PUBLISHING OUR FUTURE

Tucson Festival of Books  and BlindSpots
This concept, PUBLISHING OUR FUTURE,  emerged during the two day Tucson Festival of Books (4th largest in nation) on March 9-10, 2013. An under-current theme was the revolutionary transition underway as how humans create, produce, publish & distribute, consume and store semiotic structures. This is much bigger than the global spread of the cell phone (becoming a computer), self-publishing on blogs, eBooks, and print-on-demand. What is it now doing to, and will be doing to ‘how we share and communicate with each other’?
Personally I sampled only a very tiny bit from the festival, and inferred a great more.  I sat in on an excellent panel with David Brin and three other highly competent persons fielding good questions. The quality of intellect and knowledge was very high in the room. Yet, I did not contribute as all of my queries (requiring ongoing discourse) would not fit the Q&A format.  I hypothesize that the new technology is actually making it more difficult for persons to discourse and collaborate on complex issues.  This doc will tangentially address this issue, if only in that this doc, itself, is in this category.
The phrase “Publishing the Future” came to awarness lying in bed the next morning after the festival, with a strong feeling of satisfaction. I had many thoughts that orbited that title for over an hour – most now forgotten, but which will re-emerge in this writing. This phenomenon, of the sudden emergence of a “best ” name or phrase and the feeling it is “right” is of interest.
After composing first drafts of a number of preliminary sections I was diverted and the core of this essay was virtually forgotten for a few weeks (today – 3/23/2013). I woke with the intent to continue but was not having motivating ideas – indeed I was frustrated being unable to get back to my prior excitement. But, I sat on waking at my computer to experience a blast of creativity – but in a direction parallel to the theme Publish Our Future.  The parallel them may be called SCRIPTING AND PERFORMING SOCIETAL FUTURES, which was an underlying theme in my earlier proposal for a Boostrapping Uplift Scaffolding (BUS).  After dumping many ideas on this theme I am about to review and edit what I had written and then return to now dual themes.
A few days earlier I wrote a short essay, that may provide a lead-in to this doc:  Blind Spot: Holes in Our Future.
 BLIND SPOT: HOLES IN OUR FUTURE
Most people have a very sketchy and incoherent map of potential future events and processes. What ideas they do have they gained from information sources and except for special circumstances they don’t discuss futures that don’t directly involve themselves.

  •                 Some may have read about the fate of our sun, our galactic collision with Andromeda, and the varying “end” of the expanding (or contracting) universe. Climate change and consequences of natural disasters (including asteroid collisions and volcanic eruptions) may interest a few. Wars and droughts, economic swings and how their critical environments are changing are topics of discussion for some. But for the vast majority, they are either totally oblivious of these futures speculations or treat them as irrelevant trivia.
  •                 The future of peoples and systems unknown would not be of concern.  A few simplistic theories may exist for the few future events and processes a person may have heard or read. Most people will have views of the future coorelated with the media they attend to.
  •                 The future of concern to most involves the lives of themselves and those they know – and phenomena that may directly effect them. To the extent of their knowledge of history they may project past trends into the future.
  •                 For most, the future of their community or nation would be a mystery and the future of humankind and Gaia beyond imagining.  The exception being those with religious or spiritual visions

These people and their limited views of futures are not the topic of this essay. They may be “blind” to most of the future, but it isn’t a “blind spot”: a hole in the conception of the future by those most expert in thinking and writing about futures.
I will not attempt to catalogue here all the topics about the future that are discussed by those most knowledgeable – it is very extensive and both exciting & disturbing.  Even the most dedicated “futurist” will have many domains of ignorance about future topics (where they know OF some of the literature and projects but are not well versed on details). Given the rapid growth of our knowledge and know-how, individual “futurists” can be aware of only a small part of future projections.  Yet, many tend to believe that their future domain is the most important and will be the “driver” for what will be.

  •                 Political and economic futures are in the news, and felt by those who don’t attend to the news.  By “news” I include lengthy reports and treatises about past, current, and forecast happenings.  The other dominant theme are technological inventions, their applications, and exciting forecasts of futures where everyone is using the new technologies – with both negative (drones and surveillance) and positive (green, healthy, and creative) outcomes. How these piecemeal happenings might interact is beyond imagining.

Our blind spot, our hole in our future is “the WHOLE future”.  We have lost sight of the forest for the trees. Our obsession with parts seems to have rendered even the imagination of “whole” impossible.

  •                 I don’t mean knowing each and every detail.  A comprehensive catalog of all trees doesn’t tell us about a forest.
  •                 One might say we lack the Big Picture – but it may be that the metaphor of “picture” is part of our difficulty.
  •                 Some will find an excuse in the overwhelming complexity “of it all” and claim it a futile waste of time and effort.
  •                 These, and others, are factors of – but not causes for the blind spot.  It is the purpose of this essay to initiate an exploratory expedition into The Blind Spot.  It is not my objective to attempt to define or describe The Blind Spot or “the WHOLE future”.  However, I believe it is critical that a critical sub-population of humans undertake this learning expedition with appropriate commitment and energy.

