‘futures studies…is a field of intellectual and political activity concerning all sectors of the psychological, social, economic, political and cultural life, aiming at discovering and mastering the extensions of the complex chains of causalties, by means of conceptualisations, systematic reflections, experimentations, anticipations and creative thinking. Futures studies therefore constitute a natural basis for subnational, national and international, and both interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary activities tending to become a new forum for the basis of political decision making’. 1
Futures studies combines many different processes and schools of thought into different applications used to analyze and think about the future. (see Wikipedia:Futures_techniques)
Because of the effectiveness of Wiki TheoryBuilding, people have begun to use wiki software as an open and commons-based platform to explore the future in a collaborative way. Using wiki to explore futures takes advantage of the “wisdom of crowds” in thinking about the future and employing futures tools. It also potentially takes advantage of Reed’s law, by lowering the barrier to entry and creating a larger potential pool of minds to draw from. Future Wiki is one example that employs collaborative environmental scanning, scenarios, and timelines in analyzing the future. Collaborative environmental scanning in wikis is taking place at Future Wiki. It is also being applied to the subject of open source software at Open reSource wiki. It is also being applied to the subject of emerging areas of scientific endeavor at Protoscience wiki. Future History (and “ Backcasting“) techniques are explored at 2010 virtual wiki .
Jamais Cascio has written about the concept of “ open source scenario planning“. (Cascio’s Open The Future blog explores many ideas related to collaborative futures studies concepts). Cascio suggests that wikis might be too high maintenance for effective scenario building, and the comments section of his open source scenario building explores other possible collaborative scenario building knowledge commons ideas.
There are already wikis, like Future Wiki and Scenario Thinking Wiki, that are employing scenario planning and building ideas. Scenario Thinking Wiki, for instance, employs the concept of building scenarios around “ driving forces“. A current overview of the driving forces is here.
The problem with using wikis that Cascio talks about may not originate with wikis being too high maintenance, but rather it may be that people are not educated in effective use of wikis. Often wikis are counter intuitive to the way that people have been educated for years about how work is done and problems are solved. So, there needs to be a good system for educating people in the use of any social software before it can be expected to be effective.
Current collection of resources del.icio.us/srose/openfutures
1. Masini, E. & Samset, K. Recommendations of the WFSF General Assembly. WFSF Newsletter June 1975, p.15