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Environmental Scanning through a collection of:
SIGNS OF THE TIMES, TRENDS AND TREND BABIES 1999-2009



 

What is a Sign of the Times? Signs of the times are the result of information gathering that looks for inventions, innovations, attitudes and actions. Signs of the times come from many sources, are systematically gathered and have meaning for the future.

What is a Trend? A trend is long-range and persistent; it effects many societal groups, grows slowly and is profound. In contrast, a fad is short-term, "in", effects particular societal groups, spreads quickly and is superficial.

What is a Mega-trend? A mega-trend extends over many generations, and in cases of weather, mega-trends can cover periods prior to human existence. They describe complex interactions with many factors and they often represent the introduction of several new paradigms or worldviews that arise in hunting and gathering, agriculture, and industrial societies.

Trend babies: Here you find general trends or signs of new trends ("trend babies") from the categories social, technical, ecological, economic or political. Trend babies grow from innovations in the above categories that have the potential of going mainstream in the future (for example: just a few years ago, alternative medicine was truly alternative. Now it is big business and very respectable). The choice of trends is naturally influenced by the author's values.

Trend families: Very often, the chosen Signs are members of a trend family. A parent trend (for example, the change from an industrial society to a knowledge-based society) is well documented. The ways in which such sweeping trends play themselves out in various parts of the community represent the "members of that trends family".

Examples: Jobs in the industrial sector have shrunk causing widespread unemployment.

 

Many countries see small business as a solution to unemployment, driving unprecedented attention to small business in many countries legislatures.

Another example of a trend related to the move from industrial to knowledge society is the privatization of the education industry.

As in all cases in Signs, sustainability is one of the larger branches from which many other twig-sized trends grow. Sustainability is "the property of being sustainable", "using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged". In Signs, I use it to mean sustainable development, "an approach to economic planning that attempts to foster economic growth while preserving the quality of the environment for future generations."

Confirming Trends: When does a "trend baby", gain acceptance as a bona fide trend? When it gets enough confirmation in the various media to show it is an increasingly accepted value, behavior or technology.

Geographical trend growth and "bellwether" geographic sites: There is also an attempt to follow the global spread of trends that have started in the West (for example, Women's rights are a generally accepted topic in the media and on the Internet. Just how and when women's rights develop in various countries can represent global growth of that trend.) Some places seem to lead development in one or a variety of areas and are looked to as the source of new trends. California has long been considered as bellwether for the United States. The Nordic countries of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark have been considered bellwether in social innovation.

All trends, to a greater or lesser degree affect our lives, our work and our futures. Our ability to understand that effect can many times make a positive difference in the quality of our lives.

 

Back to Signs of the Times.

 

from March 22, 2002
 

Search Signs of the Times:

 

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

Metro

TT Spektra

February 13, 2002

Storförlag tror inte på e- boken

Large publishers don’t believe in e-books

Time Warner and Random House, two large publishers in the U. S. feel that interest for electronic books is weak. Palm hand computers and sees e-books as a growing market!

For a trend to take off the numbers of persons participating must rise over 15-25% which is the critical mass which validates a trend. Trends, which have to do with the integration of technical apparatus, can be controlled by the financial support the do or do not receive.

Technical trend- Electronic books

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

Corante Tech News Filtered Daily

John Hiller

February 26, 2002

www.corante.com/
microcontent/articles/
googleblog.shtml

boston.internet.com/
news/article/
0,1928,2001_874231,00.html

for additional information on bloggers and weblogs

Google Blogs
How Weblogs Influence A Billion Google Searches A Week "Is Weblog Technology Here to Stay or Just Another Fad?"

Do you use the search engine Google? Bloggers all across the world are influencing the order of your search results! Who, or what are bloggers? They are people who keep a kind of on-line journal with both personal thoughts and comments and links to sites they find interesting, fresh and cutting edge. This link bit is called a weblog. When information gathering on future possibilities a blogger with the same interests as you, can find new information you wouldn’t find on a traditional media web site or on the search engine. Bloggers . link to other blogs, called "blogrolling". Due to the unique search capacity of Google, every blogrolling is counted by Google and the more links, the higher up site moves on the list.

