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How to Spot the Future

How to Spot the Future
Photo: Brock Davis Thirty years ago, when John Naisbitt was writing Megatrends, his prescient vision of America’s future, he used a simple yet powerful tool to spot new ideas that were bubbling in the zeitgeist: the newspaper. He didn’t just read it, though. He took out a ruler and measured it. As clever as Naisbitt’s method was, it would never work today. This may sound like a paradox. So how do we spot the future—and how might you? It’s no secret that the best ideas—the ones with the most impact and longevity—are transferable; an innovation in one industry can be exported to transform another. This notion goes way back. Sometimes the cross-pollination is potent enough to create entirely new disciplines. More recently, the commonalities between biology and digital technology—code is code, after all—have inspired a new generation to reach across specialties and create a range of new cross-bred disciplines: bioinformatics, computational genomics, synthetic biology, systems biology. Related:  Education FuturesNews/Opinions/Politics

Elements April 18, 2014 The Antisocial-Media App A few weeks ago, I was in a café across the street from my house, having just put in an order for the first cappuccino of the day, when a woman walked in with her young son. I recognized him as one of the children who is regularly looked after by the same child minder as my own son. The woman, on the other hand, I had never seen before. The boy obviously recognized me, too, because as his mother was placing her coffee order he smiled up at me and said hello. April 17, 2014 Little Lies the Internet Told Me Everyone knows about the big Internet scams: the e-mails advertising diet pills, the proposed Nigerian bank transfers. Take search. The Happiness App On a sunny morning, Ofer Leidner, a co-creator of an app called Happify, sat in a meeting room at the Fueled Collective, in SoHo, where about half of Happify’s staff works in a corner of a large, open-plan space, among some twenty other startup teams. ...Continue Reading >> April 16, 2014 April 15, 2014

Census: Everybody’s moving into their parents’ basements Daniel Sherrett, 28, prepares dinner with his mother as part of his deal to live at home. Parents and children are sharing homes for longer than expected. (Michael Temchine/The Washington Post) Ever since the financial crisis hit, Americans have found it harder and harder to live on their own. In spring 2007, there were 19.7 million shared households. This number does not include co-habitating or married couples. Not surprisingly, the poor economy played a huge role here. The official poverty rate for young adults aged 25 to 34 living with parents was 8.4 percent in 2010, but if poverty status was determined by personal income, 45.3 percent would have been in poverty. That's an important number.

Coop Connections Measuring Future U.S. Competitiveness SOURCE: AP/Steve Helber Workers install seals on a door frame on the Volvo truck assembly line at the Volvo plant in Dublin, Virginia. Productivity growth for the first 12 quarters of this business cycle, from December 2007 to December 2010, totaled 7.6 percent, below the average of 8.5 percent for the previous eight business cycles lasting at least three years. By Adam Hersh and Christian E. Download this brief (pdf) Download the brief to mobile devices and e-readers from Scribd Productivity growth—the rate at which we increase production with a given amount of work and resources—is critical to our national economic prosperity and competitiveness, and a factor tied closely to the pace of real investment. As the U.S. economy continues to pull out of the Great Recession, a number of trends point to clear signs of trouble for present and future U.S. competitiveness. Yet a number of ingredients for faster productivity growth in the future do show promise. The numbers tell the tale U.S.

The future of jobs in Canada - Business Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail/CP On a recent February evening, Karl Eve received an emergency call from a restaurant owner in Canmore, Alta. The busy eatery had suddenly found itself with no hot water, even though the basement hot water tanks appeared to be working fine. It’s the sort of detective work Eve says he loves about his job. Eve’s story is more rare than it should be in Canada. At the same time, the nature of work itself is changing as the country transitions to a so-called knowledge economy that relies on a well-trained and highly educated workforce to produce value-added products and services. Economists call it a skills “mismatch.” Hence, Canada not only needs to encourage more people to enter the workforce, but to ensure everyone will be productive once they get there. Evidence of the shortage is already popping up in day-to-day life. But such cross-border shopping for talent threatens to become a problem in its own right. But immigration alone won’t be a panacea.

All Work and No Pay: The Great Speedup Which brings us to another shared delusion: multitasking. Our best efforts at collective denial notwithstanding, simple arithmetic reveals that even after housewives entered the workforce, the work of housewives still had to be done. Sure, some of it—especially child care—was outsourced, often at rock-bottom wages. But for many women, and a rising (though not yet sufficient) number of men, the second shift awaits each night. And it's increasingly being joined by a third shift, as we remain digitally tethered to the office in the diminishing hours we're actually home. Multitasking seems the obvious fix—let me just answer this email while I help with your homework! Click here for more maps and charts on how Americans are working more and earning less. Think you're the exception? Actually, it's not hard to guess why no one talks about it: We need to believe there's a personal workaround for what we're conditioned to see as a personal shortcoming. But take heart! No, no, and no. Exactly.

Technology related job gap How Mitt Romney Followed Me Around the Internet Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign event in Stratham, N.H., on June 15, 2012. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images) But it turns out the campaign wasn't advertising to Grooveshark listeners or a capella fans. They were targeting me. As a reporter covering how campaigns use voter data [3], I spend a fair amount of time on Romney's official website. "If you visit our site, you are likely to see our ads," a Romney campaign official told me, when I forwarded a screenshot of the ads. This is the same kind of online targeting [4] used by sites that sell airline tickets or shoes. But the fact that I was being targeted based on my visits to the campaign site wasn't at all clear from the ads themselves. Each of the ads had a teensy blue triangle in the top right corner. Because I report on online advertising, I know that the triangle means I've been targeted. I was only vaguely aware of ShareThis, and hadn't realized it had anything to do with advertising.

Inquiry Model YRDSB Just a Humble Tradesman, Trapped in a World He Never Made This morning, NPR’s Yuki Noguchi wanted to know how an ordinary small business owner feels now that the Obama health care law has been upheld. So she turned to this guy: The law will give some small businesses tax incentives to pay for employee health care. Starting in 2014, those with 50 or more employees will be required to provide it.That requirement is bad news for businesses like Perfect Printing in Moorestown, N.J. The company’s president and CEO, Joe Olivo, says he now has 48 employees, for whom he pays some health care coverage.But he’s intensely aware of crossing that 50-person threshold and will think very hard before hiring more people so he can avoid hitting government requirements that he says will raise his health care costs. Last night, Anne Thompson of NBC News wanted to know the same thing. ANNE THOMPSON: For small business owners like Joe Olivo, it is the unknown cost of the law that could impact his printing business….Olivo offers health care to his 48 workers.

OntarioSnapshop Trickle-Down Distress: How America's Broken Meritocracy Drives Our National Anxiety Epidemic Anxiety is growing into a peculiarly American phenomenon. How did we become the world's leading exporter of worrywarts? spaceodissey/Flickr America is turning into a country of hand-wringers. So we're more anxious than anything else -- and also more anxious than anyone else, beating out all other nations in our race to the top of the nerve-racked list. "The United States has transformed into the planet's undisputed worry champion," Clark adds. Things only seem to be getting worse, unfortunately. For adults, jobs are the leading source of stress, says Rosch, who points out that work-related anxiety has multiplied in recent years -- both for the unemployed and the employed. But it's not just the recession -- which is affecting countries around the globe -- that's to blame for America's nervous temperament. Reimagining American meritocracy In other words, as Hayes argues in his book, America isn't truly a meritocracy. The game is rigged from birth The meritocratic pressure-cooker Indeed.