Monday, December 22, 2008

Leaders Make the Future - Bob's latest book goes on sale!

Berrett-Koehler has announced Bob's latest book: Leaders Make the Future - Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World. It will be released in May of 2009.

Their description follows:

• Grounded in the most recent ten-year forecast by the prestigious Institute for the Future
• Identifies the new skills needed to thrive in the next decade
• Provides tools, examples, and advice to help develop your expertise in each of the ten future skills

Some leadership skills are enduring. But to be successful in the future, leaders also need an emerging set of skills uniquely suited to dealing with the challenges of the threshold decade we are entering. Today’s businesses and organizations are operating in a world characterized by volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. Though they already seemed stressed to the breaking point, Johansen reminds us that we are also more connected than ever before in our history, but we must fully realize the benefits of that connectivity. In the next decade, leaders will not just see the future—they will make it! But they will not be able to do it alone.

Institute for the Future has been developing ten-year forecasts for some of the world’s top organizations for forty years—it is the only futures group to outlive its own forecasts. Bob Johansen draws on IFTF’s latest forecast (included in this book) to introduce skills that will help leaders see connections in the larger systems of which they are a part, embrace shared assets and opportunities, and cut through the chaos to make a better future. Separate chapters focus on each skill, identifying the new circumstances that make it necessary and providing examples of the skill in action. How adroit are you at dilemma-flipping—turning problems that can’t be permanently solved into opportunities? What is your level of immersive learning ability—the ability to dive into very different physical and online worlds and learn from them? Do you know what a smart mob is and how to organize one? Johansen provides role models, tools, and advice to help you develop these and seven other skills.

We are facing times of unprecedented challenge. Combining research-based forecasts, real-world examples, and his own astute analysis, Bob Johansen helps you identify and acquire the abilities you need to thrive in this difficult world.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It was inevitable that I would end up at the Institute for the Future!

We were doing some fall cleaning at home and I went through books to keep, donate to charity or give to friends/family. While doing so, I noticed a trend...the future! Take a look at these titles/authors of some of the books that I had read over the years:
  • Blur: the Speed of Change in the Connected Economy - Stan Davis & Christopher Meyer
  • Burn Rate: How I Survived the Gold Rush Years on the Internet - Michael Wolf
  • Detour: The Truth about the Information Superhighway - Michael Sullivan-Trainor
  • Digital Economy: Promise and Peril in the Age of Networked Intelligence - Don Tapscott
  • Fuzzy Logic: The Revolutionary Computer Technology that Is Changing the World - Daniel McNeill & Paul Freiberger
  • Growing Up Digital - Don Tapscott
  • New Rules for the New Economy - Kevin Kelly
  • Out of Control - Kevin Kelly
  • Rethinking America - Heidrick Smith
  • The 500 Year Delta: What Happens After What Comes Next - Jim Taylor & Watts Wacker
  • The Future and Its Enemies - Virginia Postrel
  • The Hacker Crackdown - Bruce Sterling
  • The Last Best Thing - Pat Killon
  • The Secret of the Universe - Isaac Asimov
  • The Virtual Community - Howard Rheingold
  • Unbounding the Future: The Nanotechnology Revolution - K. Eric Drexler & Chris Peterson
  • Virtual Reality - Howard Rheingold

Thursday, December 04, 2008

IFTF announces its 2009 Technology Horizons Research Agenda

Fun agenda we have next year, huh?

2009 Technology Horizons Research Agenda

Creativity and control have always been necessary, if uneasy, partners in the advance of human ingenuity and technological and social development. At times we need the discipline and tools of control in order to enable creativity, at other times we must release control in order for creativity to blossom. This ageless cosmic dance is now entering new domains once unavailable to direct human intervention.

These include: more powerful and precise tools that unite computation and matter, bestowing upon us the ability to functionally re-design our minds, our senses, and our environments; the proliferation and ubiquity of visual media across our electronic communication networks, and the shift from text-based culture and cognition to a way of thinking and communicating that engages and rewards other sensibilities; and the power of ad hoc collectives of distributed agents, especially when combined with nimble prototyping technologies, to solve problems and transform traditional strategies for innovation.

As the stakes of human action increase, wielding the power of design requires both grace and humility, and the wisdom to know when to lead and when to let go.

In 2009, the Technology Horizons Program will explore these new ways we have begun to mediate, manipulate, and re-design our world, and what that means to the way we live our lives.

Our three core research themes are:

• When Everything is Programmable
• The Future of Video
• The Future of Lightweight Innovation

When Everything is Programmable

Trends we have been exploring in Technology Horizons in the past few years, such as the layering of digital information on the physical world, sensory rich data streaming 24/7, use of a host of technologies to extend people’s cognitive and physical abilities, blending of physical and digital realities, the emerging maker mindset-- when taken to their foreseeable culmination--are pointing to profound new powers to computationally design, i.e. program, our world. Imagine a world in which almost every material object (including our brains and bodies) is programmable, running code to achieve desired results, from particular moods to how the physical and social worlds around us function. Because once we have all the data and we can decode what the data means, the next logical step is to design to spec. What will these new powers mean for our individual and collective identities, as well as our fundamental relationships to our environment and to each other? In 2009, we extend the investigation of how layers of information and computation are embedded, ensconced, and entangled in the material world, into the examination of how we will use new technologies to intentionally and directly design and program our minds, our senses, and matter itself. We will take deep dives into three areas:

Programming the Mind
Powerful new scientific understandings and technologies are emerging that will significantly increase the level of precision and control we have over the manner in which our minds function. Already we have neuro and cogniceuticals that increase or modulate mental focus, attention, and memory. As our understanding of neurochemical processes increase, will are likely to acquire the ability to press chemical “buttons” to quickly and effectively change the way our minds work. Stimulation of certain regions of the brain, either by direct electronic current or by transcranial magnetic stimulation, has been correlated with particular outcomes—such as increased attention and recall. Already, we have seen crude brain-computer interfaces that allow directly channeled communication and interaction between mind and machine. As our precision of use with these devices grows, so will our ability to “dial” our minds to certain states. As our minds become further extended into the material world, and machines more fully integrated into our minds, what new affordances and blindspots will these relationships create? Who will control them and how will we use them? What will this mean for organizations? What types of practical and ethical dilemmas will our increased ability to program the mind create?

Programming the Senses
A large population of the “hearing impaired” (those with cochlear implants) have a level of control over their audible world that those with “normal” hearing can only imagine. Because sound is routed through an electronic receiver, and processed by complex computational algorithms before being transmitted to the cochlea and auditory nerve, a cochlear implant recipient can filter out certain sound frequencies (like high pitched noises), and tune into distant conversations using a directional microphone. As new sensory replacements and augmentations are developed, we will see more widespread use of technologies that allow us to modulate and partition the sensory world around us,
We are likely to add new senses to our repertoire of five, and create new kinds of sensory blends. Imagine a future in which we could sense danger in a way similar to many animals, or reprogram our senses so that we can hear the color blue. How will this impact how we experience the world and what is available to our perception and consciousness?

Programming Matter
Quantum dots, 3-D printing, claytronic atoms (catoms), dynamic physical rendering, rapid prototyping, flexible displays, and other forms of nanoscale assemblage are among the emerging technologies for programming (or hacking) matter. These, combined with mobile cloud computing, context-aware environments, and ubiquitous sensing, point to a world in which the objects, materials, and built environment are radically plastic, programmable, and responsive. We will investigate these converging technologies to uncover how these new levers and levels of control will alter the ecology of machine-to-machine, human-to-machine, and human-to-human relations.

The Future of Video

The ascent and currency of visual media signals a transformation on the order of the shift from manuscript to print. As the web continues its metamorphosis from a text vehicle to an image (moving image) vehicle, spurred on by the availability and adoption of such technologies as the phonecam, the webcam, voice (and video) over internet protocol, tiny handheld cameras like the Flip, and online video platforms like YouTube, it seems ever-more likely that video will overtake the written word as the predominant communication form for coming generations.

We are seeing the emergence of a new digitally-mediated oral society—one that will alter the way we shape our identities, communicate knowledge, create authority, and experience our sense world. A new public sphere, bringing together the semi-literate as well as the hyper-literate, will generate new channels for art, commerce, politics, and education.

Video comes with its own language, a language with a multitude of spontaneously generated and evolving vernaculars. We will examine trends in vernacular video, from lifecasting to collaborative content creation, with particular attention to the way technology, culture, and policy shape (and are shaped by) this massive participatory movement.

We will outline the new key players in the emerging realm of vernacular video: companies, organizations, campaigns and networks that are putting the power of video into the hands of individuals and channeling it to the world, and consider the implications for media, entertainment, political and social movements, indigenous and diasporic communities, marketing, and educational sectors.

Throughout antiquity and through the middle ages, even when reading alone, the written word was “read” aloud, audibly. Those who read silently were remarkable, viewed askance by their peers. We will be looking for the equivalent of ancient ‘silent readers’ in today’s media landscape, pointing to tomorrow’s “innate” habits and practices. We will seek out the ways (and the significance of) individuals and groups turning towards electronic recording and communication of sight and sound in search of something more personal, more meaningful, and more immediate.

The Future of Lightweight Innovation

As the global economy slows down, the pressure to innovate faster and cheaper will only increase. Over the next decade, we will see a rapid expansion of lightweight models for innovation, drawing on new ideas about organizing research and development, and new tools for collaboration. Just as web startups now move from idea to implementation without traditional incubation, more and more of new product and service development will happen outside of existing pipelines. As open innovation casts a wide net for ideas, it will merge with lightweight infrastructures that put the tools into everyday people's hands as well. In this research area we will define key features of the emerging lightweight innovation models and analyze strategies for employing such models in different kinds of organizations.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Please take five minutes to play a game by noon today!

Reblogging a Jane email:

WHOAH it's a no-holds barred 19-hour FORECASTING race!! have 60 seconds? we need your brains! help a team WIN!

(We're competing to invent the future! PLEASE JOIN OUR GAME!

At 5 PM Pacific Time on Tuesday November 18, 2008, we unleashed onto the Internet five forecasting questions about the year 2019. Each question is posed by a different forecasting team at the 2008 Blended Reality conference at the Institute for the Future. Each team is competing to collect the most answers, and the most interesting examples, from the most diverse community possible.

PLEASE JOIN OUR GAME! Answer one, answer two, or more BEFORE 12 NOON PACIFIC TIME WED NOV 19, 2009

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

IFTF's After Shock: How to Play

In addition to just jumping in and playing solo as an earthquake survivalist, here are some thoughts about how you might play IFTF's After Shock with others.

Beginning this Thursday, November 13, and continuing for 3 weeks, After Shock will simulate the landscape of Southern California after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake as if the disaster is happening in real time.