An example: A direct marketing company calls a Blooger in the middle of his dinner. He finds this irritating and puts the name of the company along with the complaint on his site. Every time other bloggers click on the complaint, it rises on the search done for that company’s name. In just 48 hours the complaint can be number one on the search page.

New ways to influence opinion

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

Utne Reader

January-February 2002

www.philosophyslam.org

 

 

 

 

 

The Atlantic Monthly

Peter Davidson

March 2002

Kiddie Kants and Pint-Sized spinozas

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Out Loud

The Kids Philosophy Slam is in its second year. 4,300 entrants participated in the first year. Kids discuss questions like “Is honesty always the best policy” and “Is the nature of humankind good or evil?” Remember the philosophy café’s that sprung up in Paris a few years ago?   Another type of slam is a Poetry Slam which is also a contest, is where people read their poetry aloud (reminiscent of the American beat generation) in bars or caafé’s). Rap music seems to have had an influence here, and the trend is not connected to one social or ethnic group. Video filming the winners seems to be popular in both the philosophy and poetry slams.

Youth culture changes from generation to generation. We know that all youth aren’t interested in the same things, yet the question remains; how will future adults with youthful interests in philosophy and poetry change the world.

Youth interest in philosophy and poetry

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

University of North Carolina – Carolina

DAVID WILLIAMSON

Sept. 11, 2001

www.unc.edu/news/
newsserv/research/
herman091301.htm

Research: U.S. boys also reaching puberty earlier than in past years The results of studies on the onset of puberty in American boys may be beginning up to a half-year earlier than earlier research has shown. Previous research on girls also has also shown earlier starts, as early as third grade (8 years old).

Society has had the challenge of handling the sexuality of unattached young people since the beginning of time. Early marriage was one attempt to maintain order in society. Modern societies tend to see education as the cure to many societal problems. The question is; is that enough?

Human physical changes

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

National Public Radio Program On the Media March 16, 2002

compcult.media.mit.edu/
afghan_x/who.htm

www.wnyc.org/
new/talk/onthemedia/
otmindex.html

Robot Reporter Journalist, in order to get around restrictions by the US government not allowing them to report from war zones, have turned to technology. A Robot called The Afghan Explorer is mobile and has the ability to cover rough terrain, take videos, capture sound and conduct two-way interviews. It can even interact with local populations, all with the reporter at a save distance.

This robot has yet to be tried, but will be tested in Afghanistan.

Technical trend- long-distance media reportage

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

T + D Magazine

March 2002

Mary Mannion Plunkett

www.astd.org/
virtual_community/
td_magazine/td_current
_contents.html

Turn Business Strategy Into Leadership Development In a 10-year research project the Boeing Leadership Center asked managers when those lasting changes occurred. They reported that learning came when it was necessary, when they were “pushed to the end of their comfort zones”.

There are many management and personal development courses available. Each is trying to create lasting positive changes for the individual.

Better teaching and training

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

Society for Human Resource Management

AP

March 20, 2002

webpublisher.lexisnexis.com/
index_edit.asp?layout=
story&gid=1830000983
&did=45CW-9860-
010F-N496-00000-00&cid=
1130004513&b=s

JOB SWAPPING SOLD AS COMMUTING SOLUTION It was found that of all employed at fourteen branch offices of one bank, only 17 percent worked close to their residence. Using special software, Gene Mullins is testing the possibility of lowering traffic and giving employees a chance at retraining.

Other advantages can be seen from helping people to work in their own neighborhoods besides cutting their driving time. It would enable more time spent with loved ones, more chance to be a part of their local community, shop locally and volunteer or be politically evolved, to say nothing of reducing traffic related stress and costs.

Sustainability - Cutting pollution
Back to Signs of the Times.

