Crossing the Digital Divide…A Bridge Too Far?

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown in stark detail the digital divide that still exists in the United States. Bridging that divide will require fundamental changes in how American society operates. The question is whether the United States will be adapt social and economic structures enough to build that bridge.

When COVID-19 forced students out of schools, colleges, and universities, students I taught this semester scattered across multiple states and even overseas, to both rural areas and the heart of major metropolitan centers like New York City.

In both rural upstate New York and…

In the sea of words about the protests and civil unrest in the United States, the silence of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 21 seconds of silence has drawn international attention, fleeting though it will be.

In response to a reporter’s question, Trudeau stood silent, clearly grappling with how he would respond while cameras recorded him.

Trudeau’s response has been both praised and panned. I think I come down on the praise side. I watched the clip several times to get a sense of what was really happening.

Most of the condemnation of Trudeau comes from those who wanted him to…

Foresight professionals have an opportunity in the midst of this pandemic. I’ve seen a lot of talk about broad visions and scenarios and futures after COVID-19. That’s fine, but we could do more.

The skills and knowledge needed to do scenario are basic to most foresight professionals, but those skills are generally unknown or poorly understood in by the public and even among organizational leaders.

I’ve been doing scenarios as a professional for more than 25 years for clients like General Motors, Honda, NASA, Hersey, and many other large organizations. …

Image: Marco Verch (Flickr)

As the death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic started to decline, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York managed to ignite controversy with the announcement of a blue-ribbon commission to “reimagine” New York state. That re-imagining includes a significant emphasis on integrating technology into many aspects of our lives. A key element of that initiative is building a “smarter education system.”

To help lead that effort, Cuomo welcomed on board former CEO Eric Schmidt. A day earlier, he had announced a similar partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

That was the cue for a major freak out from multiple…

Image by Peter von Stackelberg

I’m familiar with pandemics as a scenario. As a futurist, I’ve talked and written and speculated about them as a wildcard since at least 1991, when I was a graduate student in Studies of the Future at the University of Houston — Clear Lake.

Wildcards are defined in the futures field as “low probability but high impact events”. Given our current situation, it should be clear by now that low probability doesn’t mean no probability.

It frustrates me, and I’m sure a lot of my colleagues in the futures field, that we have had a pandemic scenario as a standard…

To truly understand the future, we need to see it, not just be told about it. (Image by Peter von Stackelberg)

We have a generation of young people calling for change. They are worried about their futures, and the future of planet Earth. They know something is wrong, seriously wrong. Yet visions of the future are unclear, blurred by competing visions and divisive politics and as a society we seem to be paralyzed.

As a professional futurist for well over 25 years, it has been a continuing source of frustration that excellent futures work — scenarios, forecasts, and so on — is so often ignored or misunderstood. I’ve seen well documented, insightful reports about the future shelved. …

Peter von Stackelberg

Peter von Stackelberg is an award winning investigative journalist, professional futurist, transmedia storyteller and worldbuilder, and university lecturer.

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