Through headlines, photographs, maps, and continual updates from After Shock’s grassroots reporters “on the scene” spread over Southern California, visitors to will experience the earthquake from the immediate aftermath of the initial 2 minutes of shaking, to the crucial 48-72 hours afterwards in which life-saving decisions still need to be made, to a massive aftershock that hits a now weakened region. Finally, the timeline of the After Shock simulation will accelerate to weeks and months after the earthquake, as Southern Californians shift from survival and recovery to rebuilding: lives, schools, businesses, networks.

How are you going to survive? Imagine your future now so you will be better prepared prepared for this inevitable future. How you are going to respond to a major earthquake in your city? Tell us your story by writing a scenario, uploading images, drawings or creating videos.

1. Join the After Shock Facebook group and the Twitter stream.
* Choose a group to play (2–10 people, or more) from your organization to play as a team project for the 3 weeks of game play
* Decide on a minimum amount of time to devote to playing, say an hour a week, to make it fun and realistic (create a competition in your group for best stories and solutions)
* Tell stories about what your organization is doing to address the disaster for individuals and for the company
* Start an After Shock discussion group focused specifically on your community or organization (for example, new ways your company/org can come together to assure that everyone has survived or has communication tools )
* Create a discussion to engage with new kinds of groups you don't ordinary work with to solve disaster-related issues
* Use your networks and preferred networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook to convene your peers in other groups/organizations in After Shock to start discussions on issues you all share
* Look for other institutional players you may not have worked with in the past to team up with

3. Play even though you are out of the CA region!

Imagine you have colleagues or loved ones in So. Cal:
  1. How would you communicate with them?
  2. How would you transfer support resources (money, water, health care)?
  3. Tell you story about what is happening outside of the disaster region.
At it’s culmination, data will be collected and analyzed to help us understand how Southern California citizens might respond to this type of disaster and their degree of preparedness which IFTF will share in addition to key learnings form this project.

Be sure and watch the video at and game play starts Thursday!

Monday, October 20, 2008

IFTF releases the Future of Work research to the public domain

The Future of Work:

The Technology Horizons Program’s research on the Future of Work comes at an exciting time for the intersection of work and technology. Technology has become integrated into virtually every aspect of work. And because we spend so much time working, work really is the place where we most directly feel the impact of developing technologies. From collaboration to productivity; from new ways of approaching workspace design to the increasing ability to work from virtually anywhere; and from hiring and recruitment to new skill sets—it is a time of experimentation for companies and organizations as trends in technology converge to change what it means to work.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Trip to Johannesburg

In September, I took a trip to Johannesburg for work. I visited Pilanesburg Game Reserve and Soweto while there. My pics are here. A co-worker's are here. My pics are here.

Go visit!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Sarah Palin Effect

Here's a great video from my pal Tom. Funny!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Why Mad Men the best show on TV

Last night, I finished watching the last episode of Mad Men (Season 1). The closing episode brought to light why it is the best show on TV.

This episode, which I was able to quickly find by using ffwd, took me back to 1976, to sit in my great grandmother's house and watch my grandmother's pictures of her trips around the country. At the time, it opened my eyes to the wonder of travel and was an initial connection to many of my distant cousins. I can still smell the popcorn and feel the hardwood floor underneath me.

You may not approve of the people in the show, but it is truly the best of TV. Watch it!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

My longest international flights...part 2

I made another long international trip a couple of weeks ago (South Africa!), so I thought I would update my list of my longest international flights. The best website I could find is Web|Flyer's MileMaker Mileage Calculator. (Please let me know if there is a better site.)

Here they are (apologies to those who prefer to use kilometers!):
  1. 8130 miles: Washington, DC - Johannesburg, South Africa <-- NEW!
  2. 5680 miles: San Francisco - Frankfurt, Germany
  3. 5620 miles: San Francisco - Seoul, Korea
  4. 5520 miles: Los Angeles - Nadi, Fiji
  5. 5110 miles: San Francisco - Tokyo, Japan
  6. 4760 miles: New York - Sao Paulo, Brazil
  7. 4170 miles: Johannesburg, South Africa - Dakar, Senegal <--NEW!
  8. 4080 miles: Miami - Sao Paulo, Brazil
  9. 3970 miles: Dakar, Senegal - Washington, DC <--NEW!
  10. 3210 miles: Miami - Santa Cruz, Bolivia

What is your longest flight?

Monday, September 22, 2008

How to play IFTF's Superstruct game

From my are some thoughts about how you might play Superstruct:

• Play by yourself, or choose a team (or teams) of 3 to 10 people from your organization to play Superstruct as a team project for the six weeks the game will run. Players will probably need to devote a minimum of an hour a week to make it worthwhile, but if you can devote at least three hours a week, you'll get a lot more out of it. Give different members of the team different assignments, such as: 1) telling stories about what your organization is doing to address one or more of the superthreats; 2) starting Superstruct discussion groups focused specifically on your community (for example, new ways your community can come together to assure that everyone has safe Internet access in 2019); create a superstructure to engage with new kinds of groups you don't ordinary work with to solve the community dilemmas in 2019 and then personally invite people in those groups to join you--either people who are playing the game already or people you know in the community who might be willing to play.

• Use the superstructures as a way to engage the organizations that you currently support. Create a superstructure with a mission that you would like to see addressed, and invite your community/business groups or other participants to join the game and come up with new approaches to that mission, engaging the resources of other the SEHIs in Superstruct.

