Tuesday, June 12, 2007

RX for predictions

If you like science fiction at all, chances are you know about David Brin and the "Uplift" series. Even if you don't, you might still enjoy hearing how he's established one of the best reputations around for making predictions that come true.

There's an interview at Discover that covers the ground well. The short version? Reject smug assumptions, respect real people.

Here's a taste:

Peering ahead is mostly art. We all have tricks. One of mine is to look for “honey-pot ideas” drawing lots of fad attention. Whatever’s fashionable, try to poke at it. Maybe 1 percent of the time you’ll find a trend or possibility that’s been missed. Another method is even simpler: Respect the masses. Nearly all futuristic movies and novels—even sober business forecasts—seem to wallow in the same smug assumption that most people are fools. This stereotype led content owners to envision the Internet as a delivery conduit to sell movies to passive couch potatoes. Even today, many of the social-net and virtual-world companies treat their users like giggling 13-year-olds incapable of expressing more than a sentence at a time of actual discourse.

Thanks to Robin at Snarkmarket for the pointer.

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