Just a few quick notes from the LIFT08 closing session.
Scott Smith, founder of foresight firm Changeist, explains that his job is about "helping people see change clearly" and offers seven tips of foresight:
- Be aware of what's going on around you
- Scan, collect, organize
- Look for patterns and deep currents in the things you see
- Understand the role of values
- Have a view, but not an ideology; be ready to step outside your boundaries
- Stay grounded
- Be prepared to leave behind the artifacts of your experience
- First stage (from the inception of GSM telephony): closed systems made of operators + manufacturers + regulators. In this ecosystem, the cell phone has very few links towards the external world, only those towards the operator's network.
- Second stage (around 2000): ecosystem starts to change with WAP and other technologies, new players come in: content providers. The cell phone starts to have more links to the external world, to data, to messaging.
- Third stage (our current stage): the ecosystem is expanding at warp speed, new players (Apple, Google, etc), new features and services, growing complexity. Some applications on the phone open directly to the Internet (maps, e-mail, photo, etc).
Problem: in this third stage, while the ecosystem keeps expanding, five metaphors seem to be used by phone manufacturers to connect devices to the Internet, and none is amazingly new: the basic, enabled phone (just basic features); the specialized (Blackberry); the chaotic (SonyEricsson, providing a variety of paths to connect); the desktop (iPhone); and the dynamic portal (Windows). Cara (tracing a parallel to the invention of the Palm): "In the relationship between the mobile devices and the ecosystem -- the "cloud" -- we are at a key moment when a new metaphor could emerge and modify fundamentally the ways we interact".
Bill Cockayne, director of the Stanford Center for critical foresight, advised the audience to read the too-often-ignored last chapter of Jane Jacobs' seminal "Death and Life of Great American Cities", published in 1961. Titled "The Kind of Problem Architecture Is", that chapter is a fundamental read for whoever is interested in foresight. I abound in Bill's direction. I couldn't find a full version of the chapter online, but here is a long excerpt.