APOLLO PROGRAM ANALOGY
The learning expedition called the Apollo Program to put humans on the moon and return the safely to Earth can be used as an analogy for some aspects of what we face on our expedition into The Blind Spot of the Future of Earth.
When the Apollo program was announced only the Russians had placed an object in orbit.  We didn’t immediately start launching rockets to the moon in hope that one would get there.  We started to learn/research (isn’t it interesting that we usually think learning occurs when one reads about the research and that the research is not, itself, a learning process).  The early focus was on propulsion; but we didn’t wait for years until we had the power to reach the moon to begin designing how we would navigate there, land and take off, and return and safely land on Earth.  And, to research how humans would survive the trip.  And, what other things would we humans learn from executing the program – and what spin-offs might accrue?
From the very beginning “the WHOLE project” was the focus – the forest and the trees.

  •                     This included the politics and economics, and the international relationships involved.  A major push in science and math education in the USA was part of the effort (and was cut back once we got to the moon). Beating the Russians to the moon may have been more important for many than actually getting to the moon.
  •                     The Apollo Program gave rise to great improvements in SYSTEMS thinking and processing. Some sub-projects were off limits to political and economic influence. Sub-project interfaces were managed and it wasn’t essential that those working within a subproject knew anything about what was happening in other subprojects – only that they each had interface requirements to meet. For example, the propulsion team had to limit acceleration to that which would not harm astronauts.
  •                     But, there were teams that attended to the whole project – and the design of later stages depended on results from earlier stages. There was a concrete objective, land men on the moon and return them to Earth, but the project was not a deterministic program – it was a learning process.

I’m not aware of many of the details and am not sure a depth study of the whole Apollo Program would be instructive to us, today – or to study other similar programs in humankind’s history.  But, it might be useful to use this rough sketch in analogy for a Learning Expedition to “launch & land” humankind in a “safe” condition on Gaia (in a time frame determined by the rate of destruction to Gaia, including but not limited to Climate Change causes).
This task lies at the center of our Blind Spot.

Blind Spot  vs  Grand Challenge
I will call the task I cited above our “Grand Challenge”.  I deeply believe that our success with our Grand Challenge will be dependent on our adequately comprehending the nature of our Blind Spot.  Unless we comprehend why we have been avoiding our Grand Challenge, what we select to do may avoid doing things that may remain in our Blind Spot, but essential for doing.
The Blind Spot represents somethings essential (to success) missing in our comprehension about REALITY.  Our task is not just to design a program for changing “the world” as we know it into something better – and to fill the Blind Spot with that design. The Blind Spot is telling us that “the world” ISN’T WHAT WE THINK IT IS, NOR ARE WE WHO WE THINK WE ARE.

Blind Spots in Reality
This essay is not the place to go into detail, although I am very tempted to do so.  At least provide a few illustrations or examples. However, specific examples often lock in a bias (paradigm) unless many, alternative examples are given at the same time.
Not only are there holes in our conceptions about futures, there may be holes (blind spots) in our other ideas about reality.  I am not speaking of areas and topics we don’t  know enough about, or may even have inaccurate or misleading information.  Blind spots are missing directions for looking; they are domains where even imagination is lacking.
One learning exercise is to identify memes we are familiar with today and explore times in the past when those memes were missing.  We can do the same today with new memes that only a few humans are aware of.  Then, explore how we all are unaware of essential memes – not because we don’t “see” them, but because the direction to look to see them is not a direction we have learned to look. We may even argue that such directions can’t exist.

Grand Process
Designing projects for our Grand Challenge, with an open mind to Blind Spots, can be a Grand Process where humankind births humanity and we transcend our embryonic larvae era of civilization to emerge as a butterfly of humanity.  Our nu reality will be as different as the reality of a flying butterfly is from a crawling caterpillar.
Think on the Blind Spots of Reality for the Caterpillar – and the human conditioned to civilization.
You can’t see the blind spot in our future, that I refer to. You are not alone.  I, the author of this essay can’t see the blind spot either. But I see evidence for its existence – just as visual perception researchers study our visual blind spot even when having one themselves.
The purpose of this essay is to alert you to the Blind Spot in our future and interest you in possibly joining a learning expedition to explore this Blind Spot and free us to work on our Grand Challenge.
IN BRIEF
Reality beyond our immediate perceptual environment is inferred from what we process from semiotic structures (that we encounter in our immediate perceptual environments). When we act with intent to effect our larger societal world, we do so in response to these sems.  Special sems can be created and published related to anticipated activity in the future, and systems of those sems can serve as maps for coordinated action. This longish doc will explore the potentials of Publishing Our Future.
PUBLISHING
“Publishing Our Future” is but one interdependent project/enterprise essential to the overall process of creating a viable new Humanity, integrated with Gaia, through our nightmare Crisis-of-Crises.
“Publishing Futures” is more general, where we will explore how corporations, nations, religions and other populations publish their own futures. Indeed, Publishing Futures is a defining practice of civilization, but is seldom made explicit – even to its practitioners.
I extend the meaning of “publishing” in this doc – to all processes bringing created SEMS (semiotic structures) to the attention of perceivers (readers, viewers, listeners) and to seaf their feedback into the continuing creation of new SEMS.

