In 1990-1991, the Association of American Publishers co-sponsored a series of public workshops on Mapping the Future of Publishing that I conducted with my then colleagues at NCRI. Later on, I morphed these public workshops into Mapping the Future of Information Commerce. After I departed NCRI at the end of 1995 my former colleagues ran additional installments of the Information Commerce workshop in 1997. Thanks to the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive, the report is available on the net here.
I thought that it might be a very interesting and possibly useful exercise to return to those days of yesteryear and see what knowledgeable industry participants thought about the future of the information industry and with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight compare their thinking to what actually happened and where we are now.
The Future of Information Commerce workshops used a highly interactive scenario planning process that in these pages is called Scenario Mapping. In addition to the discussion in the report itself, an overview of the Scenario Mapping methodology can be found in this presentation.
In brief, a Scenario Mapping workshop combines "simulated hindsight" with a highly prepared meeting to leverage the collective intelligence of workshop participants. By simulated hindsight I mean that we assume the future is now and ask how the world got to be this way: what were the key milestones, actors, motives, drivers, etc. that led to this world rather than some other.
By highly prepared meeting, I mean that the facilitators in conjunction with workshop sponsors prepare several coherent descriptions of future outcomes or Endstates and a set of hypothetical Events. Each Event has a headline, date, and brief description.
In this series of blogicles, I'll provide snapshots of the Endstates used in the 1997 Information Commerce workshop, summaries of the deliberations, and report on how participants voted on the Endstates and Events. I'll also focus on the "compares and contrasts" with the present.