 

 from February 25, 2002

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

New Scientist newsletter

Alun Anderson

Editor-in-Chief

New Scientist

www.newscientist.com/
hottopics/copyleft

  Copyleft – we have reported on corporate power around patens and property rights, a clear trend today. Now a movement that is for free circulation of knowledge, has grown in opposition to the patent, property rights mentality.

Currently there is open source music, open source encyclopedias, open -source law, even open source soft drinks. New Scientist is testing this concept at www.newscientist.com/
hottopics/copyleft

Globalisering– Fighting the patent mentality

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

Schaub

media@teesex.tamu.edu

NR 958

January 28, 2002

www.newscientist.com/
hottopics/copyleft/

 

New Scientist

February 2, 2002

Duncan Graham-Rowe

www.newscientist.com/
news/news.
jsp?id=ns99991862

 

New Scientist

April 11, 2001

Duncan Graham-Rowe

www.newscientist.com/
news/news.jsp?
id=ns9999618

Texas A&M engineer developing new engine to reduce oil dependence, save money Microchip can turn heat into electricity Power dressing

Dr. Mark Holtzapple has created an engine that captures the heat given off in car exhaust and uses it to power the car.

 

 

 

 

In another New Scientist article a microchip is being developed that can transform heat into electric current. It is also thought to be applicable in car engines and its electronics, charge laptop batteries by recycling heat from the computer's microprocessor.

 

 

The same author told us last spring of German scientists, who have developed synthetic fibers that generate electricity when exposed to light. Fibers could be woven into machine-washable clothes giving them the ability to function as portable solar cells.

It will be some time before we actually see these inventions on the market, but all three point toward a new attitude toward more careful use of energy.

Sustainability - energy

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

Runt Krim

February 2002

Christina Nehlin

Känslomässig förståelse hos gärningsmannen gör försoning möjlig

Feelings based understanding by the offender make conciliation possible

Restorative Justice is the name of a movement to change the justice system. One of the first to formulate these ideas was Norwegian Nils Christie. Restorative Justice recognizes three key parties to any crime: the offender, victim, and community. Our current system is called retributive justice, retributive justice, the state considers itself harmed by the offense; as its laws have been broken. New Zealand was the first nation to consider the interests of the victim, offender, and community in their court system.

Restorative Justice appears to be spreading. Some of the other countries mentioned are: Norway, England, Belgium, Finland, Austria, Sweden and the United States. One of the themes RJ is that the state has taken over the responsibility for solving problems for the local community. Interest in the concept also is linked to a trend we titled Local and Small.

Solving deep social problems in criminal justice.

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

The Economist

Dec 22, 2001-January 4, 2002

Page 36

The Bridget Jones economy The recent census report (2000) in The United States showed there were more one-person households than families with children. They are divorced, widowed or elderly. The biggest rises in the last 100 years are young people, 20-24 years old (doubled) and 30-34 year olds who’s proportions tripled.

Living alone is possible in a society where women and men can support themselves. There must also be high levels of education and stable economic conditions without war. Any change in those conditions could easily make this a very vulnerable group.

Living alone

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

Pennsylvania Department of Education

February 13, 2002

Report

www.pde.psu.edu/
cybercs/
cybercsrev.html

Cyber Charter Schools Review There was a time not too long ago when computers came into many homes, that distance education was thought to be the wave of the future. The trend is, however, that it is not for everyone, but is serving a group of students with particular needs. Students are those who need an enriched program, students with medical problems, home schooled students and others.

Often we think that a new trend will take over and dominate the old way of doing things. However, it isn’t always so, it finds it’s niche and provides us with another alternative.

Alternatives in education

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

ABC Quantum Television

June 29, 2000

Also reported at the International Society for Developmental Neuroscience Feb, 2002

www.abc.net.au/
quantum/is4ie/

Schizo-D Ultraviolet light, which creates vitamin D has found to have a relationship with schizophrenia. Higher frequencies of the disease are related to how much sun a mother got during pregnancy. Naturally this is not the only cause as it is also genetic, but it is one part of the problem that can be easily dealt with.

