As I’ve continued on a futures learning journey, I’ve noted a great deal of new vocabulary springing up. Think back – there was a time when the term “social media” was really cutting edge. It is not clear which of these terms will “stick” and evolve into powerful forces, but it is clear that they are all in circulation and connected to trends associated with a futures lens. I’ll be producing these lists periodically when I gather enough to make an interesting list. Where possible, I’ll always insert a link or two to provide context/background. Please note that most of these resources are not organized or written by social workers. My point in sharing them is these tend to be terms that people are talking about but ARE NOT generally in high circulation formally in social work circles. Yet these terms represent areas of civic, cultural or scientific relevance that will impact vulnerable people and/or our profession (in either positive or negative ways – or sometimes a combination of the two). I believe we need to be discovering, talking about, and contributing to the discourse around these (and other) emerging issues related to the future. This is an “in process” and ever evolving exercise. If you have any futures terms you think might be of interest to social workers – please send them my way at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to include them in future lists.
Algorhithmic racism . Increasing attention being paid to the embedded “built in” bias inherent in the digital world.
Computational propoganda. A term and phenomenon that encompasses recent digital misinformation and manipulation efforts. It is best defined as the use of algorithms, automation, and human curation to purposefully distribute misleading information over social media networks (Woolley & Howard, 2016).
Fourth Industrial Revolution – what comes after the first industrial revolution (water and steam power), second (electric power), third (electronics and and information technology) – leads to the fourth which is the “fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres,” Schwaub, 2016.
Internet of things the interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.
Managed retreat (climate change) – pre-emptively moving away from areas considered high risk from a climate change perspective (most recently – areas likely to flood due to sea level change).
Meme-iverse – official definition not found, but heard at a recent conference of futures practitioners. Refers to the overall zeitgeist of favorite and/or high circulation memes and/or realizing the power memes are having to create culture shifts, e.g. “the meme-iverse shows that folks are interested in XYZ.”