Grace Pledger, Senior in Graphic Design
Although we might be tempted to think of it as a recent invention, future-casting is a new term for a very old practice. Man has always looked to the future and dreamed of what would come next. We create fantasies, fictions of what may come. Some of these fictions become realities and others do not. Some fantasies that were supposed to be fictional do not stay in the realm of the imagination; some well thought out predictions never quite reach reality. It was this fascinating look into how people in the past thought of the future that first drew me to the practice of future-casting. I found it entertaining to see what people in the past predicted would come true. Out of this simple entertainment came a more anthropological view that lead into my interest in future-casting today.
It is difficult to say what will become a reality and what will stay a fiction in a designer’s head when I look at future-casting now. Looking at the future-casting of the past I can see what came true and what did not, but that is not necessarily the most interesting application. Looking at the future-casting of the past shows me what our predecessors were aiming for, what their hopes and dreams and obsessions were. Sometimes what I see is laughable and outlandish, sometimes it is fairly accurate. The beauty is that I get a window into the past— a perspective of how the future should have been or their fears of how they thought it would turn out.
What I have found from looking at the past is that I can now apply those same criteria to the present. We are subject to the same fallacies that affected our predecessors. What this means is that in reality, future-casting tells me more about the present than it does about the future. The future-casting of today is a world of glass, focused on screens and constant unrelenting connection to technology. It is our job, especially as designers, to question whether the future we are asking for is the future we want. However this does not mean that future-casting is a foolish or useless endeavor, because it is what we do now that makes the future. What we are thinking about and focusing our attention on at this moment is what sets our trajectory as we head into the future. Ask yourself what future you want and go set out to make it. The realities of tomorrow are the fictions of today.