Forecasting not predicting
I like Paul Saffo's take on forecasting:
I'm a forecaster, which means I'm not a futurist and I do not predict. My job is to map a "cone of uncertainty" that spreads out from the present at any given moment of time or any given topic, and say what lies within it. The reason why it's forecasting and not predicting is predicting assumes a deterministic universe. God has a plan that's all written out, all you can do is get an advance peek at the plan. But why bother peeking since you can't change it? Forecasting assumes that the cone of uncertainty is also the cone of possibility, that by thinking logically about what likely outcomes might be, one can influence those outcomes for better or worse. And so our job is mapping that uncertainty to help people understand what is possible.
In addition I also agree with his statement about innovation and technology:
It's my belief that technology does not drive change. Technology merely enables changes. It creates options and opportunities that as individuals and as communities and as entire cultures we choose to exploit. And it's our response to the technologies that drive change. In other words, first we invent our technologies and then we use our technologies to reinvent ourselves...our families, our societies, and our entire cultures.
Why do I blog this? I think Saffo is one of the best person to explain forecasting-related discussions; the fact that he is straight to the point and that he has good/relevant examples is great.