  •         Seaf = integrated process of supporting, enabling, augmenting, and facilitating an activity but not actually doing it for another.

The creation of SEMS is usually not a formal part of publishing, but distribution, storage and access is. However, new technologies in publishing will greatly effect the SEMS that are created.

  •         The boundary between creating and publishing sems is blurred when editing is considered.
  •         One can easily imagine sems emerging from collective activity in an editing system.

There will be “economic” factors in publishing, but my use of the term removes “economic gain” from the purpose of Publishing Our Future.
Publishing is a process that links “Senders” with “Receivers”. Creators with Appreciators. Writers with Readers.  The receivers/perceivers of created/published SEMS must not only have access to the SEM but must be competent to read, comprehend, and gain meaning from the SEMs.  Education is our label for the process that develops these requisite competencies in populations.

  •         Traditionally publication and education are separate domains (except publishing for education). In “Publishing Our Future” a new form of “education” will be part of the process – as the Receivers (Readers) will become participants in the development and maintenance of the whole publishing process.

SEMS & SOCIETY
Social vs Societal — the order of items below is not critical — this distinction calls for expanded study.
Social and societal processes are often concurrent.
Social refers to processes involving humans interacting in synchronous time in common perceptual spaces.

  •             This may include distant communication via voice, video, and some text-chat.  Sharp boundaries are not important.

Societal refers to processes involving humans behaving primarily in the context of “rules” often coded in systems of semiotic structures (sems).

  •             Tribes may have many complex rules, but they are not coded in traditional sems and they are learned via acculturation during growing-up in the tribe.
  •             Architecture and artifacts can be semiotic structures. In tribal setting where processes are primarily social, we may want to consider village layout and material structures contributing to the behavior of tribal members as an early version of societal. Rituals may also be considered as sems and utilized in tribal settings as societal.

Societal behavior may be viewed as performing to (societal) scripts (composed of sems). Roles are components of societal behavior.

  •             I have read that in Hopi culture, persons dressed as Kachinas play roles in community (societal) decision making where their personal needs are not a part (theoretically).  Kachina dolls serve in the education of Hopi children about the functioning of their community.  Whether this is accurate or not, it illustrates a way of distinguishing the social and societal.
  •             One other story about Anasazi governance (that I can’t find info by searching) was that they rotated different governance teams with the different seasons. The concept of having different governance processes for different situations needs exploration.  I recall a term like “morairity” used for this, but google doesn’t respond.
  •         Memories can influence both social and societal behavior.
  •         Individual persons can consult sems and subsequently act according to their interpretation – without any involvement of other persons.
  •         Most societies have an authorized set of primary sems, such as constitutions, holy books, legislative or legal proceedings, records & reports, plans, etc.  Most people encounter copies of these primary sem, which are often altered in an attempt to give some person greater influence or control. A great variety of literary sems attempt to weave the content of these sems into coherent narratives and explications which “define” the societies past, present, and potential futures.
  •         Complex societies may have multiple sets of “definitions” (for different sub-populations) of a society; often in sharp contradiction.
  •         Most contemporary communities are a mix of social and societal (and embedded in a nest of societal systems).
  •         We may error greatly when we attempt to model societies as large communities, or view communities as small societies.
  •         We will return to this distinction later, in greater detail.

New work is needed creating a better conceptual scheme for “societies”, with closer examination of how behavior patterns are influenced by the sem system. The changing role of sem creation and publication, and our new knowledge on human cognitive/emotional processes with explicit attention to diversity (individual differences).  We may discover that our “classical” models of societal formation and change are no longer adequate and although there are many contemporary exploratory ventures on different aspects of social and societal processes, no coherent/practical model seems emergent.  Is this another Blind Spot, a Hole in our Ideas about Society?
Elsewhere I speculate that we may error in using metaphors from the social and our common perceptual spaces as foundations for the “workings” of societies WHICH ARE NEVER OBSERVED.  We can’t observe the basic hypothetical components of societies: governments, corporations, institutions, legal, educational, economic, military, intelligence subsystems. Yet, we assume they function as the smaller systems we can observe and live within.

