Future thinking

First, I note today with some humor that the digital scratch pad I use to rough-write these posts, and which I intended to save with the filename, “blog” is actually saved with the much more appropriate name, “bog” instead. This is the very essence of what Bob Ross called “happy accidents”.

Here’s an interesting essay rant on The Future of Interactive Design. by a former Apple UI guy named Bret Victor. The video he’s discussing is no longer available on his page, but I think its this one. I remember seeing it and thinking some of the same things, albeit way less cogently. But that’s not why I brought it up.

I brought it up because right near the top of the piece, he says the following thing (italics his):

“This matters, because visions matter. Visions give people a direction and inspire people to act, and a group of inspired people is the most powerful force in the world. If you’re a young person setting off to realize a vision, or an old person setting off to fund one, I really want it to be something worthwhile. Something that genuinely improves how we interact.”

That’s a bit of a thing, isnt it? It’s hard to see through the overwhelming miasma of doom that is pumped daily into our eyeballs through the attention harvesters. And that stream of negative reenforcement will eventually break down hopefull visions until all we are left with is the grindstone of despair. If we’re all just well and truly fucked, then what’s the point?

Don’t mistake my criticism of constant pessimism as an abdication of clarity. I am well aware of the fact that we are indeed well and truly fucked right now. But in order to extricate ourselves from the death-spiral it’s going to take some imagination, and if everyone succumbs to nihilism, then imagining a better world is going to be unlikely, and creating one even less so.

At the very least, its useful (not to mention spiritually re-envigorating) to include positive news in your intake. It will give you a much broader picture of the actual state of things. There are in fact people who are already working to realize hopeful visions of the future, and they are using optimism to fuel those ideas.

So take a moment. Find your center. See if you can imagine a hopeful future and what it might look like. You can’t claim to be informed if all you’re doing is reading the bad news.