• Convene your peers in other organizations in Superstruct to start discussions on issues you all share. To get the most innovative thinking in your discussions, set them up the discussions in a way that invites input from the vast range of SEHIs who will play the game. If interesting ideas come up in the discussions, start a superstructure to test drive the ideas.

• Look for other institutional players you may not have worked with in the past. Many of IFTFs Ten-Year Forecast members are large corporations engaged in the food industry, the health industry, and the information industry. We also have a number of government and nonprofit members, like the CDC and United Cerebral Palsy, for example. Superstruct is a low-risk way to try out collaborations you might not have considered in the past.

• Use Superstruct as a "windtunnel" for testing your long-term strategies. Tell stories in Superstruct about how you've succeeded in your long-range goals in the challenging world of 2019. Then see how other players respond to the stories--how many "raves" you get for your stories or how they comment. The more compelling the stories are, with images or videos, the more likely you will be to get responses.

You can play the game with any name you choose, so you can be as public or anonymous as you want. And you can't really lose. Everything that happens in the game will almost certainly enrich your understanding of the dilemmas we face locally and globally--and of unique ways to collaborate to on a very large scale to address these complex problems.

Please feel free to contact me/IFTF if you have more questions or would like some hands-on help getting started in the game. We look forward to working together in the world of 2019!

Be sure and visit the video page now at and game play starts on October 6.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

5 minute Geography Test!

Just wish they showed a map of the results when you were finished. Can you beat me?

Created by OnePlusYou - Online Dating

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Headed to South Africa on Thursday

I'll be there for a week for work. Headed to Johannesburg for the 2008 International of Science Parks conference. Traveling with a few co-workers...should be fun! Will visit a game park and Sun City while there.

Friday, July 18, 2008

IFTF is hiring: Community Leaders/Game Masters for Superstruct

The Institute for the Future is hiring five community leaders/game masters for the upcoming future forecasting game Superstruct.

It’s an eight-week position beginning September 8, 2008. You can be a game master from anywhere in the world (outside of US is okay; we will have players from all over the world, although primarily playing in English), and it will require ~ 12 hours of online work per week. You’ll work very closely with Jane McGonigal (Avant Game) and Jamais Cascio (Open the Future). This is a non-profit game with no commercial sponsors; the position comes with a stipend of $2500.

Skills required: Great forum writing skills; online storytelling experience (blogs, videos, photos, Twitter, etc.); curiosity about the future; some expertise in issues related to sustainability, global health, environmental or climate issues, global business, social networks, or anything else you think might be useful to solving the problems of the future. We're open to considering anyone with great writing skills and a desire to investigate the future! No technical skills required, just great Internet skills.

Your job will be to lead a team of players (at minimum, hundreds of players; more likely, thousands of players) in creating a collaborative online forecast of the year 2019. The forecasting will take place through wikis, forums, videos, blogs, Twitter, online comics, photo sets, and whatever else our players use to depict and talk about the future. You'll be reading and watching lots of player-created content, in addition to making your own content. You'll give the players feedback, and you'll synthesize and summarize the most interesting things in a short weekly story. You'll be moderating forums and wikis dedicated to solving a particular future-problem. You'll have to help your community manage a careful balance between "wow, the future might be scary" storytelling to "you know what, we might actually be able to solve this problem before it kills us all" optimism. Because the game isn't just about imagining the future. It's about inventing the future. This game is a kind of working prototype for the year 2019!

Each game master will focus on one of five "superthreats", ranging from a devastating disruption of the food supply chain, to a pandemic, to "global weirding" weather patterns to create millions of climate refugees. (Depending on your interest and area of expertise, we'll make sure you get the right topic!) In the two weeks before the game launches, we'll give you a crash course in the IFTF research that is guiding this game, so you'll be an expert on your area when the game launches on September 22, 2008.

To apply: Send a letter to Jane at explaining why you want to join us on the Superstruct team. Mention any previous experience as a writer, or thinking about the future, playing or making games, running online communities, or being an interesting person online. Include a CV or resume if you think it will help explain who you are, but most importantly, in your letter, answer this question: It's the summer of 2019. You are yourself, but 10 years in the future. Describe where you are having for dinner, what you're eating, and what you're thinking or talking about. How did you wind up there, compared to where you had dinner most often in the summer of 2008?

Superstruct! Play the game, invent the future.

This fall, the Institute for the Future invites you to play Superstruct, the world’s first massively multiplayer forecasting game. It’s not just about envisioning the future—it’s about inventing the future. Everyone is welcome to join the game. Watch for the opening volley of threats and survival stories, September 2008.


This is a game of survival, and we need you to survive.

Super-threats are massively disrupting global society as we know it. There’s an entire generation of homeless people worldwide, as the number of climate refugees tops 250 million. Entrepreneurial chaos and “the axis of biofuel” wreak havoc in the alternative fuel industry. Carbon quotas plummet as food shortages mount. The existing structures of human civilization—from families and language to corporate society and technological infrastructures—just aren’t enough. We need a new set of superstructures to rise above, to take humans to the next stage.

You can help. Tell us your story. Strategize out loud. Superstruct now.

It's your legacy to the human race.

Want to learn more about the game? Read the Superstruct FAQ.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Not the best email to receive from your phone company

From: Xiptel Support Services
Date: July 15, 2008 2:18:07 AM PDT

Monday evening XIPTEL's services were interrupted at approximately 6:40 PM due to a power outage at the Fremont, CA data center. When power was in the process of being restored, a power surge destroyed the primary and secondary firewall systems, which has continued the outage. Technicians and resources have been working through the night in an effort fix the problem. It is anticipated that service will be out completely for 24 to 36 hours, although we hope and are working to have it back sooner. As soon as we have further information we will communicate that to you. We apologize for the disruption and we are working to restore service as quickly as possible.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Superstruct! Play the game, invent the future.