  •         When physics began to study systems they couldn’t observe (only know of events where these systems interacted with our instruments) they encountered problems developing coherent theories. Quantum physics emerged when physicists abandoned attempts to visualize atoms as tiny solar systems with electrons orbiting a central nucleus.  Although this metaphor, the Bohr Atom, continues in lay science popularity it no longer is a useful metaphor for those who want to predict observations. Indeed, the history of the struggle to create a physics of the atom that worked with the data was hampered by the strength of the Bohr Atom metaphor and the need to visualize processes (as they would be observed with human perceptual systems).  Hypothetical “things” scientists posit for the very small (quarks) and the very large (quasars) are not perceivable – in our human process of perception. Macroscopic instruments feed us data which we analyze and compare with theoretical models of these hypothetical “things”.  The space-time-energy behavior of these “things” in their unobservable world are often in conflict with the laws of reality in our familiar sense perception world. Indeed, often quite weird.
  •             The quantum factor we call “spin” was blocked in development by the imagined need that it correspond visually with our macro concept of spin. Only after the initial hint of spin analogy was abandoned by physicists did the full comprehension of that quantum factor emerge.  Yet, in lay terms we still speak of the solar system atom and spinning electrons.

The laws that govern the hypothetical “things” we posit for societies need not follow our “common sense” rules that govern material objects in our sensory perceptual spaces.  As in physics, behavior often goes weird when thresholds are crossed.  Human societal systems have crossed many thresholds in the past century. Human civilization, itself, has been around for a few millennia (long or short, depending on our perspective).
One other factor. Human systems are radically different from biological, chemical, and physical systems. Although we share much with other mammals, those traits that make us uniquely human (there are many) suggests that human systems may not function as other mammalian systems.  Yet, our contemporary models of human societies fail to account for any of our unique human traits – that is, our societal models are strictly mechanistic (using a mechanistic view of biology). “Weird humans may populate societies, but societies function uniquely as physical systems.”  All traits given to hypothetical humans in economic models could be programmed into robots. Is something wrong here?
PUBLISHING FUTURES
The FUTURE in the PAST – Weather & Sports
Except for personal concern about “tomorrow”, most people claim not to think much about the future. This is true, there is little explicit attention to the future – in particular beyond a few days.
But, the future is implied everywhere they assume tomorrow will be like today.  Their home, car, belongings will still be there – as will the streets and buildings around where they live. The sun will rise and set, even if behind clouds. The same stupid news will be debated in the media.  For most people, tomorrow will be like yesterday — and that that assumption is knowingly in question when a few decades are concerned (let along a few centuries), is of little practical (and thus meaningful) concern.  There are many exceptions.
We never experience the present. Even what we see and hear is delayed a small fraction of a second from the event sending waves of energy to our eyes or ears. Media news is the recent past. That an event a week ago being reported as news now (it was not known then) may be more important than an event happening a hour ago – is seldom considered in so-called news reporting.  The selection of events to report as news in the half-hour slot (smaller, given ads, weather, and sports) given all that is relevant renders the phenomenon quite stupid – and yet I watch!
Speaking of WEATHER. Here may be our exemplar for Publishing Futures. Although there are not yet reports of proposals to change the weather in our weather reports, persons will take action accordingly. With the increase of disaster weather, future publishing weather days in advance is critical.  Historically, persons whose work depended on weather trends (farmers & fishermen) attended to what sems were available to assist their own weather forecasting from direct observation and calendars. Consider Almanacs.
Might as well bring in SPORTS to the discussion. Sports involves Publishing Futures by informing about game schedules (and weather). This may include estimates as to outcome, some based on statistics; other based on gut. All published schedules of events are examples of Publishing Futures.  Elections and scheduled political events publish future.
Where change is expected, most look to the past in search of similar times where we pattern what will happen now to be similar to what happened then. Example: economic recoveries and bubbles.  I have no estimate about the degree of accuracy for this type of forecast.  I expect it is far less accurate than normally believed. Yet, the past is frequently referred to by policy makers and pundits to justify their actions. That we are now entering totally uncharted waters seems to be of little concern – even with the big CLIMATE CHANGE threat.
These small examples illustrate how sems published about potential future events serve as guides to human behavior.
Narrating Futures
Most published sems are not directly (or even tangentially) related to futures.
Although these published futures are founded on data sems or authenticated reports they are woven in narratives and scenarios.
Political Discourse as Publishing Futures
Political discourse is a mishmash of sems about the past, recent happening, and (dire or hopeful) claims about the future if something is (or isn’t) done.

  •                 The warping of primary sems (think 2nd Amendment) to seem to say the opposite of what other interpret them to say demonstrates how significant sems become in framing human behavior.  People rant and rave, not about what other people are doing or even saying, but about imaginary groups (e.g. political parties) and movements planning to do dirty deeds.  This often generates fear, by intention from some.
  •                 Budget forecasts play loose with figures derived from suspect sources – again published futures to be supported or resisted.

The bulk of my experience with this is in the USA over six decades, where significant changes were observed.  How political discourse publishes futures in other nations and organizations differ would be an interesting study.
Organizational Planning as Publishing Futures
From small businesses to global corporations, from military & intelligence to scientific & educational organizational planning has a long tradition.
Some of the most detailed futures studies/planning employ highly competent individuals with be best computer systems – and the results are often top secret.
Few organizational operations are initiated without plans. But, the plans can often be highly incomplete and inaccurate (e.g., the Iraq invasion and occupation). [Is an invasion/occupation a war?]