Mental disease has been hidden in shame and fear. Its victims have been locked away. Changing this trend and improving mental health is vital to a healthy community.

Improving mental health

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

Icon International

February 13, 2002

www.icon-intl.com/

Forecasting Framework

Small Business, Local and Global, In the Future

January 2000

Natalie Dian

Web site In 2000, a search on the Internet for “barter trade” brought home 3032 responses. Two years later 166,000 were found. The Wall Street Journal says bartering offers companies a way to increase sales, move surplus inventory and make use of excess capacity.” Icon Intl. has created a new twist. Excess products are traded for credits. However, the services one can barter for are not necessarily those of member companies. Instead they are services like advertising space and airline tickets that were bought when they were cheap. Naturally the barter company profits from this exchange, while the client gets production cost or less for items it could not sell itself and services it needs.

Commercial barter exceeded $7 billion annually in 2000. It works both locally and globally exchanging goods and services. The U. S. Embassy in Moscow pointed out that “The barter system has value to the government and to society as a social safety valve.”.

Barter grows and develops
Back to Signs of the Times.

 

 from January 16, 2002

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

Swedish Radio Channel 1, 14:30 p.m.

December 7, 2001

European Editors: Madeleine Fritsch, Per- Axel Janzon och Elin Jönsson.

www.sr.se/
p1/europa/

Europa At the same time that monetary systems are becoming more regionalized (i.e. the launch of the Euron) and globalized there is a parallel, but opposite development of small local economies developing in Europe. Such economic systems are reported in Christiania Denmark, Damanhur in Northern Italy and in England.

Bernard Lietaer, from the Belgian bank who helped form the Ecu- project thinks there should also be a complementary system of small local currencies to protect against currency crisis, short-sited speculation and social discrepancies.

Local/sm. vs. global/lg.

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

University of Southern California (USC)

Online Journalism Review

November 27, 2001

Tim Cavanaugh

http://ojr.usc.edu/
content/story.cfm
?request=668

 

Metro

December 13, 2001

Leif Holmqvist
Janne Sundling

Källkritik och faktakoll räcker inte all gånger

Critic of news sources and control of facts isn’t always enough

With a small budget MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) is providing the world with the service of translating written in Arabic to the English-speaking world. However, They are accused of not reporting a wide enough range of news and opinion, but pick stories that reflect the most extreme of Arabic and Islamic media. They are getting their stories out to the press more effectively than comparable groups.

 

In one of three articles on media accuracy the authors write that journalists “can be tricked sometimes, despite the fact that checking sources and controlling facts are the first thing one learns in journalism school.

We have access to an amazing amount of information and cannot always count on journalists. There is a great burden on us as individuals to sort out where information comes from and what values and beliefs lie behind each utterance, to do that we have to know what we believe and value as well.

More information – less credibility

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

The Economist

Science and Technology section

December 1-7 2001

Global fish stocks - Fishy Figures

Unilever a company who is the largest buyer of the worlds frozen fish and The World Wildlife Fund set up Marine Stewardship Council in 1998. They set up “standards for sustainable and well-managed fisheries. They also award those who reach their standards.

By the year 2005 we should be able to buy fish with this criteria. After stories in the press on Norwegian and Swedish “farmed” salmon and their diseases, this will be a relief for consumers and conservations alike.

Sustainability- fishery fish

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

Utne Reader

November/December 2001

Andy Steiner

Vandana Shiva The western concept of ownership is reflected in the patent system it has created. Recently discussed are patens on indigenous plants (from rain forests), medicines and rice. Protests were made regarding the patenting of basmati rice that has grown in India for centuries. Due to protests the patent office limited the patent.

All three of these areas of indigenous plants, medicine (primarily for AIDS in Africa) are seen as large (read Western) company take over of third world’s natural resources.

Globalization – Western values of ownership

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

The Economist

December 8-14th, 2001

The same-only more so? Leading technologies in the near future will not be one specific industry, but several. Experts see the mix as including ubiquitous communications, intelligent systems, protemics, fuel cells and nanotechnology.

