Friday Futures 1.1: Everything is changing


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Welcome to the first, weekly round up of what’s happening in the Policy Futures world.

This week I’ve been enjoying getting to grips with Tim O’Reilly’s WTF?, which blends a personal journey & the history of tech transformation with an approach to what might be possible in the futures of communications, government, employment & more.

There’s a lot of content here for those looking for insight into the thinking that has made the likes of Amazon, Uber and Google so successful in adapting to changing environments. What makes it different to many of the boosterist Silicon Valley texts is O’Reilly’s thinking on futures, trends & civic ambitions as to how “we make the choices today that will result in a world we want to live in”. The chapter on government as a platform, & the implications of changes in citizen expectations used to Amazon levels of service, is especially strong.

In parallel, this week I’ve also received a copy of “The New Localism”, by Bruce Katz and Jeremy Novak. I’ve only read the first 50 pages or so thus far, but in setting out their contention that cities and localities are now the loci for innovative, experimental & collaborative approaches to economic & social issues, the authors’ largely US focus has clear implications for the UK.  “Defined by pragmatism”, New Localism in this setting can be read as an argument for the continuing evolution of Elected Mayors and Combined Authorities currently seen in some of our city regions.

Both books have a common theme – everything is changing. This is fast becoming a cliché, but to paraphrase David Foster Wallace “clichés earn their status as clichés because they’re so obviously true”.  I’ll be reviewing each text in more depth in the next few weeks, with a particular focus on how they relate to public services & O’Reilly’s point that “each and every industry and organization will have to transform itself in the next few years, in multiple ways, or fade away”.  If you have any comments or suggestions, please get in touch.

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