  •                 Operations to discover or steal plans (military or corporate) is a major enterprise – itself involving planning and publishing futures.
  •                 Refer to earlier description of The Apollo Program as a futures endeavor.

National Futures
Each nation (region or even town) will have historical narratives leading through the present to visions of their future.
Each will have a system of (often conflicting) narratives from different populations within their nation.
Published futures of this type are poor guides to human behavior; they are seldom programmatic.

  •                 The future vision of climate change motivates some to recycle and conserve, but with little sense as to how these limited behaviors will make a difference.

Some will have extensive sem publications related to their futures vision, others much less.
ALL visions are grossly naive in relation to the whole planetary context in uncertain turbulence over decades; even when published in great detail. None will be aware of their degree of naivete.

  •                 This is related to The Blind Spot.

Spiritual/Holistic Futures
Formal religious organizations do little future visioning beyond scheduling their events and planning for membership drives or the services they perform. Building repair and construction is a publishing futures activity for some – and was a  major activity spanning generations in the past.
There are numerous individuals and small groups who have highly imaginative and often quite intelligent and knowledgeable visions of a better future for the whole of humankind.  These are visions of a future state or condition and not of the steps to be taken to achieve that state.
They usually lack any imagined scenario of how that envisioned state will be achieved. They may cite a few “simple” steps (like educating all girls or micro-finance) that will magically catalyze the transformation they hope to occur. They don’t actually envision the transformation – the scenario from now to then.  A scenario is a Blind Spot for them.
Most will have practices they believe, if performed with the proper attitude – and live properly – “forces” will move others to their beliefs and the desired future will manifest.
There are a few whose practices lead them into special inner states where the “rest of the world and others” lose relevance or are part of a grander scheme for which they are not involved.
Technological Change
The historical record of technological change has been studied and reported in great detail.
Theoretical processes underlying such change has also be a topic of extensive study, which provides insights for future projections of technological change.
The very real impact of technological change on all other aspects of human existence is also well known (only to a few, unfortunately) – and we are learning more complex consequences of technology (some quite disturbing).
Technological change has also impacted other domains of human knowledge and competencies, some which – in turn – effect technological change.
Technological change may well be the most powerful driver of all change in human history – accelerating to threatening limits at this time; and yet potentially providing the tools and knowhow to navigate our Crisis-of-Crises.
Beyond the detailed published futures for specific technological development, there is little published futures on the integrated whole of technological change. Some may take exception to this claim.

  •             Science and speculative fiction can make the claim to be the leader in publishing futures; and in many senses this is true. Many forecasts of new discoveries appeared first  in SciFi. But, how many aspects of human life are actually treated by SciFi and how many changes might have been forecast in fiction but those areas were not written about?  SciFi, IMHO has been narrowly selective in its topics.  Many narratives attempt to provide strange settings for ordinary human behavior to unfold. Example: the space opera western genre. A few authors attempted to explore changes in human social systems, but either stumbled in attempting composing an Utopia or pursued the consequences of one or two variations leaving all else constant.  SciFi authors can’t be faulted for not doing what I am calling – in this doc – to be done:  Publish Our COMPREHENSIVE & VIABLE future.
  •             As I write this the author John Bruner and title The Shockwave Rider popped to mind – as a writer who explored alternative social systems and the adaptive consequences to technology. There are many others, including the 3 B physicists: Brin, Bear, and Benford.  I only wish there were more and human variation had been more broadly explored – and not only in the contemporary fantasy tales of new talents (which are also interesting).
  •             What I wanted to ask David Brin at the Tucson Book Festival (see the section at the start of this doc) was how to involve talented speculative fiction writers in a collaborative effort of fleshing out the Publishing Our Future in a system of narratives.
  •                 Today, a narrative may be the only way to keep a reader following (with interest) a large system of sems (like a book).
    Strategically, video dramas publishing the near future can serve as guides for behavior and learning for the whole population.
    I dream of a narrative for what I call UPLIFT TO SOCIETAL METAMORPHOSIS AND THE BIRTH OF HUMANITY.

The Social Media Revolution
Jabber Jabber Jabber
Waiting for Emergence – Will We Recognize EMERGENCE When It Manifests
Entrepreneurs – tied to the old — even with Crowd Sourcing
Many Futures
The Fog of Disorder
Chaos vs Disorder
I chose to distinguish between the meanings I ascribe to “chaos” and “disorder”.
DISORDER  is the consequence of the decay or destruction of order.
CHAOS is the font of new order emergent.
Imagine a super-imposed recording of hundred of musical themes. Apparent noise. This is a metaphor of chaos, a font of potentialities out of which some will manifest.
With some schemes of statistical observation, both chaos and disorder will appear similar.
Signal vs Noise
Today, much of the useful order emergent (much from our new technological advances) is as signal masked by the rising din of disruptive disorder.
Disorder often masquerades as order. Destruction dominates the news.
There is a fundamental asymmetry between emergent order (which is slow and building in strength) and disorder (which is sudden and attention attracting energetic). In simple competition, bad news always dominates good news.  Thus, news reporting can never treat good and bad news equally.

