Books I Want to run out and buy.

Just as soon as I buy my real car, I want to buy Howard Rheingold’s Smart Mobs and Bruce Sterling’s upcoming Tomorrow Now: Envisioning the Next Fifty Years. My interest was piqued by reading interesting converstions about the books on the Well’s public discussion forum where both Rheingold and Sterling are members.

Particularly telling is this Sterling quote:

“Heavy duty industrial futurism is stuff like forecasting the demand curve for freon-free refrigerators in the American Midwest, 28-34 demographic. You might get paid for it –lots — the report alone might cost nine hundred bucks — but Jesus, who wants to read that? Nobody WANTS to read it. Conceivably, somebody might HAVE to read it.

What really happens is that the CEO is gonna do whatever he wants anyway about the refrigerators, and if anybody on the board of directors dares to cross him, he drops the 900-page futurist report on their desk and dares them to read it.”

Therein is the primary problem of the futurist. Make something compelling and vivid and you’re labeled an unsubstantial “pop futurist”. But make something well-researched and thourough about a direct application and your work is so dry and narrow that no one wants to read it. And then the client rarely listens to your advice anyway and goes out and makes decisions based on the next quarter’s profits, which is what he’d have done before he hired you.

Man, I’m all ranty today…

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