’s journal Compass. It can be found here under Research Notes on the Futures Archive page. Another is called Re-assessing the IT revolution and is shortly due for publication in another journal. A more recent piece concerns Integral futures and the search for clarity. Part of this contains a critique of some key figures (and organisations) from Silicon Valley and speculates on the steady construction of a new Panopticon – a repressive surveillance system – that already exists in some places. A draft of the paper has been placed on the Action Resources page (along with a stimulating piece by Ugo Bardi on The future of humankind after the great crash). Needless to say this is not reading for the faint-hearted.
Of the many books I’ve read during this time two stand out: This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein and Collision Course by Kerryn Higgs. A review of each will shortly appear in Best Futures / Foresight Books under Futures Archive.
Finally I am taking a look at an impossible-to-miss technical innovation that seems to be springing up everywhere. The thinking behind this new generation of high-tech advertising signs is truly astounding, as is the unapologetic but wholly unjustified sense of entitlement that they represent. Hence the working title for the piece is Rogue Signs. A draft will be placed on this site – along with several illustrations – when I’ve had time to finish it.
For some years I’ve been photographing street art while travelling. Over time I’ve accumulated a sample of some of the very best work around. But this is the first time that I’ve made some of these images available in calendar form. The images were taken in Toronto, Melbourne (of course!), Berlin, London, Wellington and Los Angeles. The rationale for reproducing them in this form is similar to that expressed below for the 2015 bird calendar. But there are also significant differences. I’ve outlined my views on ‘Appreciating and Attributing Street Art’ in a short, two page article of the same name elsewhere on this site. It can be found under Imaging on the Culture Jamming and Street Art page.
It is a pleasure to introduce our new bird calendar for 2015 – the fifth year running that we have done so. It’s not a commercial operation as we barely cover costs. But there are several intrinsic reasons why we do this. Foremost among them is the sheer delight in birds that we share with other people. Also, the feedback we’ve received on earlier calendars has been very positive. These images bring a little more beauty and light into our lives. Finally, it’s good to see some of the best of my work ‘liberated’ from the digital domain and issued in a more durable and accessible form.
For some time I was a subscriber to the on-line edition of the Sydney Morning Herald but no longer. The reason is that I became so very weary of being confronted with full screen digital ads, some of which were pointlessly repeated ad nauseam day after day. They did not encourage me to buy anything. They just spoiled the day. I wrote to the paper’s editors suggesting that it was ultimately a destructive practice. I urged them to reconsider and abandon it asap. I also expressed an interest in an ad-free version, should it ever become available. Read on …. (to open click here)
The US National Intelligence Council has produced a number of reports on the global outlook. Well-known and respected critic Michael Marien invited a number of credible futurists to respond to the latest one. The resulting issue of World Future Review published by the Washington-based World Future Society is, in my view, one of the best ever. I’m happy that my piece ‘Time to get real: a critique of Global Trends 2030 – Alternative Worlds’ was included. It can be found here under General Futures Papers.
A few months ago I received an invitation to speak at a Planet Talks session at the Womadelaide festival in early March. We were due to be heading overseas soon afterward so time would be short – but I decided to accept. I’m glad I did because the four day long weekend we’ve just had stands out as one of the most successful and enjoyable trips we’ve ever undertaken. In fact I don’t recall when I took part in any event that was as well organised as this one. (To read more go to the Action Resources 2014 section.)
The session I took part in was called Transforming Society and the other two speakers were Paul Gilding and Simon Holmes a Court. Robyn Williams was the host. It was broadcast in late May on the ABC program Big Ideas. Here is a link to the video recording.
Futures Studies in its modern incarnation has been around in one form or another for at least half a century. During that time it developed and evolved into a complex, globe spanning and diverse entity that can be hard to describe and explain to newcomers or interested others. Yet, despite an obvious need and various efforts a truly satisfactory and culturally aware introduction had proved elusive. Some ten years ago I had a conversation with Sardar about collaborating on one. The message that came back at the time was that publishers were simply ‘not interested.’ So the first thing to say about this handily diminutive and very welcome book is that I’m glad one publisher finally did see the point. Secondly, while no two people would approach such a book in the same way, I doubt if a better person could be found to take it on. As a former editor of Futures, and a formidable scholar and writer in a number of areas, there can be few anywhere better equipped to deliver the readable introduction we now have.
Read the rest of the review in Best Futures / Foresight Books (under Futures)
These are the titles of two public lectures I gave during 2013. The first, on caring for future generations, was the result of an invitation I received to give the second annual ‘Socratic Lecture’ at Thirroul, NSW, in March. The second, can the fall of civilisation be prevented? was given at Griffith University in Brisbane in November. As anyone who has followed my work will know, I’ve pursued these twin themes over a number of years and also written extensively about them (especially in The Biggest Wake-Up Call in History, 2010).
Stephen O’Grady, a communications officer at Griffith, very kindly perused some of the background documents and provided a very clear, concise and, I think, readable, two page overview of the November lecture that I’m making available here.
Caring for future generations… (To open click here)
In addition I’m also adding to the site an overview piece I wrote for a special edition of the journal On the Horizon (vol 21 no 3, 2013) edited by my colleague Dennis Morgan. The issue contained a number of papers that responded to The Biggest Wake-Up Call book.
Defending the future (To open click here)
Finally, three of the leading papers from this issue can also be found on the newly-updated page Biggest Wake-Up Call – Feedback (under Futures).
This is the title I chose for my first book written in Australia. It was published in 1988 by the Graduate School of Environmental Science, Monash University which, at that time, was headed up by my colleague Dr. Frank Fisher.
Now, 25 years later, I found myself reaching again for the term. The motive for so doing partly derives from a discussion I had in Melbourne a few weeks ago with a group of foresight practitioners. I felt that, while the spirit was certainly willing, there seemed to be a general lack of new ideas. I then discovered that the date of the general election – Saturday, 7th September – was also the very date that had been previously designated as Threatened Species Day.
But there was no hint of the latter in any of the media.
This reminded me, yet again, of how we privilege ourselves, our way of life and, in particular, the human economy above all else. It’s as if the natural world upon which we entirely depend, has simply been shoved into the background, as it were. So I set out to write a somewhat provocative ‘think piece’ about what this means and how Australian futurists and foresight practitioners could respond. Here is the result. I’ll most likely revise it again in the near future.
Recovering the Future: A New Agenda for Australian Futurists and Foresight Practitioners (To open click here)
Last year a number of people bought several copies of our bird calendar as special gifts for family and friends here in Australia as well as overseas. We were delighted with the positive responses that were relayed back to us. So this year we decided to get the calendar out a bit earlier. A Boobook Owl from the Lamington National Park graces the cover. Inside are 12 of the best pictures from this and earlier years. Apart from their sheer beauty, I like to think that bringing such images into one’s home reminds us of the values inherent in the wider natural world around us.