[This post was copied from IFTF's Future Now blog]

This fall, the Institute for the Future invites you to play Superstruct, the world’s first massively multiplayer forecasting game. It’s not just about envisioning the future—it’s about inventing the future. Everyone is welcome to join the game. Watch for the opening volley of threats and survival stories, September 2008.


SEPTEMBER 22, 2019

Humans have 23 years to go

Global Extinction Awareness System starts the countdown for Homo sapiens.

PALO ALTO, CA — Based on the results of a year-long supercomputer simulation, the Global Extinction Awareness System (GEAS) has reset the "survival horizon" for Homo sapiens - the human race - from "indefinite" to 23 years.

“The survival horizon identifies the point in time after which a threatened population is expected to experience a catastrophic collapse,” GEAS president Audrey Chen said. “It is the point from which it a species is unlikely to recover. By identifying a survival horizon of 2042, GEAS has given human civilization a definite deadline for making substantive changes to planet and practices.”

According to Chen, the latest GEAS simulation harnessed over 70 petabytes of environmental, economic, and demographic data, and was cross-validated by ten different probabilistic models. The GEAS models revealed a potentially terminal combination of five so-called “super-threats”, which represent a collision of environmental, economic, and social risks. “Each super-threat on its own poses a serious challenge to the world's adaptive capacity,” said GEAS research director Hernandez Garcia. “Acting together, the five super-threats may irreversibly overwhelm our species’ ability to survive.”Garcia said, “Previous GEAS simulations with significantly less data and cross-validation correctly forecasted the most surprising species collapses of the past decade: Sciurus carolinenis and Sciurus vulgaris, for example, and the Anatidae chen. So we have very good reason to believe that these simulation results, while shocking, do accurately represent the rapidly growing threats to the viability of the human species.”

GEAS notified the United Nations prior to making a public announcement. The spokesperson for United Nations Secretary General Vaira Vike-Freiberga released the following statement: "We are grateful for GEAS' work, and we treat their latest forecast with seriousness and profound gravity."

GEAS urges concerned citizens, families, corporations, institutions, and governments to talk to each other and begin making plans to deal with the super-threats.


This is a game of survival, and we need you to survive.

Super-threats are massively disrupting global society as we know it. There’s an entire generation of homeless people worldwide, as the number of climate refugees tops 250 million. Entrepreneurial chaos and “the axis of biofuel” wreak havoc in the alternative fuel industry. Carbon quotas plummet as food shortages mount. The existing structures of human civilization—from families and language to corporate society and technological infrastructures—just aren’t enough. We need a new set of superstructures to rise above, to take humans to the next stage.

You can help. Tell us your story. Strategize out loud. Superstruct now.

It's your legacy to the human race.

Want to learn more about the game? Read the Superstruct FAQ.

Superstruct Now

Get a head start on the game. It’s the summer of 2019. Imagine you’re already there, and tell us a little bit about your future self. Where are you having dinner tonight?

Post your comments and/or read others on the original post.

IFTF is hiring 2 PHP gaming us make a game!

The Institute for the Future is looking for two PHP programmers to help build our first ever MASSIVELY MULTIPLAYER FORECASTING GAME. Players will work together to forecast the year 2019, and the game focuses on real-world threats to the survival of the human species.

Basically, it's an exciting and save-the-world kind of project. Join us!

Here's what we need:

FRONT-END: A WEB INTERFACE PROGRAMMER who can build highly interactive web pages in PHP and work with the game design team to spec the design and with the graphic design team to implement the design. UI Flash skills are a plus.

BACK-END: A DATABASE PROGRAMMER who can work in PHP. Tasks will include integrating web forms for capturing blog posts, setting up forums, doing simple surveys, computing survey results, and feeding results to graphic displays. Drupal knowledge is a plus.

Both positions are short-term positions that start immediately and are expected to last through September. San Francisco/Bay Area individuals are preferred, but remote work is possible. Salaries commensurate with experience.

This is an opportunity to work with a game pioneer and a world-renown non-profit research institute to help address the problems we face as a global society over the coming decade. We expect this game to be groundbreaking and receive a lot of attention, not to mention extremely fun to work on.

Interested? Send Jane an email and tell her about yourself and your experience - write to jane @ avantgame dot com!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008 make no sense

Yesterday, I received an email from Facebook indicating that IFTF had been granted Network-status. It took a while for IFTF to be listed in the network directory and after finding it, sharing my work email, and confirming my email, I was presented with the following information:

My question...why send the email to me/create a network for my employer in the first place?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

2008 Taste of Howell Mountain

I am headed to the Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena this afternoon for a wine and food tasting and a silent/live auction: 2008 Taste of Howell Mountain. Pics and an update later!

[Update: won two silent auctions! Not even close on the live auctions, though. Are top bids (what we would pay for) were often at or below the starting bid. Pics will have to wait as I dropped my camera into some water.]

[Update 2: camera was saved after weeks of desiccating in the refrigerator. Here they are!]

Thursday, June 19, 2008

My longest international flights

I made a long international trip a couple of weeks ago (Italy!), so thought I would list my longest international flights. The best website I could find is Web|Flyer's MileMaker Mileage Calculator. (Please let me know if there is a better site.)

