The future is curation, says Sally Uren

23rd July, 2014 by Sally Uren

We now have an unprecedented capacity to bring people together and enable them to act – but we need skilled curators to help them see the big picture, says the CEO of Forum for the Future.

There is no shortage of data, from an amazing variety of sources, telling us in no uncertain terms that we are in a perilous state, both environmentally and socially. Yet where is the equivalent magnitude of action? Strangely absent.

Pioneers in civil society, governments around the world and some businesses are definitely ‘doing their bit’, but there are still too few making real progress to add up to real change. Why? Vested interests, lack of the right policies, market failures: pretty big reasons.

However, I think there’s another reason. We’ve become overwhelmed by data. There are megabytes of the stuff every time we switch on our phones, our laptops, our tablets. But it isn’t compelling us to do anything differently. Well, not really.

Which is where curation comes in. Instead of just dumping data on our laps, we need skilled curators to dive deeper into the high seas of information, handpick some pearls, help us see them in a complex context, and use these insights to spark interesting conversations. This way, we can begin to explore what to do differently.

The interactive nature of the web means we now have an unprecedented capacity to bring people together across sectors and geographies to discuss and, critically, to act on curated content.

And so, after 18 years of publishing Green Futures as a quarterly print magazine, we are making a change. This magazine was born from a desire to inspire people, through stories of innovation and visions of the future, to create a wave of change In many ways, it has been successful.

Now, we want to help people not just to imagine a sustainable future but to create it.

We are building a new digital platform which will be the interface between a sustainable future and the people who can build it. The content of Green Futures will form the central nervous system of this platform, where we’ll spot connections between signals of the emerging future, and place them in the context of wider patterns of change. Crucially, we will offer a vibrant, interactive space for debate around the most pressing issues of tomorrow, leading to that overwhelming question, ‘What is it we can do?’

The most valuable insights, difficult questions and inspiring stories to come out of these conversations will be brought together in an annual Green Futures Compendium: a collector’s item to both treasure and depend upon. You can look forward to the first edition next January. Change is never easy, but we all have to navigate it. We are offering you a compass.

Sally Uren is CEO, Forum for the Future.
@sallyuren

Photo credit: Nick Woodford

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