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Archive: November 2012

November 29th, 2012 | By Mallory Smith | Posted in Art & Society, Innovation | Comments Off

This is Your Brain on Sleep

‘Travelodge Future of Sleep’ study, carried out by award-winning futurologist Ian Pearson, has investigated the impact of new technology on sleep.

Not getting enough sleep can make you irritable, hysterical, or unable to process information. Todd Maddox, a psychology professor at the Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Texas in Austin says, “The brain regions that are impaired when you are sleep-deprived are the same ones that are impaired with aging.” We all perform better when we’ve had enough sleep. Sleep is restorative. This is because while you are sleeping a number of important processes are going on. One theory is that sleep lets  the brain resets itself, “Sleep may also be important for consolidating new memories, and to allow the brain to ‘forget’ the random, unimportant impressions of the day, so there is room for more learning the next day.” Another theory is that sleep lets you solve problems. At Georgetown University, researchers found that during naps the right hemisphere of the brain was extremely active and busy transmitting information to the inactive left hemisphere of the brain.  The right hemisphere is responsible for creativity  and big-picture thinking, while the left is analytical and skilled at things like language and processing math, so “The new findings suggest that it’s possible naps, by enhancing the creative side of the brain, help us solve problems.”

So sleep is important. How will we regulate and leverage it in the future? We’ve seen futuristic movies like The Fifth Element, or Cloud Atlas, in which machines put a person to sleep for the appropriate amount of time and then wake them up. Will we all be sleeping in special pods?  Apparently by 2030 sleep technology will be able to offer us, among other things, a variety of new services while we sleep: lessons that we learn in our sleep (like language or skill learning), control over our dreams, virtual love making, medical diagnosis, and internal (in our brain) sleep-cycle alarms.  Research has been done on hotels of the future that will supposedly provide the perfect atmosphere for sleep, providing everything from fabrics that produce your favorite scent and tactile experience, to 3D skins you can upload that turn your hotel room into your home. The value of sleep is being discovered as more and more research develops, and it is clear that technology will drastically change the way we sleep in the future.

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November 27th, 2012 | By Mallory Smith | Posted in Art & Society, Environment & Energy, Innovation | Comments Off

Collaboration Innovation

For me 2012 has been a year full of conferences and projects that have all accidentally promoted the same thing: cross-disciplinary, collaborative innovation. Today I learned about something called the Barefoot Tablet, a computer that caters to the 850 million illiterate people in the world who need visually intuitive technology to communicate and grow. This product came from a project developed by Tomorrow Labs, a cross-disciplinary team of design thinkers, makers, researchers and strategists, which helps solve the problems your community is facing.

Watch this introduction to learn a little more about Tomorrow Labs:

Tomorrow Labs from Tomorrow Partners on Vimeo.

Tomorrow Labs is set up in such a way that their cross-disciplinary team helps you and your team go from problem to creative solution to concrete plan with actionable steps. Just by thinking of the issue from several different angles with sustainable and desirable design as the anchor. I’m happy to say that there are other organizations trying to make changes in the world by thinking outside of the box. Tomorrow Labs is just one compelling example.

Read the Tomorrow Labs blog to keep up on the latest project and design breakthroughs at the Lab. Also check out these other cross-collaborative organizations I came across this year:  Hollywood Health & Society, SXSW, hitRECord, the TEN Conference, Shift Labs, and c3. What are some other cross-disciplinary groups out there doing?

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November 26th, 2012 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Cities | Comments Off

Millennial City: How a new generation can save the future, Ch. 9-2

This book, Millennial City is being released first as a serial blog. The book is a collaboration with Dennis Walsh and this blog is Part 2 of Chapter 9. We will publish Millennial City as an e-book when the serialization is completed. The book grew out of conversations that Dennis and I have had about the future of cities, sustainability, and the millennial generation. We think that these three domains, if you will, are coming together to create a new future – and just in time we hope.

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CHAPTER Nine – Part 2
by Dennis Walsh and Glen Hiemstra

There’s a difference between the kind of problems cities are able to solve and the ones that they need to solve. Big cities are good at solving clear complicated problems. They’re not so good at solving ambiguities, like not knowing what they don’t know or rolling dice without knowing what will come up. Ambiguity is even more complicated than complicated problems. You don’t know how many variables there are or even what they count for.

