The Future Files: A History of the Next 50 Years

by Richard Watson



It may seem strange for us to be promoting the book of another futurist but we believe that highlighting what is happening in the field is good for getting people to a better understanding of what we do. This book starts off in a vein very similar to our thinking, where Richard states in his preface that he is not intending to predict the future and “that anyone who says that they can do this is either a liar or a fool”.  Thinking that futurists are trying to predict the future is one of the main myths we encounter and it is great to see this stated up front in a book about the future. The book is neatly organised into sections from politics, to health and ageing, to retailing, to money and financial services. Richard writes in a very clear fashion and presents a myriad of ideas and possibilities in a very readable and accessible way. It is a great read for anyone wanting to think about what the future might hold. I have two minor criticisms of the book:

    1. Firstly, while Richard states at the back of the book that most of the references come from his trend report, it would have been great to have had the text footnoted and referenced all the way through because there are a lot of facts and figures presented and the reader may well wish to check out the sources.
    2. In my view Richard sometimes confuses some issues. For example, on p84 he states that physical media, such as newspapers and books, has the ability to cut through the clutter of media that we are presented with these days via the internet. This confuses reputation and quality with the delivery method. It is obvious that a quality media outlet such as the New York Times can deliver online content through the internet that will cut through clutter. The excellent writing of Thomas Friedman in the online version is an example of this.

Overall I would recommend reading the book for a great summary of ideas and possibilities for the future. I would just caution you to get professional help when thinking about what you might do about those ideas and possibilities.