The Illusion of Order in Disorder
Human minds (for some reason) resist experiencing chaos/disorder – and tend to project order where no order exists.
We project animal figures on clouds and faces in wood grain. We find reason in situations where none is evident.
Sensory deprivation results in burst of creative imagery (for some).
“Confabulation” is a psychological process where detail is added to complete a perceptual gestalt.
The “situation of humankind” in 2013 is in a condition of extreme disorder. Yet, most persons experience a world of disturbing order; unaware that their forecasts beyond a few years have low probability.
There is much that we expect to remain unchanged. Our houses will not fall down and stores will remain filled with goods to purchase. Electricity, water and other services will continue. Climate associated disasters inform us that, for some, this continuance fails – and we hope it will be us next time. Will I continue to have an income? Will I continue to be protected? Will I eventually need to scramble among others for mere survival?  Except for those who have already experienced extreme disruption of their “way of life”, they expect it to continue (but with an underlying fear that it may not).
More psychological/sociological studies of people within or threatened by disasters is needed.  What is the Science of Survival?
What happens in any of the hot spots of 2013 will be washed out by the waves of disorder spreading from deep drivers. The new pope, the outcomes in Syria, Kenya, Mali, Venezuela, Detroit, US Congress vs Obama, Economic Games and Crises, Haiti and Fukushima, Drones and hacking, etc. are all situations where the outcomes for the general future are moot.
They attract media attention today, and each outcome will contribute to the disorder propagating, but any specific outcome will be irrelevant to the ultimate future of humankind by the end of the 21st century.
Climate change isn’t the only driver. Environmental destruction goes far beyond climate change. Uncharted are the forays into madness by human populations, almost as a lemming drive to species extinction – YET, in the midst of the most awesome and exciting blossoming of human creativity and holistic sensitivity to a larger, cosmic wisdom.
What might yet come is to be discussed later. Here we explore alternative views of our “reality”.
Estimating Probabilities
Humans are known to be very poor in estimating probabilities. {cite research}
Most probability estimates are based on the statistics of past incidents.  This technique has little validity when the situation is unique, with the possibility of Wild Cards or Black Swans.

Human Nature and Societal Alternatives
Human Nature
Civilization: The Default Mode
Regulating Destructive Propensities
Seafing the HUMANE traits of Emergent Humanity

Transformation vs Metamorphic Emergence
I posit a fundamental tension between two overarching alternative memes/scenarios for the future of humankind during the 21st century and beyond. The two scenarios are (1) incremental transformation of societal systems (local to global) to a new sustainable/resilient form (maybe after collapse) vs (2) a metamorphic emergence of a nu humanity in literal analogy to the emergence of a butterfly from and replacing the caterpillar (civilization).

  •                 Maybe “tension” is not the proper concept here, as the transformation meme is almost universally dominant and the metamorphosis meme is locked into metaphor for the few even aware of it.
  •                 Yet, there appears to exist some “power” that suppresses the emergence of the metamorphosis meme.

Planning Global Transformation Impossible
One reason for the Blind Spot may be that designing a viable plan for long term transformation of overly complex, very large, highly dysfunctional and chaotic societal systems (such as is humankind in 2012) is quite impossible. Any design for the future of one group while ignoring what is happening elsewhere on the planet is beyond foolishness.
Even if one could compile a comprehensive model for the whole of global humankind that showed points of potential leverage and where significant “local” change is possible, the deep inter dependencies of the whole system would eventually bring a destructive backlash on any successful “local” change should it have significant impact on others.

  •                         This could and should be demonstrated. A simplified model with the above basic characteristics could be constructed for computer simulation and would most likely demonstrate very high improbability of significant overall improvement.
  •                             Somewhat more complex than the Limits of Growth model of the Club of Rome.
  •                         One could then demonstrate that all attempts to make the model “more real” increases the improbability of improvement.
  •                         Acknowledged: such a demonstration would be comprehended and accepted by only a few in 2013. Versions of this model would be educational materials for an uplift program in Publishing Our Future.