The idea of taking risks is scary but it’s never too late to do little things, to take small chances. There are far too many smart, educated, talented people unsure of their place in the world, contributing far too little to the world. In a world of flux, what succeeds for you may not succeed for me. What succeeds for one city may not work for another. It’s the same for business. Today, business leaders need to be creative and adaptive. Change is driving jobs and work in new directions. Global competition is leading industries to migrate.

Work is no longer as it used to be. There’s no such thing as a ‘lifelong job’ anymore. You probably know that already. Things will be done, and undone, fast. That means big changes ahead for the individual. Future work will become team-based, or may be highly individualized. You’ll have to sell yourself to project leaders.

That’s where the risk comes in. Attitudes about work and jobs will have to substantially change during the decades ahead. You won’t think in terms of earning a day’s wage for a day’s work. You’ll think much more entrepreneurially since you’ll need to market your unique abilities to make a difference in the workplace. Old school people from bureaucratic organizations will be out of date and out of place
tomorrow.

In future, you’ll have more opportunities to do whatever you do, when you want to, where you want to and the way you want to. But there will be a price to pay. You will never stop learning and expanding your skills to prepare for future job demands. Increasing complexity will create greater opportunities for specializing in small segments. Human resources will find better ways than college degrees to measure qualifications. Employee “pools” will match talent with company need while independent contractors and temps will be widely used. We’ve been getting used to this in the past decade but in the future this work style jumps to hyper speed. There’s more. Architects and facilities managers will no longer focus on creating and managing space. They will be much more like work enablers or facilitators. Space will be designed to support specific types of work.

One more thought on globalization: It’s more than just business – it is about culture and people. So, you’ll need cultural intelligence to help you achieve success as work becomes more and more global. That will mean reinventing yourself to master the fundamentals of intercultural interaction and communication. Start traveling now if you are a student. See the world. Live in it. Aside from that hurdle, your biggest challenge will be enjoying work and celebrating life at the same time. The boundaries between professional and personal lives will continue to blur.

Life is complicated enough. It’s tough to live in a world full of ambiguity, not knowing what you do not know. Hopefully this book will give you the courage to roll the dice without knowing what will come up. No matter how you cut it, change is driving jobs and work in new directions. You’ll have to change the way you think and even experiment a little though you may not know how the dice will roll. The idea of taking those kinds of risks is scary. In a world of flux, what succeeds for you may not succeed for me. So, if you’re really going to shine, you’ll need to be creative and adapt on the fly.
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[Glen Hiemstra is the Founder of Futurist.com, and curator of Dothefuture.com. Dennis Walsh is a sustainability futurist from Canada best known for his work as the first publisher of green@work. Contact us through futurist.com]

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November 25th, 2012 | By Mallory Smith | Posted in Art & Society, Business & Economy, Environment & Energy | Comments Off

Living Without Technology

What if, in some post-apocalyptic world, technology is lost or corrupted and we have to live without it? Here are 10 things you should know how to do without technology:

1) Basic self-defense.

Stay in shape. Lifehacker tells you all the most detrimental places to hit a person and gives demonstrations on some basic self-defense moves that everyone should know. Watch videos on the best ways to maximize damage: Leverage your weight, use everyday objects, and use your elbows, knees, and head. And as always, heed these special instructions in case of a zombie apocalypse.

2) Tend to wounds.

Check out the best ways to dress a wound and learn how to perform CPR on various types of people.

3) Make fire.

According to the U.S. Army Survival Manual, a fire can provide both physical and psychological comfort and security.” Besides the obvious uses of fire: warmth that prevents cold-related injuries, cooking, and signaling rescuers; fire can also purify water, sterilize bandages, and make tools and weapons.

Read about 7 different ways to start a fire here or watch Bear Grylls make a fire with friction.

6) Find Shelter.

This could mean learning to make a lean-to that protects you from the elements, or finding a hat that shelters your face from the sun.

5) Identify edible materials in nature.

Find out which plants, bugs, and mushrooms you can eat without harming yourself.

6) Stay safe during natural disasters.

Learn what to do in case of a hurricane, tornado, lightning storm, forest fire, flood, blizzard, earthquake and in an ocean wave.

7) Find clean drinking water.

Learn what to look for in clean drinking water and what to expect in certain areas.

8) Learn to cook.

In case of emergencies it’s always good to know less conventional cooking methods like rock oven baking and pit cooking.

