Cities are the places where people come together, live, love, work and play. Human connection is one of the most critical components of day-to-day life. Much of the world quickly learned how to connect with one another and access services in virtual environments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we lacked the ideal tools for connecting in this way. Zoom meetings, Google Chat and good old fashioned phone calls provide a poor simulation of the physical world. What if a true simulation of our physical world could be recreated in a virtual manner? What value would this bring to people’s lives, what challenges would it present, and would it ultimately prove to be a net positive for cities?
With more companies adopting hybrid work, New York City’s economy, which relies on commuters and full office buildings, faces an uncertain future.https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/11/nyregion/remote-work-hybrid-manhattan.html
And yet for all his success Gerrard feels that the art world has mostly turned its back on digital work like his, in favor of the paintings that dominate an ever more conservative and analog scene. The popularity of NFTs might lead to something like a new gallery neighborhood, the equivalent of Chelsea or TriBeCa in New York — except that it would be virtual, a marketplace for the most fascinating of digital files instead of brilliant objects.https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/03/arts/design/nft-art-beeple.html
And not fully understanding the difference between a virtual world and real life can have darker consequences as well. Graber says that playing a game in which you’re attacked with a gun or knife can feel more intense to a child than an adult. And metaverse worlds could expose children to bullies or even pedophiles in new, scary ways.https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/family/2022/02/what-the-metaverse-might-mean-for-kids
Why are tech-centric, projection-based exhibits suddenly everywhere?
Photograph © teamLab / Courtesy Pace Gallery
“Crows Are Chased and the Chasing Crows Are Destined to Be Chased As Well, Transcending Space,” a piece in teamLab’s exhibition “Continuity,” at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.
To begin seeing change, heed the externalities
The practice of foresight has always believed in the critical nature of the past. In fact, we believe knowing the past is imperative to see the future that might await us. Our usual approach is to start with a classic PESTLE (political, economic, sociological, technological, legal and environmental) analysis to see the externalities in play. We do this through a semiotic lens. We are looking for signs so that we can speculate about design futures.
Consider the 1980s as an example. On the surface, 2022 seems like a replay of 1982. So many happenings from fashion to pharma feel like déjà vu — whether you lived through the ’80s or not. Yet, there are fundamental shifts from 1982 that can only be understood by looking at the years side by side.
In 1994, the Newsweek staff critiqued its earlier decade. They wrote, “The market magic of the triumphant conservatism of the 1980s did help squeeze out fat and make American business more competitive in the brutal global economy. But we have yet to come to terms with the social costs.”
Unfortunately, in 2022, we still have yet to come to terms with the social costs of the ‘80s – but we are finally making headway. The aspirational “trader” archetype spawned in ‘82 by the Baby Boomers and portrayed in movies like Wall Street has given way to a socially aware archetype within Generation Z. A disruptive layer of behavior has pushed in through Gen Z and bolstered by Gen X, the generation once thought of as slacker. Critical policy thinking is coming to the forefront as a layer of fear fades away.
The information presented in this report shows that 2022 is not on the same trend trajectory as 1982. Too many cultural tensions exist for that to happen. However, to have confidence in this cultural evolution, we need to respect even the smallest signals of change.