We live in stormy times. Accelerating change in technology and information is transforming our world, making it more difficult to predict and navigate. Opportunities and challenges alike are growing in scale and complexity, as reflected in massive fast-growing systems like Facebook.
It’s important to think about these things now and generate predictions and scenarios for possible futures, so that sensible actions can be taken today. In the case of Facebook, it’s worth considering the economic implications of a global network that could soon reach a billion people.
To address this and similar challenges, we’re developing Open Foresight – a social response to accelerating change. It’s a new process that crowdsources the future of given topics, as demonstrated by the Future of Facebook pilot project. It’s different because it structures data around established futures categories and methods, then synthesizes that information into easily digestible video format.
Using a STEEP Analysis to frame our questions, we probed the minds of experts for insights into how this company might leverage its thorough graph of social relationships, rich database of public sentiment, and Facebook Credits – its own virtual currency – to disrupt traditional economic infrastructures.
The most compelling ideas have been harvested to create the first Focus Video in a series of six. The goal of open foresight is to accelerate the rate of transmitting complex concepts in a manner that’s visually rich, engaging, and straightforward. If issues can be clarified, we can take the public dialogue to the next level of understanding.
What kinds of disruptions might Facebook cause in our global economic infrastructures? What are the opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to build the next big thing? With insights from Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly, Bank 2.0 authorBrett King, and Lucid Ventures founder Nova Spivack, clearer visions of the future can be formed.
Following in the tradition of crowdsourced knowledge initiatives like Wikipedia or the White House’s OpenGov, Open Foresight has the potential to spark a new generation of collaborative analysis, scenario development and roadmapping for topic areas ranging from small towns to large scale planetary issues.
Public participation is welcomed and essential as open foresight and the Future of Facebook video series unfold in the coming weeks and months. People of all ages, places and roles are encouraged to play and “pay it forward” by commenting, remixing, or starting entirely new offshoots of the project. All content has been licensed with a creative commons cc-by 3.0 share-alike license, making it free to rearrange, reuse and repurpose. Graphic and video participation are particularly encouraged!To find out more about the project and how to add your voice, check out futureoffacebook.com.
Venessa Miemis is a Media Studies graduate student at the New School in NYC, exploring what happens at the intersection of technology, culture, and communication. Connect with her at www.emergentbydesign.com and on Twitter @venessamiemis.