9) Signal for a rescue.

From fire to shiny objects to Morse code. This list gives you every method of signaling for help you could ever think of.

10) Build weapons.

Watch this series of videos on how to make primitive weapons, like spears.

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November 24th, 2012 | By Glen Hiemstra | Posted in Cities | Comments Off

Millennial City: How a new generation can save the future, Ch. 9-1

This book, Millennial City is being released first as a serial blog. The book is a collaboration with Dennis Walsh and this blog is Part 1 of Chapter 9. We will publish Millennial City as an e-book when the serialization is completed. The book grew out of conversations that Dennis and I have had about the future of cities, sustainability, and the millennial generation. We think that these three domains, if you will, are coming together to create a new future – and just in time we hope.

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CHAPTER Nine – Part 1
by Dennis Walsh and Glen Hiemstra

When it comes to building, just like our lives, cities are built brick by brick. Some days are worse than others. Some days we don’t do a whole lot of building. That’s when you ask yourself, Why? Why is it that sometimes plans just don’t seem to come together very well. And yet, here we are telling you, without a doubt, things are going to get a whole lot better.

Don’t listen to those negative news reports. There’s a new sound in the air. Something good is coming. You have a purpose and a destiny to make a difference in the world. That’s radical. That’s extreme. But radical gets results.

If cities are going to compete with one another, it will take money and talent: your talent. There is a war for talent going on in every major city around the world. Today, the average age in China and India is mid-twenties. Many African nations are even younger and despite their desperate situations eager to join the global economy. We are a reflection of the globe. The earth’s population is growing younger (while it is also growing much older), and they desperately need leadership. There are 67 countries where a “youth bulge” exists. (That is, populations where more than 30% are young adults or kids.) 60 of those countries are presently in civil war or are experiencing mass killings. Of the 27 biggest “youth bulge” nations, 13 are Muslim. Those kids will find expression, one way or another.

Global organizations think in terms of the physical locations that will be the most competitive and cost-effective. Some of the fastest growing cities are producing highly skilled workers, increasing the attractiveness of relocation. Talent attracts capital far more than capital attracts talent. More people and jobs create wealth for cities. The best economic development strategy may be to attract smart people and get out of their way. Cities at the top must find new ways to meet the future demands of a talent-driven market. There is a constant struggle to retain local management talent in emerging markets. Global business models need really good people to be able to manage around that complexity.

The high demand for the limited number of internationally capable local talent leads to a high turnover rate as they are lured away by competitors. The consequence is a growing turnover rate. The very best companies are obsessed with talent. They recruit endlessly. Entire industries like social media, gaming, and oil/minerals are in on the war. New hires are getting extreme signing bonuses. It’s not so much a problem too few people available. The war for talent is a skills shortage, not a people shortage. For the first time in history, governments and businesses are working together to remove some of the barriers to mobility around the world. But it’s not all happening beyond North America. Its happening in our backyard.

Until recently, “competitiveness” was outside a mayor’s domain. The factors defining it were decided at the national level. But today with businesses formulating growth strategies around urban markets, cities cannot afford to leave their futures to national governments. Denver, the Mile High City, has made itself attractive to mobile young talent. Graduates are flocking to Brooklyn. It’s where some of the most exciting things in the world are happening and being cool counts. This is your opportunity.

The demographic shift from the baby boom generation and GenX to the Millennials can be either frightening or exhilarating but it can’t be ignored. The implications are profound. Remember what we said about the 1960s. The word revolution catches the spirit of what lies ahead. The biggest threat arrives in the coming decades when many organizations may face operational discontinuity because they cannot transfer knowledge to a stable workforce. Companies have a choice. They can let change happen to them, or they can take a sustainable approach and manage change by designing engaging work experiences.

Ask and you will receive. By weight of numbers, your generation will have a big say in how companies, workplaces, organizations work: flexible work routine, autonomy, opportunity to experiment and explore. In five years, almost half of US workers will work virtually at least some of the time. This will change everything. Workspaces will be social, mobile, visual and offer a wealth of opportunities your chosen field. It doesn’t get any better than that.
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[Glen Hiemstra is the Founder of Futurist.com, and curator of Dothefuture.com. Dennis Walsh is a sustainability futurist from Canada best known for his work as the first publisher of green@work. Contact us through futurist.com]

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