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Futures Conference Day 2

Brian Dawson
Brian Dawson, Director, Library Development


By Brian K. Dawson

Day two started with great energy and it continued throughout the day…

David Pescovitz, co-editor of Boing Boing and Research Director for  Institute for the Future, kicked off the day by considering the intersection of science, art and magic.

His premise was that what was once considered phenomenon was actually based in science and has been harnessed through technology. Since tomorrow has yet to be written, studying today’s fiction can help us identify the signals that will inform our tomorrow. He pointed to the revolutionary imagery in Georges Méliès Le Voyage Dans la Lun and then asked what some of today’s most creative minds will inspire to become tomorrow’s reality.

Pescovitz would take us on a journey through  some of today’s most cutting edge research and technology that held great hope. He contrasted these potentials against the dark forecasts we hear everyday but stressed there is hope, our ability to recognize the darkness and realize that the future is variable based on our actions gives us the ability to shape a better tomorrow. “The only way we are going to create the future together is by being part of the conversation.”

Dr. James Hughes of Rutgers University provided the most engaging discussion of demographics you could imagine.  His sense of humor took an often intimidating topic and made it approachable. The big take away was considering how shifting demographics must be taken into consideration when we are designing our services.

Photo by the Rhode Island Office of Library & Information Services
Photo by the Rhode Island Office of Library & Information Services

The final session of the conference was led by Nichole Baker Rosa and a team from The Futures School.  Their goal was to help us begin shifting our thinking to a more forward looking model and give some actionable items.  They walked us through an exercise in scenario training developed around their Sense-Mesh-Transform model.  After the previous sessions it was exciting to collaborate with other attendees and take our new found knowledge out for a spin.

Future Conference 2017 was a resounding success.  I don’t think anyone wanted it to end but we all were eager to take what we have learned and return to our little corner of the library world to further think about what we learned and incorporate it into our own philosophies.

Random Thoughts & Quotes:

  • Future literacy, this is something you will be hearing more about from me.
  • Look for patterns, translate them into data and synthesize that into wisdom.
  • Be bold, break out of incremental thinking.
  • Keep a blog or list of signals to allow you to look for trends over time.
  • Innovators of today can become tomorrow’s impediments…Continue to evolve, keep searching…be curious.
  • Be curious, find those like you from across industries but beware creating an echo chamber.

Misc. Resources:


  1. These statements are my own and do not reflect the position of my employer, coworkers or other organizations.
  2. There was a tremendous amount of information coming at us and I was trying to receive, process, synthesize and take notes all at once.  These notes are most likely half thoughts and statements that I was able to capture.  I apologize and hope that others in attendance were able capture and they can help add context. Look forward to other articles about the Futures Conference coming soon and follow along on twitter by using #futurescon2017.
  3. I encourage you to watch the videos when they become available and see what your take away is.
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