It is important to state explicitly that WFW? has a clearly defined aim - we have a specific purpose of developing a vision for the future, strategy for creating it, and research agenda to inform both. It is equally more focused than a traditional blog and more engaging than a wiki. This is not an academic exercise, it is the most effective approach to executing a clearly defined mission. See our Theory of Impact for the deeper 'why' of the project.
In time, I will enable community participation beyond the comment section and feedback form to better execute our mission. This will feel different to an online forum. I hope it will feel more like a distributed organization - an organized collective of individuals working toward a common goal, each contributing what they are able and best placed to do so. Read more on the vision for WFW? below.
A note on the name
We define 'world' in its most general sense - the whole of reality - rather than as an equivalent to 'planet earth'. For this project to be successful, we must be unconstrained and welcome any idea, even if the vast majority will not make it to our future vision or strategy. I want to be clear that the future of 'reality' may not be bound - or even involve - planet earth.
Despite learning from the past and driving to action in the present, we are primarily concerned with our future reality. There are many brilliant minds focused on better understanding our present world - this project is born from the belief that too few are focused on our future reality.
The 'what?' framing intends to instill a sense of hope from the very start - that this is a question that we can, and fully intend to, answer. Why not 'which'? Again, this comes down to our principle of being unconstrained. 'Which?' would suggest a finite set of future worlds we may choose between. In designing and defining an ideal future we are in one sense selecting from an infinite set of possible futures, meaning the 'what?' framing is grammatically correct. What Future World?
At first, it will be a source of thought-provoking content directed by this objective. There are three streams of content, each released on a weekly cadence:
"What Future Thoughts"
An original essay contributing either to the future vision or the execution strategy. How they contribute will vary. I plan to translate the leading ideas in philosophy, politics, technology, design, and a number of other fields into both an accessible form and a format congruent with our desired outcome. Equally, I plan to introduce novel ideas in any of these fields, in part to push our collective thinking but also in a hope that it may prompt deeper research. In time, I am curious to experiment with writing fiction as a means to share these ideas with the greatest possible audience. As the community grows, I will likely invite guests posters through this channel. Every Wednesday.
An essay reflecting on a piece of content that itself paints a picture of an ideal future world, be that a book (fiction or non-fiction), movie, article, presentation, or museum exhibition. There's almost no limit - if it provides inspiration, it could be "reflected on". It will be a reflection rather than a critique; it will 80% develop and evolve the ideas presented and 20% critique them. I will lean as much as possible towards popular content, anything more involved will be saved for "What Future Thoughts". Every Friday.
"The ideal future of..."
An interview with a leading thinker whose work can inform our goal - they imagine an ideal future state and may also have theorized a strategy to achieve it. These could be authors, other thought-leaders, investors, start-up founders, politicians, academics, and researchers. There will be an intentionally broad set of guests, who may possess wildly differing views on the future. In line with our principles, my role as the interviewer will be to foster their vision but also to critically challenge them in areas where their vision encroaches on that of another. Launching Jan 2nd 2023, then every Monday.
To achieve as broad a reach as possible, each piece of content will be produced in video (YouTube), audio (Podcast), and text (Blog). My hope is for all of this content to be free - as will initially be the case. This will rely on donations and/or grants as my primary form of financing. I am unsure of the sustainability of this model so will be experimenting with the economics and business model as much as the form and organization.
Vision for WFW?
In time, I will enable content creation and sharing for all members of the community, and transform WFW? from a one-way blog with a thriving comments section into a truly distributed organization and community of ideas. We will simply not achieve our mission as fast if I am the only one truly free to contribute novel ideas.
I am not starting with community posting for a few reasons. I believe that the structure I am providing will prove very valuable and will take time to set. For example, you wouldn't know what we were organizing around if I hadn't spent the time setting out the Theory of Impact. Similarly the format, culture, and operating model of the organization need to 'set'. Second, I have a clear vision for the technical platform for WFW?, and I didn't want to postpone creating value until this is built. Third, I want to test more hypotheses before settling on an operating model. I need to confirm that enough people believe in and sufficiently care about the mission of WFW?. I need to confirm that people like my writing. The scale of the problem requires us to build a large and high-functioning team. Please be patient with me.
I mentioned a "distributed organization" in the introduction... that sounds a lot like work! To which I say...yes and no. Yes in the sense that our mission is extremely important and requires organization to achieve. No, in that this will be a passion project for the vast majority of contributors. Yes, again, in the sense that I hope to compensate everyone to the extent they provide value and move us closer to our mission. In short, I am encouraged by the innovative collective ownership models that will be made possible by blockchain technology and believe we can build an organization that rewards everyone in relation to the value they contribute, skewing early to reward those who get the community off the ground and the flywheel spinning. In this way and many others, there will be experimentation. It's a central principle of WFW? to test and learn. It's an important, future-proofing capability for all of society to be comfortable with this level of change so I don't feel bad using WFW? as a testing ground... with community input of course.
One example is that I see a need for greater organization of the community as a whole. While the early work of WFW? will focus on growing the community, by building interest in those not currently strongly aligned with the mission or problem, in time I believe it will prove fruitful to organize the entire community within a single structure. For example, finding and organizing the existing knowledge and research in these fields is a difficult task - I know, I have spent the last two months on the endeavor. This field is moving from start-up to scale-up and therefore needs the infrastructure and community governance to maximize our productivity avoid the 'unilateralists curse'. We need to be a shared intelligence ourselves if we are going to safely build and govern one.
Please share your thoughts if you have any feedback on What Future World? or the vision for the community.