This list shows just how ingrained the knowledge society really is. It would be interesting to know just how many people know what the titles of these industries really mean! How are parents going to advise their children and how are the unemployed going to gain the new skills needed in these fields? P. S. Protemics is the study of human proteins and how they work. Nanotechnology is a catch all word for anything created by putting different atoms together to perform a specific task.

Diversity – a variety of industries driving the economy, not just one.

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

January 9, 2001

Study of the nation's recycling and reuse industry.

www.yale.edu/
is4ie/

National Recycling Economic Information Project Recent research on the recycling industry in the United States reveals the following profile: paper and steel making, composting and plastic and rubber product manufacturers, companies that refurbish used electronic appliances, computer equipment and office and home furnishings.

Gross annual sales of $236 billion and $37 billion in annual payroll and can be compared in size and sales to auto and truck manufacturing. Recycled plastics converters, with the help of 178,700 employees convert recycled plastics and take in $28 billion annually.

Recycling is developing as an industry to recon with. The National Recycling Coalition is trying to get more attention from the investment community which is important to it’s development.

Sustainability – Recycling

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

January 11, 2002

LAURENCE ARNOLD

Associated Press Writer

http://dailynews.yahoo.
com/h/ap/20020111/us/
amtrak_future_4.html

Plans Would Take Amtrak's Rails There are two small trends here. One is the separation of trains from their rails. This has been the case in Sweden for some time. England has also separated the running of trains from track care and maintenance. Now the United States is trying to do the same thing.

The second trend is that both England and Sweden are having trouble keeping the rails part of the business viable. All the while train travel is growing in all of the three companies mentioned.

Hopefully these are short term trends and the one that will emerge will be improved and well utilized, safe train travel.

Sustainability- Train use is growing and struggling to be competitive
Back to Signs of the Times.

 

 from December 08, 2001

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

Red Cross

Cynthia Long, Managing Editor, RedCross.org

October 2, 2001

www.redcross.org/
news/ds/0109wtc/
011002dogs.html

Therapy Dogs Lift Spirits at Ground Zero The Red Cross is using dogs in crisis situations to bring comfort to people when talk is difficult. Humans found in dire situations like school shootings or the recent World Trade Towers attack are traumatized and their fear and distress emit a scent that dogs smell immediately. One method the dogs use is to go and sit next to the traumatized person, wiggle a bit, make a funny noise, move closer, and then make and hold eye contact. At that point the person usually breaks down and grabs the dog, hugging it for comfort.

By keeping the emotional impact of tragedies to a minimum we eliminate a deepening of the problem to alcoholism, drug use, wife and child abuse etc.

Solving deep social problems

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

Healthy People 2010 – Progress Review

July 8, 1999

http://web.health.gov/
healthypeople
/Data/PROGRVW/
MentalHealth/
default.htm

Healthy People 2000 Final Review Stress is one of the biggest problems in the western world today. One approach is a drive by U.S. health officials to get stress management programs at worksites of 50 or more people.

Last year they had hoped to have 40% of businesses offer these programs in the work place. In 1992, 37 percent did so, an increase of more than a third from 1985. In 1999, 48 percent of work-sites provided stress management on-site or through a health care plan.

Governments are paying more attention to stress as the costs of stress related problems rise. This is a part of a larger problem of getting health costs down by emphasizing prevention.

Prevention over cures

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

The Council of Europe

Press Release

June 21, 2001

http://press.coe.int/
cp/2001/452a
(2001).htm

see full text

 

Yes! A journal of positive futures

Fall 2001

 

Metro

November 8, 2001

TT

Walter Schwimmer: the Council of Europe will not stop fighting against the death penalty

 

 

 

 

Climate Breakthrough

 

Stötesten avklarad vid klimatmöte

A bolder in the road has been removed at the climate meeting

Capital punishment is outlawed throughout the European Union. The only NATO country that has not signed is the U.S. Russia and Turkey have agreed to abolish the death penalty. The Council of Europe, Europe’s largest human rights organization is pressing for the U.S. and Japan to sign in a resolution that gives them until 2003 to abolish the penalty. The U.S. risks loosing it’s observer status in The Council of Europe if it doesn’t comply.