Here they are (apologies to those who prefer to use kilometers!):
  1. 5680 miles: San Francisco - Frankfurt, Germany
  2. 5620 miles: San Francisco - Seoul, Korea
  3. 5520 miles: Los Angeles - Nadi, Fiji
  4. 5110 miles: San Francisco - Tokyo, Japan
  5. 4760 miles: New York - Sao Paulo, Brazil
  6. 4080 miles: Miami - Sao Paulo, Brazil
  7. 3210 miles: Miami - Santa Cruz, Bolivia
In September, I will likely be going to South Africa...and if I get the DC to Cape Town leg...that will be 7930 miles! The big daddy of them all is Newark to Singapore: 9520 miles!

What is your longest flight?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

New IFTF report: Smart Infrastructures: Computational Resources to Burn

There is a new addition to IFTF's public library. From the Technology Horizons Program is the report, "Smart Infrastructures: Computational Resources to Burn"

Over the next 15–20 years we will overcome limits in availability of our computational resources. While today, high-performance computing applications are mostly limited to capital-intensive industries like petroleum exploration, aircraft and automotive design, and pharmaceuticals, over time these capabilities will migrate to mass markets and eventually into the hands of consumers. In this world of abundant computing, our interactions with computers will no longer be constrained to laptops, desktops, and handhelds. High-powered computing capability will be embedded in our physical environment, in living things, medicine, walls, furniture, garments, tools, utensils, and toys. We'll be able to interact with information in place as naturally as we interact now with physical things, which will become increasingly less passive, and more active. In short, the computation revolution will have huge impacts on daily life, workplaces, and in many industries. In this memo we review the fundamental technologies driving exponential growth in computing resources and some of the likely applications in areas such as entertainment, gaming, health, and communications.

New IFTF report: Sensory Transformation: New Tools & Practices for Overcoming Cognitive Overload

There is a new addition to IFTF's public library. From the Technology Horizons Program is the report, "Sensory Transformation: New Tools & Practices for Overcoming Cognitive Overload"

Information overload has become a cliche. We use the phrase half-jokingly to describe the stress associated with the onslaught of media that digital technology has unleashed on us. The sobering reality is that we ain't seen nothin' yet. The vast majority of new information technologies are either built for data acquisition (e.g., sensor networks and camera phones) or information dissemination (e.g., blogs, RSS, location-enhanced media, and aware environments). The suffocation of endless incoming e-mail demanding immediate response, the twinge of guilt from falling behind on your RSS feeds, dread about a TiVo hard drive full of unwatched shows these are all just a teaser for what to come. No matter how many computers surround us, collecting, aggregating, and delivering information, we each only have one pair of eyes and ears, and more importantly, one mind, to deal with the data.

Friday, April 25, 2008

STIRR Deal Hacks (and STIRR Birthday!)

STIRR Deal Hacks (and STIRR Birthday!)
  • Wednesday, May 14...6-9pm
  • Bistro 412
  • 412 Emerson Street
  • Palo Alto CA
Join other founding teams and investors for STIRR's first Deal Hacks.

STIRR Celebrates It's 3rd year with a twist. This time we bring you two of the best early stage investors in the spotlight for Deal Hacks. Each VC will be sharing personal stories from the the investment side of the fence. They'll be available afterward for group Q&A.

Year 3!

This event kicks off STIRR's 3rd year. We'll be clebrating by returning to the site that started it all back in April 2006: Bistro 412 (formerly F&A's). The venue has a beautiful back patio and we've reserved the whole space just for STIRR.


Who should attend?
  • Founding Teams of launched Internet, Mobile, Enterprise, Software related BioTech and Cleantech
  • VCs
  • Qualified Angels
  • Top level engineering talent
  • Press (must qualify for pass:
Who shouldn't attend (these folks bring us down):
  • No deal finders/middlemen
  • Non-investing advisors (aka 'Advisory Capital')
  • Unrelated consultants, service providers, tourists
STIRR's mixer events are designed to bring together the founding teams of early stage startups and later stage entrepreneurs. The events are created and hosted by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. STIRR events are never PR stunts or sales pitches and we never sell/rent our email lists.

Some of the venue and food cost have been graciously sponsored by:

Sun Microsystems -

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Why I won't upgrade my SUV's Navigation System

Last year, I bought an SUV (2007 Honda Pilot) and choose the Navigation System as an add-on. This added ~$2,000 to the cost of my vehicle. Even knowing that they made a huge margin on the nav system, I am quite happy with it. What I didn't ask about at the time, was upgrades to the system (new points of interest, new roads, upgraded features, etc.). A mistake.

The vehicle had been making a funny sound when I gently accelerated, and as the 10,000 mile mark had passed, I thought that a check-up was in order: oil change, rotate the tires, top off the car juices, etc. & also have the sound looked at/fixed. When I dropped off the vehicle, I also inquired if a Nav Update was available. A hesitant look and a quick response was given, "you'll have to speak to parts, they can tell you." It didn't seem to important to me at the time to do this, so I didn't. I went to work and returned around 5pm and all was in order (the sound was fixed, too!).

Today, while speaking to a colleague about nav systems (he just got a Dash Express), I queried him about updates. We googled and quickly found this site that show you if an update is available. One is...but only to dealers...and at a cost of, get this, $191 + tax. I called them for clarification. It will be available to consumers in July at the same price. Now...what do I get for this upgrade? Here's the list. Coverage was expanded (in places that I probably won't be driving to)...and here are the full list of new "features":
  • One way streets (indicated with arrows on the 1/20 mile scale - turn on in Icon Options - "Other icons")
  • Loss of male voice prompts (voice prompts revert to female - regardless of previous setup setting)
  • Additional brand icons for restaurants, motels and other POIs
  • Updated maps and POIs
I don't know about any of you...but how is this upgrade worth $191 + tax?