By “local” above I mean any component or subsystem of the whole system, treated as a system capable of improvement within an “environment” of the rest of the system.
For example, significant improvements in education would result in citizens and consumers unwilling to tolerate traditional governmental or corporate systems and have the potential to attempt to change them.  Even a movement for local food production is strongly resisted by corporate agriculture who seek those markets.
Only when a “local” improvement has no negative impact on the rest of the system will it be tolerated. Exceptions would be in times of stress where suppressing the “locals” has low priority or the rare instance where the “local” improvement actually makes things better for some other components or subsystems who will then defend the “local” improvement.
When tried, the group (nation, UN, corporate system, etc.) will attempt a design where they will be eventually able to impose their plan on all others – including the eventual willing cooperation of others. But, given the very wide differences of worldviews and the availability of weapons of violence, the design usually includes conflict with possible war and the occupation of others.
Such group centered plans for world dominance are never fully thought through or ever approach comprehensiveness – as to attempt this quality would quickly reveal the impossibility.
The Emergence of Emergence
Although the concepts we today associate with the term “emergence” probably have a long history, with variations in different cultures (a study I would like to see) I have detected – over the past five decades – a rise in popularity of usage.
However, seldom in contrast with “transformation”.  Indeed, when pushed for greater depth it is usually revealed that the fine structure behind what others use “emergence” to label is actually a variation of “transformation”.
This is not the doc for a comprehensive explication of the transformation/emergence issue; so I will simply state a few propositions without further explication.
TransFORMation is a process where an operation is performed on a system that changes its FORM (components and relationships) incrementally leading eventually to a new state (FORM) of the system significantly morphed from the old.
Emergence is a process where a FORM becomes manifest where there was no prior form that was transformed.
For determinists, emergence is magic and must be rejected. Apparent emergence must be subjected to searches for underlying transformation.
Contemporary SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY are limited to the study of transFORMation.
Although there is discourse about emergent phenomenon, there is yet no accepted scientific methodology for it, or for “true” origination.
I have recently discovered a distinction in the use of the term “emergence” that is relevant to the issues of this doc. I contrast my use of the term in association with metamorphosis (a caterpillar doesn’t transform/morph into a butterfly – the butterfly form emerges) with the use of “emergence” by the active movement of creatives online (my first connection was with the blog EmergentbyDesign by Venessa MiemIs and TheNextEdge Facebook group).
As I attempt to comprehend this activist movement I sense the human activity as the dynamics within the process of emergence (from chaos) but the participants are not interested in the new form emerging; but more interested in the process they have interacting with other agents of emergence.
There may even be a deep belief that they cannot influence the nature of the emergent form other than by their process. However, the title of Miemis’ blog, Emergent by Design, implies otherwise.  Aspects of a better humankind are part of the expectant emergence even if the whole of a new humanity are not imagined. Yet, there is no receptivity to the model of metamorphsis or a serious questioning of their assumptions for transformation among them. Metamorphosis is treated as metaphor for a massive transformation – where the details of that transformation are not to be explored.  Let is happen!
PUBLISHING OUR FUTURE
    Project Design & Management Software Programs
Our small exemplar of Publishing Our Future will be the software apps for Project Design and Management, initially developed for the construction business and large civil engineering enterprises. I doubt any major construction project on the planet that involves supply chains, workers, financing, government regulations, public relations, etc., don’t find these apps absolutely essential. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_management
It makes me wonder why I never read much about them, but then I don’t read much about word processors, spreadsheets or PIMs either.  Why are these essential tools of the new economy ignored in the public media? A major use of such apps is in software development projects themselves. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_project_management
In the mid 1990s I had a dialog with Leon Vickman (founder of the New Civilization organization) about our using project management software as a design framework for futures exploration.  That those apps had not yet matured to enable online collaboration and that the task was far too immense we passed on to other activity.  The ideas has returned to me periodically.  I have failed (not really tried hard enough) to learn about such apps used in the movie and TV business – as they would probably be more adaptable to activist project design than those specific for building construction.
I am not recommending that such software be attempted in “planning” the long term global future – an enterprise which is well beyond the nature and scope of a “project”. Projects simply don’t scale to that scope and duration.
However, such apps demonstrate how desired futures can be “published” in ways that greatly facilitate their manifestation (coming to be, roughly as intended).  Sems (semiotic structures) are organized and presented in a format that can be perceived by persons and teams enabling them to coordinate actions in time and place with appropriate precision.  The published program is updated as to what actually happens and can be rather easily adjusted when things don’t go exactly as anticipated.
Versions of these apps are part of the software used in emergent online collaborative ventures.  I am unaware of how successful their use is, how the field is improving, and what might be needed to make them more useful and to be used by more activist programs.
These apps illustrate how visions of future happenings can be made concrete as semiotic structures and published in forms to be used by persons to coordinate actions in time and place to make manifest those proposed happenings.  These published futures can also server as context for dialog and deliberation about alternative futures.

Storytelling
There is an active movement promoting storytelling of all forms.
There are periodic calls that “we” need a new “story” and persons are asked to contribute.  The issue is we have not adequately decided on what a story might be and how they are perceived and interacted with.
Writing a short story, novel, or even outlining a scenario doesn’t fill the bill.
Do we know what people actually “do with stories”?  What are the consequences of reading or listening to stories? How does the form of the story make a difference?
This essay attempts to address this issue – what stories do we need, what forms, and how might they be created and “processed”?  What do we do with stories?
What are the influences of the current crop of stories available today – from quality literature to reality tv?
What are the roles of storytelling (and story creation) in the provision of news and in education? What was the role of storytelling in history?

