Calling all futurespotters here. I have the honour of being asked to give a talk about Spot The Future at an event called Foresight for Development. It will take place in Istanbul on 16-17th of June, under the banners of UNDP-CIS. I am excited about the opportunity to meet people who do good work in foresight, like Noah Raford: however, the timing is not right. @Inga Popovaite and @Benjamin Renoust are hard at work, but the draft reports will only be ready at our Futurespotters event at the end of the month. The final ones will be then written on the basis of the focus group work we will carry out in Tbilisi.
I will focus mostly on the methodology, of course: but still, it seems like a shame not to give any hint at what is coming through the data. After a conversation with @Nadia, I propose to say the following:
- STF methodology has been surprisingly successful in digging out interesting people and projects at the edge that were not on the radar of UNDP country offices. Examples are Jumpstart and the open data scene in Georgia; the tactical urbanism scene in Egypt, as well as individual innovators like @Abdo with his Jozour project or @amiridina with her Oasis Game. The surprise element comes from the fact that we were able to do this without ever having been in the country and without speaking the language, just working with local connectors. The exception seems to be Armenia, where @Lurglomond and his crew already had a good network and we were not as successful as making additions to it (@Said Hamideh is now running a new outreach operation on Armenian Facebook, let's see if we can make some new discoveries).
- There is a clear cross-country thread: everybody seems to perceive the need for more collaborations and better information spread across the three STF countries.
- Efforts in fostering collaboration seem to have high returns. Following the physical workshops, we have seen a wave of collaboration and scheming, certainly in-country (Georgians have been holding bi-weekly meetings ever since), but also with some spillover – check out this Armenian-Egyptian conversation about carpooling. It will be interesting to see if more cross-country collaboration spawns at Futurespotters in Tbilisi.
- Foresight done the Edgeryders way seems to be biased towards action. People are happy to talk about what they do, and that their experiences are used as datapoints for foresight. But, in return for their involvement, they ask for action opportunities. A fairly concrete project about open source software is being discussed in Georgia, with the involvement of edgeryders from Egypt, Sweden and the UK.
If confirmed, these data could be interpreted as a sign that innovators at the edge are reorganizing to take advantage of collective intelligence phenomena, working in a distributed but more informationally connected way. Policy implications would be clear: efforts in bringing people together, building community scaffolding structure, seeding skills, and fostering horizontal community-to-community relationships are likely to help changemakers doing whatever it is they want to do, which will differ from country to country.
In case you are wondering about the photo, it is there because I am riding my motorcycle to Istanbul. My last ride, very probably: ending my motorcycling career in style