Tele you have an answer? (For those that don't know...Tele-Atlas is the supplier of this data to Alpine USA, the maker of my nav system.)

IFTF's next conference: The Future of Making: Making the Future

Here is what IFTF is up to next! Should be a fun conference!

The Future of Making: Making the Future
2008 Technology Horizons Spring Exchange, May 4-5, 2008

We are on the verge of a transformation in how products are designed, manufactured, and distributed. The entire supply chain is undergoing reinvention and the impact will be felt not only by manufacturers but by individuals, households, communities, even entire regions. Driven by the need to innovate faster than ever before, green aspirations, and a quest for authenticity, new paradigms for "making things" are emerging. The introduction of cheap 3D printers, the growth of the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) culture, the rise of ad hoc manufacturing, and the popularity of collaborative communities around ideas, designs, and R&D all point to how the future of making may play out. What will these new models for making look like? Who will be the new makers? What role will your organization play in the new production chain and what will it mean for how you relate to your customers?

We will begin the exploration by immersing ourselves in the at the third annual Bay Area Maker Faire, a massive celebration of DIY culture taking place at the San Mateo Expo Center on May 3 and 4. Sponsored by MAKE:, the DIY technology projects magazine, the Maker Faire is packed with "weak signals"—projects, methods, and people that can give us glimpses of the future of making. After our Sunday at the Maker Faire, we will gather the next day at a nearby hotel to make sense of what we've learned. IFTF's Technology Horizons team will present the new Future of Making Map, a framework for thinking about this transformation. Joining us will be a handful of future-thinking, passionate experts who will help us understand how to navigate a future where making itself is being remade.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Gmail being attacked?

I usually wake up to about 10 new emails and 30 Spams (in my Gmail account) when I wake up. This morning , it was 52 and 1585. My work email was unaffected. Since you can only delete 50 emails at a time from Gmail's Spam folder, it took me a few minutes to be back to normal. Did anyone else notice an attack?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hillary is Moms Jeans

Such a funny site! Keep refreshing and enjoy. Not sure what are done with suggestions...but there are some good ones!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Just read: Wine and War

Last week, I watched Downfall and was intrigued to read a book that I picked up a couple of months ago: Wine and War: The French, the Nazis, and the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure. I studied French in high school and have begun buying some nice CdP wine so thought it was time to learn some history and mix it up with my new passion. For those that don't know much about the wine country of France, this is a great historical guide to learn about the various regions and some of the "big" houses of Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne. If you like wine, history, or'll be happy to read this. I have a copy if interested!

Next up: Bobos in Paradise (well...I have about 30 pages not really next up). Thanks for the loaner copy, Michael!

Lawrence Lessig for California's 12th District!

Even though he doesn't represent me (Pete Stark does), I am all in favor of Lawrence Lessig taking over the vacant 12th District. See if this video moves you to do something (contribute or voluteer). He'll make his decision the first week of March.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Sad news from Korea

During my trip to Seoul last year, I was lucky enough to visit the Namdaemun Gate (one of Korea's National Treasures) the morning of my departure. Sadly, and arsonist burned it down on Monday. I snapped a few pictures of it before we left. My colleague Anthony has some footage of it while there in 2004.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Now Reading: Cormac McCarthy's The Road

Cormac McCarthy won the Pulitzer Prize for The Road. You may recognize his name from the recent movie No Country for Old Men. The Road is a postapocalyptic tale of a father and his son who walk alone through a burned America. Having just finished The World Without Us, I thought it would be a good follow-up.

After this, I will drift to 1940s France...war and wine!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

My new camping toy: a Zero degree bag from North Face

From time to time I'll go snowshoeing with my buddy Michael in the Sierras. Some trips will be windy, others will be quite cold. Based on my experience on that last one...I decided to get a new bag. A trip yesterday to REI (weekend clearance sale) led me to this Zero degree synthetic from North Face, aptly named Snowshoe. Thanks to all those REI gift cards that I received for Xmas, it was almost free. Thanks everyone!

I'm like a kid with a new toy with purchases like this, so after bringing it home, I immediately tried it out. It worked well...too well...I was sweating in about 5 minutes. PERFECT!

This is my new snowshoeing/camping in cold weather bag. I'll keep the 20 degree bags for regular camping trips.

Friday, January 11, 2008

IFTF is hiring: Research Manager—Health/Health Care Emphasis

Let me know if you are interested!



Research Manager—Health/Health Care Emphasis

Position Title and reporting relationship

The Research Manager reports to the Director of the IFTF Health Horizons Program. No subordinate staff report to this position.

position summary

This is a high-level position charged with doing qualitative and quantitative research across a range of topics, but with special emphasis on issues pertaining to health and health care—the health care delivery system, health technologies, pharmaceuticals and genomics, public policy, health care consumers, and health behaviors. The focus is on discontinuities, intersections, drivers, and barriers shaping the future of health and health care in a global context. (See for the Institute for the Future and the Health Horizons Program descriptions.)

the ideal candidate

The ideal candidate will have undergraduate and graduate degrees in a combination of life science and social science and possibly a Master’s or PhD in a related field. He/she will have worked in the health care field with research or public policy experience. This person will be able to understand technology, its applications in health and health care and resulting societal and business implications.