Publishing Futures Narratives
Basic project design software might be used as a framework to hang narratives of possible futures. For example, news-story reports of happenings at different time and places distributed in an exploration of a hypothetical scenario/strategy. This would give it “body”, and would permit playing with different ordering of events.  Variations of stories for similar projected happenings may call attention to factors leading to modification of the scenarios.
This is proposed for those activities activists hope and plan to perform in their work creating a better future. Narratives of tangible human experiences and behaviors would make learning about future actions more enjoyable and better suited for learning.
Both text and video narratives could be educational material for those learning what to do in the future.
Narratives could make “real” what purely conceptual explication leaves cold.  What might at first appear as an unrealistic proposal may become more feasible in the context of narrative.
Quality writers and performers could be attracted to contribute to a new edutainment media to substitute for the blood and gore of much conventional fare.
We need narratives that counter the current crop of negative futures of disasters and collapses.
Future histories are an alternative format to hang futures happenings and events.
Science and speculative fiction has a long history (with a wide range of quality) creating futures narratives, but only few have been useful in enlightening their readership in the full potentials of our future.  The emergence of a viable humanity metamorphosing from the collapsing caterpillar of civilization has so much exciting narrative potential – yet the best we seem to get is Avatar or Battlestar.  New variations of StarTrek and StarWars are not what I am proposing.
Today we lack software platforms and apps for Publishing Our Futures in narrative form.

Scenario Play
Scenario creation and design is a known technological practice; of which I am quite ignorant.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scenario_planning  Although some of this work may be useful for what I imagine, I expect that much of it is formatted in limiting paradigms that would not make it useful.
However, scenario thinking appears to be a poorly developed competency in most humans, including futures oriented activists. Too many are locked into their immediate project activity will little time, skills, or interest to explore consequences of the success of their actions.  Many leap in their imagination from what they are doing to a magical vision of a future where their work provided the “silver bullet” for its actualization.  Such an accusation would be denied by most, but a study of their behavior may prove otherwise.
Scenarios are the frameworks for the narratives discussed in the other section can be organized.
Creating scenarios should be fun, which is why I labeled this section Scenario PLAY.  This should be the guide for all that we do.  The six aspects of action in reesee includes ENJOYABLE, an essential feature of all successful action.
Scenarios are another example of Publishing Our Future, as they are represented by sems both produced and perceived.  Much activity in the Here&Now involves reacting to sems (created in the past) perceived now and creating sems to be perceived and reacted to in the future.  There is other activity, but publishing is essential and the quality of Publishing Our Futures will make a big difference in outcomes.

Futurespedia
In what ways will Publishing Our Future be similar/different from Wikipedia?
Similar in that it would be a managed collective production, with the management from the population of producers. All versions would be recorded and it would be open to all who have the interface.
Futurespedia would contain Wikipedia, in that all accurate and valid information significant to comprehending all aspects of reality should be included.  Whereas Wikipedia attempts to present the best of our contemporary knowledge (and hopefully, wisdom), futurepedia attempts to present possible future knowledge and wisdom.
Significantly, Futurespedia will include an educational/learning-facilitating overlay/dimension (that could be added to our contemporary Wikipedia).
A record would be kept of each person’s use of futurepedia and used to optimize their future navigation of futurepedia.
Formative evaluation measures will be available to test a user’s comprehension and to guide them to alternative versions to improve comprehension.
The learning styles profile of each user will emerge and be valuable as initial recommendations for use. Recommendations could always be overrun – and each user can (with assistance) improve on their profile.
Consequently, many alternative versions of the same information will exist.
Futurepedia would have curricular structures, as users will need to comprehend rationales for scenarios and proposed actions as well as descriptions.
Futurespedia would facilitate group and collaborative activity.  It would include multi-media and make use of new intelligent tools as they are invented.

Transparency and Privacy
Although not immediately obvious, Publishing Our Future will require a major reversal in our attitudes towards transparency and privacy (and even surveillance and datamining).
Personalization and individualization requires detailed information that one usually might expect to keep private. Actually, the amount of information would increase greatly. The vast majority of this information would not be of use to anyone else – except in situations where persons are matched for collaborative ventures.
During early phases of development, security systems will be needed to protect the system and information for hacking by those outside the movement.

Surveillance and Data Mining
In a strange twist – the fancy systems being established today by established organizations for surveillance and data mining will prove very useful when a majority of the population are participants – and probably much earlier.
Personal, Social, and Societal Responsibility
The focus so far has been one dimensional, looking towards the publication of sems to guide our actions in creating a better future.
The actual behavior of humans in this process will call for major shifts in approaches to personal, social, and societal responsibilities.  Some ideas as how this will transpire will be sketched (not detailed) in the following section: Settings and Improvisational Play.
Publishing Futures of Our Emergence to a Nu Humanity
Our Nu Humanity begins the moment we undertake seafing its emergence – in addition to preparing for its emergence (what we have been doing).
However, there will be light-years of difference between what we do in our early embryonic stages and how we might perform centuries and millennia from now. Yet, practices established early may make the difference for eons to come – so we must chose wisely.
WHO WILL DO THIS?
This query is the topic of another doc.  Some corporation may attempt this, and may succeed in a fashion.  I envision Publishing Our Future as a task for the UPLIFT movement and a tools for the emergent societal butterfly.