This is a list of favourite futures writers, researchers and doers who have influenced my thinking this year. I have called them ‘favourites’ because they represent my personal lens on futures rather than being ‘top’ on some sort of artificial list. I love compiling these each year as they become my holiday revision and refreshment for all stuff futures. Now to sit down and get them read again!
Scan the whole post first then check out the ones you want to know more about by clicking on the green headings. This will link to each ‘futures favourite.’
Maree Conway is one of my ‘go to’ people for all things connected with foresight and futures. She has a deep understanding of this space and has expanded her offerings to include some foresight courses that provide excellent grounding material. She has a new membership offering for 2022 and I suggest you check it out at Futures Foresight Membership. Maree is one of the best and just a hop, skip and jump away in Melbourne (yay a friendly timezone for chats).
The Museum of Futures is an interactive exhibition that highlights the role we all play in creating different futures. It is based in the City of Sydney but virtual exhibitions are available online. Two recent exhibitions were Pandemic Pivots and The Future of Work. You can check out past virtual tour artefacts online, for example Our air quality up in smoke . Claire Marshall and Mel Rumble bring together their rich expertise in this space and they are both pretty amazing!
Flash Forward Flash Forward: An Illustrated Guide to Possible (And Not So Possible) Tomorrows takes readers on a journey from speculative fiction to speculative “fact.” Producer and host of the podcast Flash Forward, Rose Eveleth poses 12 provocative questions about our future. What I especially loved about this book is that each of the 12 provocations starts with a comic, then follows with Rose explaining the context and sensemaking. This format really drew me in as a reader. I couldn’t put this book down!
The Millennium Project is an excellent example of robust, ongoing international research using global expertise. Their latest research has produced the Work/Technology 2050 report – a critically important resource for those interested in the future of workers and the impacts of future technologies. This research was conducted over three years using a Real-Time Delphi approach resulting in the development of three scenarios and a series of related actions. I especially like the in-depth nature of this work and the multiple layers of research.
Our Common Agenda looks ahead for the next 25 years and explores the possibilities of global cooperation and inclusivity. This United Nations report and Our Future Agenda provide a vision and plan for future generations. 2021 has been a stink of a year so we all need to draw breath, consider the possibilities for 2022 and keep in mind the long view of being a good ancestor. It reminds me of the amazing video created during the first lockdown – Papatuanuku Breathes. You should check this out too.
Stefan Bergheim’s book Futures – Open to Variety: A manual for the wise use of the later-than-now is an excellent resource for those wanting to become more futures literate. This book provides a wealth of tools and approaches in an easy to use format and language. I also valued the experience that Stefan brings to this space. He has heaps of experience as an adviser to the German government and brings positive futures into the light. I appreciated his world view delivered in small bite sized chunks, making it one of my favourite books to dip in to.
Tokona te Raki continues to be a source of inspiration and connection for futures work in Aotearoa New Zealand and for me personally. Eruera and the team have continued to design futures work that is grown from a Māori perspective and in particular from the Ngāi Tahu creation story. I have such a lot to learn in this space but I have so valued being connected to the journey and exploring different approaches to time. An indigenous world view is critical to consider in the futures space, in decolonising the future and putting equity and ethics into our work. I am keenly aware that, as an ally, I can deepen my thinking but should only use this important work with respect and after seeking approval.
I am a real fan of Amy Webb and have a number of her books. My favourite so far is The Signals are Talking but I am very excited to hear that her new book The Genesis Machine: Our Quest to Rewrite Life in the Age of Synthetic Biology is due out mid-February. Amy is the founder of The Future Today Institute, which provides a wealth of open source foresight tools and information around current signals, especially in the tech space. They have just published their 2021 Tech Trends Report, which is well worth a deep dive and it is also worth signing up to their newsletter as part of your scanning regime. Seriously, Amy’s work is deep, meaningful and highly credible.
These 120+ podcasts are absolute gold. The team of foresight practitioners based in Melbourne, Australia gather voices from the international futures and foresight community. They share their journeys and favourite tools. I used to listen to these at the gym but found that there were too many gems that I wanted to write down! If you want a place to start, check out a conversation between two of my favourite foresight leaders Maree Conway and Peter Hayward.
Gerd Leonhard has created ‘Keynote Television’, an ideal space to share his vast knowledge as a futurist and humanist, at a time when travel is more difficult. I especially enjoyed his post on The Great Reducationism and his take on the Metaverse. It is something I want to research a lot more next year, and links to a previous blogpost I wrote on Uniquely Human is a Strength. I suggest you also check out his work on The Good Future as a place of hope and possibility. There is enough on Gerd’s site to have a week long futures binge!
I only discovered Nicklas Larsen, who works at the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, in the last month. Nicklas writes many diverse and interesting articles about applied futurism. I sent the link to my colleagues at the Ōtautahi Futures Collective because I knew his posts had something for everyone in our team! Here are just a few of his posts: Teaching Futures, Queer Futures, African Futures, Climate Futures and Decolonising Futures. There is something for you…
I’d like to give a shout out to the Association of Professional Futures for designing strategies to better connect with members from across the globe. When you live ‘down under’ it is sometime difficult to connect with time zones from the other side of the planet. Thanks to Shermon Cruz and the team for listing times for Australia and NZ and providing two alternatives for some meetups. Of course I can look up the time conversions with my app but it somehow shows you care when you list them all! To me it is the difference between recognising the diversity of APF members and actually being inclusive in your design.
So there you go…my 12 favourites in one post. Now I have a place to go back to over the holiday break and hopefully so do you. In closing this post I would like to make a special mention of Metafuture and in particular Sohail Inayatullah and Adam Sharpe. Sohail has taught us so much about futures studies and provided us with the many tools, practices and mindsets that guide our work. Adam is also founder of Futurely and does meaningful work in the youth futures space. Thanks so much to you both for your ongoing support of the development of the Ōtautahi Futures Collective, your mentoring of some of our team and your absolute openness to support the future. You are both truly servant leaders and inspirational human beings.