In my research, I tend to focus more on the present than on the future. After all, I’m a sociologist, not a futurist. However, the present can tell us a lot about the future: our plans today indicate the future we are anticipating; our dreams today describe the future we are hoping for; our actions today contribute to creating the future that will be.
I’m not only a sociologist, but also a Internet researcher. The annual conference of AoIR (the Association of Internet Researchers), which has taken place during the past days and revived me to a point I am not able to put in words yet, was a stark reminder of that.
As society is, increasingly, also digital, so is our focus on digital futures: the ones we fear, the ones we create, and the ones we desire.
Following the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in 2020, the OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation has created a global initiative called Government After Shock, inviting a global conversation on what we can learn from the COVID-19 crisis, what we want to keep, what we want to leave behind, and what we want do differently. The Bern University of Applied Sciences, together with Flux Compass (Hong Kong), contribute to #GovAfterShock with a workshop on the topic of Trust across borders.
The workshop on Nov 11, 2020, will invite us to stop and think about what we can learn from the COVID-19 crisis, and how we want to go forward with respect to our digital future. Its goal is to co-create a message to governments on the future we desire.
Organized and hosted by Angelina Dungga and Anna Simpson, the event includes two keynote inputs, one by Séverine Arsène and one by yours truly. I’m really excited about Dr. Arsène’s talk, because she will propose three directions for reflection, around concepts of scope, pace, and method: How much of our futures do we want to be digital? How fast, or slow, do we need to move towards our digital futures? And what kind of democratic procedures will ensure that we get the digital futures that we want?
In my own talk, I will present existing phenomena to show that people express their values and preferences in many ways. As I have already stated for this article on the Forum for the Future: To include civil society in policy-making also means actively accounting for the values and preferences of people whose voice may not usually be heard. I will therefore present some examples of what can we learn from today about a future that is desirable for civil society.
Because the future is, supposedly, already here, just not evenly distributed.