At the UN Climate Conference in Bonn last summer the consensus obtained is said to have the effect of keeping the Kyoto process on track without the involvement of the United States.

The climate meeting in Marakech recently has agreed on a system for punishing those who don’t reach the goals of the Kyoto agreement.

There are a number signs of American isolationism returning. The major power of the world looking to do what it feels is best for it’s citizens independent of the rest of the world. What might break this trend is internal criticism and being left out of large international gatherings where decisions are made without them.

American isolationism

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

The New York Times

DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.

November 5, 2001

www.nytimes.com/
2001/11/05/
international/
africa/05AIDS.html

Patents or Poverty? A New Debate Over Poor AIDS Care in Africa A collection of countries called the ”Africa Group” has fought for new rules that ignore patents of medications needed to protect public health. They also fought for regulations allowing poor countries to import medicine. The forum for this discussion was the WTO meeting in Doha, Qutar Nov. 9-13, 2001. They won the right to make low-cost generic knock-offs of medicines patented by multinational pharmaceutical corporations.

This is a David and Goliath story. The Africa group didn’t get everything they asked for, but they came a long way toward making medicines accessible to poorer people.

Reducing health costs – the poor

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

Recycling World

January 14, 20010

www.tecweb.com/
wlibrary/news00.htm

Latest threat to textiles trade Textile recycling is made up of collecting and sorting for sale to developing countries. Textiles are purchased at a low price and resold in market places. German authorities threaten that trade with their interpretation of European regulations. They don’t consider textiles collected within the EU to be of European origin. Sorting is not considered a “treatment” of the recycled materials compared with for example, the process in making used paper into new paper products. Exports of used clothing to non-EU countries could be subject to high export duties (up to 200%) if German criteria are accepted. Some 100,000 jobs are at throughout Europe.

The Bureau of International Recycling says that the recycling industry is coping with depressed demand and prices. What does that mean for a sustainable society?

Sustainability – Recycling

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

Metro

November 15, 2001

Jill Klackenberg/PM

Rösten styr dataspelet

Ny generation spel på gång med ännu mer realism

(Vioce driven computer games – new generation games on the way with even more realism)

Dataspelsföretag uppmuntrar värvning

(Computer games companies encourage enlistment)

If you want to know what skills and competences young people come into the marketplace with, just look at computer games. With given characters, one can direct both what happens and the characters themselves choose to do. Add the capacity to direct the action both physically and by voice and you have a virtual format for any type of storyline.

The ramifications for training are enormous. Training in dangerous situations, war, life saving etc . An English computer games company has a new war game out. They are being criticized because they encourage players of their game to enlist. Will the military see playing such games and improving ones score as a making them better warriors? Even training in social skills can be learned this way.

Education and computer technology

Source/Date

Title

Subject

Trend

Advanced Cell Technology web site

December 1, 2001

www.advancedcell.
com/animal
-program.html

  Farmers can produce best and most profitable animals in the dairy and beef industries, eliminating costly trial and error breeding. Researchers can introduce genes to mice to study disease and produce more effective medicines. Pet owners can have cells taken from their pets in expectation of the day when the pet dies and it is possible to order it’s clone. We can cure illnesses by eating eggs that have been implanted with therapeutic proteins. Your favorite wild animals are being saved from extinction by cloning.

All this is happening today and a human could be cloned as early as six months predict scientists. Are you ready? Have you sorted out your values and come to a conclusion you can both articulate and defend? Cloning was seen as a possible future reality in the Study of a Sustainable Society in 1996. For details, see chapter 19, page 99 (Swedish version) and page 57 of the electronic English version. The book, Framtidsbygget or A Tale of the Future can be purchased at www.framtidsbygget.se

Human and Animal cloning.
 
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