The Association of Professional Futurists (APF) is hosting its fifth twitter chat on Thursday, 22 February, 2011 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. EST. hashtag: #futrchat. You can find information about the first four here . (education, money, work, transportation)
The topic is: What big questions do we need to ask about the future?
Do we need to wonder about Big Questions?
Initially, I was not a fan of this question for a twitter chat; it’s too unruly, too vague, too, well, BIG, to be addressed in a twitter chat. I discounted its 140 character potential.
Then I read Australian futurist Maree Conway’sblog post. “We need to go to a sort of future space, where we move beyond our knowledge of what’s happened and what’s happening now to explore what’s possible.”
Maree calls this future space the realm of “what if.” Those possibilities, instead of problems which assume something is missing or wrong. “What if’s” imagine alternative futures and open our minds to transformational change. By inquiring about the future in a curious and exploratory way, we see beyond today’s realities.
That’s an exciting proposition that promises to expand my futures images. Count me in.
Jugular Questions About the Future
Arno Penzias, Nobel prize winning physicist, says, “I went for the jugular question.”
What is a jugular question? Those are the most powerful questions, the why’s and what if’s, not the litanies of everyday life. For example, it’s not what you had for breakfast but
in 1930, you had bacon and eggs
in 2000 you had whole wheat toast and a banana
in 2040 you may eat hydroponic oranges; bananas for breakfast are a distance memory.
The Big Question would be: What values and conditions will shape food in 2040?
Big Questions address how things change, the meaning and purpose, the sweep of social change manifested in our lives. Jugular questions matter; they are systems and values, strategic questions about ethics, choices, and consequences that expose biases and assumptions. Who cares and why? Rather than who’s to blame or what’s wrong.
Big Questions create ripples.
Marilee Goldberg says it’s “when a question is asked inside the current paradigm that can only be answered from outside it.” Big Questions break open our assumptions, and create new sets of ideas, ripples in the water.
Maree details avery clear list of characteristics. Big Questions make us think differently about the future. They stir things up. And they are memorable; they stick with us and haunt us.
We’re not talking about today or even this year. What Big Questions should we ask about 2020, 2030 or 2050? What questions open our minds to future possibilities? Try to imagine you live in 2075, looking back to those years.
What Big Questions would we need to ask?
What is your jugular question about the future?
Please Join Us – an open tweet chat
You are welcome to join the APF #futrchat and voice your views about Big Questions. We’ve hosted chats on the future of education, the future of money, the future of work, and the future of transportation. These chats are fast and intense. I always learn enormously, like scanning futurists’ brains.
Maree Conway and I will co-host, asking the formal questions and follow ups. Please ask questions that come to you, add links (if they pertain and are not promotional ads), and teach, inform, persuade, thrill, or terrify us.
What do you think are the Big Questions about the future?
Join us on Twitter by searching for #futrchat. Please use #futrchat in your tweets, and the Question #, as Q1, Q2, Q3 etc.
As alternative to twitter.com, you can use tweetdeck and search for #futrchat (as I do). Or here are two sites where you join the chat.