designprobe - whats going on  
  whats going onhow to be creativemaking new thingsabout designprobe  


Three Futures

1 The 'Not Future'

If you were living a ‘not future’ your day may go something like this. The alarm clock wakes you first thing in the morning and you immediately roll over and hit the snooze button. Warning sign number one: there is no future calling you out of bed.

After finally getting out of bed, you need your shower, your cigarette, your coffee or all three to jolt you into being alive. You walk out the door, and arrive at work with no recollection of how you got there or what had happened for the previous 45 minutes. Warning sign number two: The Groundhog Day* Phenomenon – each day is the same as the one before. ("Groundhog Day" is a movie starring Bill Murray – well worth watching.)

You sit at your desk and things keep piling up, almost growing on your desk. As soon as lunch is over, you watch the clock waiting for the moment to arrive when you can escape to freedom. Warning sign number three: your future is filled with filling in time.

You leave for home, arrive, eat, watch tv and go to bed. Warning sign number four: you keep hoping the future (the weekend or your holidays) was already here.

If this sounds familiar, read on…

The first approach is not to invent at all. This is, for most of us, how life occurs: the future directly comes at us – headlong and at a rush. We take a breath at the end of the day or the week and are left to ponder ‘what was that whirlwind?’ Life when you don’t invent your future is one of reacting to the circumstances that (seem to) follow you.

2 The 'Known Future'

The second approach focuses on creating a future based upon what we already know. This approach looks at the current state of the world, it looks at our current set of skills and it looks at our current set of resources. From this perception of the world, we create a future that is known and do-able. This approach is far more powerful than not inventing at all and it is also limited.

If we consider that we already know is based upon past knowing, or simply our past, then our future is like driving through life looking through your rear-view mirror. Marshall McLuhan sums this up neatly,

"The past went that-a-way. When faced with a totally new situation, we tend always to attach ourselves to the objects, to the flavor of the most recent past. We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future."

(The Medium is the Massage, Pages 74-5)

The limitation to this approach is that our perceptions of our world are simply that, perceptions. More specifically, our perceptions are really just assessments, descriptions of ourselves that we made up and descriptions of how the world occurs - to us. Too often choosing a future on this basis is bound up in the limitations we see for ourselves based upon what has worked or not worked in our lives previously.

3 The 'Possible Future'

The third approach creates a future based upon speculations about what is possible.

At the turn of the 20th century, the battle for the skies were just beginning. The Wright Brothers were attempting to do the impossible, fly through the air in a machine heavier than air itself. In one famous instance, the local press declined an offer to watch the Wright Brothers fly their plane because they thought flying was impossible.

At the same time, man began to speculate on flying to the moon. There were two camps, you were either a ‘believer’ or a ‘lunatic’. The word ‘lunatic’ was commonly used to describe people who believed that man could fly to the moon. It comes from the word ‘lunar’ which means ‘belonging to the moon’. We now know what the Wright Brothers believed, that it is possible to fly and today, thanks in part to the bold declaration of US President John F. Kennedy, man has also walked on the moon.

A life lived as a ‘Possible Future’ is captured in the words of Helen Keller. Born deaf and blind, she said:

"Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."



whats going on how to be creative making new things about designprobehome
©designprobe 2000-4 All rights reserved •