Monday, September 04, 2006

Design Futures: Part 4

More on the role of leadership in design ...

"Part four of Design Futures: a conversation about the role of design-driven leadership in the product development process (be sure to check out part three first).

Jim Leftwich
I think Bob and are talking about two different things. He spoke of the difficulty, if not outright impossibility of prediction, and I'd agree with that. But that's not really what I was trying to describe. I was speaking to the idea of forecasting, which in my definition, is much more about identifying and mapping a future cone of possibilities and likely interrelationships. I describe it as a cone, since the further out one forecasts, the wider or more complex the area of interrelationships and dependencies become. While five years out is definitely a stretch, I think there are clearly some extrapolations that can be reasonably made and acted upon.

In talking about the necessity and value of forecasting, I wanted to steer clear of true, but misleading, absurd, or philosophical terms (i.e.: we literally don't know whether or not some freak catastrophe or disruptions might befall us, rendering all bets off). And I'm also not talking about making specific predictions about particular configurations or embodiments of usage. But we can indeed examine data from past and current usage models, and compare trends of usage in different countries and cultures. My work over the past few years in the mobile communication field has exposed me to the studies and data of user populations in Europe, Asia, and here in the U.S., and there are definitely patterns of convergence. Particularly in media such as music, and the prevalence of Instant Messaging and texting, and the similarities among different countries and cultures are greater as one looks at younger age groups. I'm fond of William Gibson's quote, that "the future is already here. It's just unevenly distributed."   (Continued via Functioning Form)   [Usability Resources]


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