Working within a team environment the primary responsibilities of the Research Manager are as follows:

  1. He/she makes suggestions for Program direction and marketable deliverables that are consistent with the Program’s goals and objectives.

  1. He/she understands research methodology well enough to structure and lead and carry out primary and secondary research tasks with high quality, on schedule, and within budget.

  1. Based on the research results and with input from others, he/she develops foresights about the business consequences of plausible alternative futures as well as insights for decision makers about links to their strategic choices and action plans.

  1. He/she then communicates these finding both in writing and in person. Writing includes succinct executive summaries (1–5 pages), provocative articles (6–15 pages), and research monographs (16–100 pages). Writing must be accurate and effective, clear and compelling. The Research Manager will present these results in a wide variety of face-to-face forums, from small-group workshops to large-group conferences.

  1. He/she will design and organize conferences, workshops, seminars, teleconferences, and other events. He/she will facilitate discussions at these events to ensure clarity and understanding. Some of these group sessions may involve working directly with clients.

  1. He/she represents the Institute and effectively communicates the scope and value of the Institute’s Programs to such a degree that he/she can bring new clients to the Institute.

knowledge/skill requirements

Candidates for this position must have 2–5 years’ experience in health or health care research, project management, or operations combined with time spent in strategic planning. Some background in public policy issues is highly desirable.

He/she must demonstrate strong qualitative analytical skills, such as gathering information and data from multiple sources, conducting interviews, designing surveys, and analyzing and drawing insights from data.

He/she must also show strong quantitative analytical skills, such as probabilistic analysis and other advanced tools or analysis techniques.

This position requires a proven ability to structure, lead, and manage research projects.

The candidate must also possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills, organizational and multi-tasking capabilities, and group meeting facilitation talents. In addition to working efficiently alone, he/she must collaborate well with other researchers, team members, staff, and outside experts. Our fast-paced, small-business environment requires that He/she is flexible, works at an above-average pace, and performs with minimal supervision.

This position requires strong computer skills and experience conducting research via the Internet. A working knowledge of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, group calendaring, and database programs is required.

educational requirements

Candidates for this position must have at least a Master’s Degree. Our ideal candidate will have a multi-disciplinary background, business degree, or an education in a life science discipline and the ability to broadly apply it.

location and hours

This full-time position is located at the Institute for the Future’s Palo Alto offices. Working hours are flexible, but should overlap most of the normal business day.

IFTF's X2 Project: seeking Stanford and Berkeley grad students

Full details on IFTF's X2 Project can be found here.

We’ll need resumes from those that are interested to see if they are a fit. Contact me (Sean) if this interests you!



Hi All:

We are planning to have an informal, one-day X2 signals workshop for local graduate students around the end of January. We're looking for nearby graduate students, particularly at Stanford and Berkeley, who are working/studying in core science and technology disciplines.

Including, but definitely not limited to...

*Life sciences (especially neurobiology & behavior, genetics, biochemistry & molecular biology, microbiology)

*Engineering (especially electrical & computer, biomedical, chemical & bio-molecular, materials science, information technology, nanotechnology)

*Computer science (no preference)

*Physics (especially solid-state, biophysics, optics, high energy, quantum mechanics, astronomy/cosmology)



While currently enrolled in graduate school is good, we'll also consider recent graduates if they're interested -- undergrad/M.S./M.Eng./Ph.D. We're also particularly looking for international students.

We'll be offering a stipend of approx $250, permanent access to the X2 platform, and of course free food and Wii breaks. The 'workshop' will last one day, probably Friday, January 25.

Friday, January 04, 2008

My next book: The World Without Us

New Reading: The World Without Us - How earth evolves if humans suddenly disappear.

Just Finished: The Last Town on Earth - Having read The Great Influenza (read it!) earlier in the year, the logical next step was to read some historical fiction about the 1919 Pandemic. Read it!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New Year's Eve blind wine tasting

We had some friends over for dinner/NYE celebration yesterday and enjoyed some great wine! Here is what we had...

To whet our appetite with cheese and other morsels, we started with:

2001 Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon Bosche Vineyard

The suggested wine varietal for the tasting was Chateauneuf-du-Pape. As a group, we haven't had much French wine experience (Napa and Sonoma are too close to ignore!), so we decided to expand our horizons. I planted a decoy in the mix just for fun. After the tasting, we tallied up the scores and came up with this ordering:

5. 2005 Gilles Barge Cote-Rotie Cuvee du Plessy - this one seemed to be tainted
4. 2000 Chateau Laroque - my favorite!
3. 2005 Orin Swift The Prisoner - the decoy
2. 2004 Patrick Lesec Chateauneuf-du-Pape Chasse Temps - #1 for 3 tasters
1. 2003 Chateau La Nerthe Chateauneuf-du-Pape - #1 for 5 tasters

(Note that CdP was hard to fine on short other French wines were substituted.)

We enjoyed the rest of the wine with dinner (chicken, pasta, seafood gumbo) and also opened up four more bottles:

2002 Sterling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
2000 Pierre Gaillard Cote Rotie Cote Rozier
2005 Simi Dry Creek Valley Late Harvest Zinfandel
2005 Mount Palomar Chardonnay Solanus Late Harvest

And for the New Year's toast, we opened up some champagne:

N.V. Marcel Hemard Champagne ORIGINE
N.V. Charles Heidsieck Champagne Brut Reserve
N.V. Jeanmarie Champagne Cuvee Brut

Happy New Year to all!!!