Voice of America covered the World Future Society's conference this summer, and here is their little story: Futurists Consider Trends, Look to the Future [click on the links there to download or view the video].
An American inventor once said, "We should all be concerned about the future because we will have to spend the rest of our lives there".
With that in mind, perhaps, an international gathering of so called futurists, attended the annual conference of the World Future Society recently, to discuss their views and concerns about tomorrow's world.
VOA Paul Sisco reports.
At least one of our members complained about how our organization is being cast in a bad light in this news clip, that it makes us look like a bunch of eccentrics. [Substitute "futurists" for "Claymates," and you'll see what I'm getting at.] It's actually a professional futurists' listserv where the angsting is taking place - you know, one of those insiders' back channels.... [this should sound familiar to hard-core Clay fans]
This is the second time that some less-than-fabulous publicity popped up about our organization in the last few years, but I've learned so much from being a Clay fan that it's easier to get some perspective.We get so little mass market attention that, when we do, we're super-sensitive to what is being said about us. I think we Clay fans can be the same way. I want every single passing mention of Clay to be about how fabulous he is, but that just doesn't happen.
The reportage about the futurists' conference, to me, was fairly neutral, and obviously done by a reporter who had no clue what futurists are about. "So-called" futurists do not stand up and tell you what the future is going to be like. We show you ways that you can be prepared for what may happen.
The diversity of our membership, the diversity of points of view, actually facilitates that understanding. Clay fans discuss all aspects of Clay's life and career, bringing their own values and filters and experiences to the discussion. And that's what "future fans" do at WFS conferences.
That's one reason I've always thought of Clay as a poster boy for the Wild Card scenario (a low-probability, high-impact event). We watched him jump head-first into the deep end of an unknown future, and what an adventure it's been!
Getting back to the VOA clip:
It’s not bad at all, just a little superficial. The “Jetsons” theme beginning and ending is very typical of what non-futurists think our field is all about. It’s one reason we did the Sci-fi theme in the September-October issue of The Futurist (which also mentions the Jetsons). It’s a popular hook, and we just have to deal with that. A phrase like “so-called” futurists just shows the writer’s lack of awareness, like people who still use a term like “so-called greenhouse gases....”
The point the video reporter makes that futurists don’t know exactly what will happen in the future is the same point we make ourselves. The fact that the future is unknowable is the reason we work so hard to understand trends, wild cards, forces of change, and so on. The expectation is common among non-futurists that futurists are supposed to come up with a pat answer to the question, “what’s going to happen in the future?” This video showed that this is not what we do. It also showed that we’re a diverse group of people who approach the study or understanding of the future from different perspectives.
The lack of real content in the video (other than the interviews with WFS communications director Patrick Tucker and conference chairman Nat Irvin) is just because it’s only a couple of minutes long. For what it was – a mention of our work and a sampling of the people who do it – I thought the piece was fine.
Futurists, like Clay Aiken fans, are passionate supporters of something in a world that seems often indifferent if not downright hostile. We want everyone to agree with us that the Future and Clay Aiken are incredibly interesting and important and worthy of universal attention and support. But sometimes we're the butt of a joke. It hurts, but that doesn't make what we support less important, less interesting, or less worthy of attention.