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The Signals Are Talking: Why Today's Fringe Is Tomorrow's Mainstream
     

The Signals Are Talking: Why Today's Fringe Is Tomorrow's Mainstream

by Amy Webb
 

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Winner of the 2017 Axiom Business Book Award in Business Technology

Amy Webb is a noted futurist who combines curiosity, skepticism, colorful storytelling, and deeply reported, real-world analysis in this essential book for understanding the future. The Signals Are Talking reveals a systemic way of evaluating new ideas bubbling up on the

Overview


Winner of the 2017 Axiom Business Book Award in Business Technology

Amy Webb is a noted futurist who combines curiosity, skepticism, colorful storytelling, and deeply reported, real-world analysis in this essential book for understanding the future. The Signals Are Talking reveals a systemic way of evaluating new ideas bubbling up on the horizon-distinguishing what is a real trend from the merely trendy. This book helps us hear which signals are talking sense, and which are simply nonsense, so that we might know today what developments-especially those seemingly random ideas at the fringe as they converge and begin to move toward the mainstream-that have long-term consequence for tomorrow.

With the methodology developed in The Signals Are Talking, we learn how to think like a futurist and answer vitally important questions: How will a technology-like artificial intelligence, machine learning, self-driving cars, biohacking, bots, and the Internet of Things-affect us personally? How will it impact our businesses and workplaces? How will it eventually change the way we live, work, play, and think-and how should we prepare for it now?

Most importantly, Webb persuasively shows that the future isn't something that happens to us passively. Instead, she allows us to see ahead so that we may forecast what's to come-challenging us to create our own preferred futures.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/17/2016
Trends can be profitably predicted, according to this windy treatise on business futurism. Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute consultancy, insists that prognosticating is a “learnable skill” and lays out a labyrinthine, acronym-heavy conceptual framework for pondering the future, featuring three rules, six instructions, 10 “sources of change,” a six-part “CIPHER model,”and a six-part “F.U.T.U.R.E test” to “pressure-test any strategy created to address a technology trend.” It all amounts to a tangle of vague truisms—rule one says, “The future is not predetermined, but rather woven together from numerous threads that are themselves being woven in the present”—that leave the impression that futurology is still a dark art navigable only by hiring experts such as the author. Webb’s own predictions are sometimes bizarre—she asserts that drones will make America dependent on imported food and that “pods” hooked to maglev trains will replace airplanes—but when she’s predicting trends in digital technology, which is most of the time, the future sounds both grandiose and boring. (Google, she reports, is “creating a ubiquitous exo-brain... that could anticipate my every need” and will eventually become “some kind of digital life assistant.”) Webb’s futurism is not compelling, but her insightful retrospectives on why some innovations succeeded and others failed make for an engaging study of technical trends of the past. (Dec.)
From the Publisher

“The clear, insightful, and humorous Amy Webb has crafted a rare treasure: a substantive guide written in a narrative that's a delight to read. While most futurologists want guru status through a few Nostradamus-like visions that never materialize, Webb modestly reports with depth and discipline, and creates a system and tools we can all use to better navigate the future. Through her deep research, specific anecdotes, and brilliant insights, she has performed the selfless but hugely valuable act of teaching us all to fish at the fringe.” —Christopher J. Graves, chairman, Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide

“Amy Webb, with insight and a big dose of pragmatism, shows how to clearly see the next big disruption and then take action before it strikes.” —Ram Charan, advisor to CEOs and corporate boards, author of The Attackers Advantage, and coauthor of Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done

“Forecasting the future is a challenging—and absolutely necessary—part of every leader's job. In this ambitious and timely book, Amy Webb shows not only how to identify actual trends and surprises emerging from the fringes but—even more important—how to do something about them so you can thrive in the face of the unexpected.”—Craig Newmark, founder,Craigslist

Kirkus Reviews
2016-09-19
How to forecast emerging technological tends.Dont confuse the trendy with trends, warns Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute. Unlike hip, shiny objects, trends persist and can change everything. They include self-driving cars, artificial intelligence, and other phenomena that will deeply affect our lives. Too often, writes the author, leaders ignore the signals [of emerging trends], wait too long to take action, or plan for only one scenario. In this useful guide, she offers a systematic way to interpret events and foresee how they will shape the future. In brief: watch fringe areas, where new ideas emerge; uncover hidden patterns; determine whether a pattern is a trend; calculate its arrival time; plan scenarios to act on the trend; test your scenarios. Her detailed explanation of these simple-seeming steps is based on many years of experience advising organizations and will undoubtedly help leaders contemplate what lies ahead. The author makes clear how difficult it is to recognize forthcoming changes in an era when change is commonplace. Also, we tend to underplay the significance of something when it is not significant to our immediate frame of reference. Companies like Nintendo have listened to the signals, adapted to change, and lasted since the late 1800s. Digital Equipment Corporation, once a leading vendor of computer systems, failed to anticipate personal computing, with disastrous results. Similarly, BlackBerry failed, its products eclipsed by new trends. Webbs stories of these companies and her close examination of current trendiness help readers understand how certain fringe thinking is shaped by diverse external forces (wealth distribution, education, government, etc.) into genuine trends. We know Uber represents a trend because it leverages our basic human needs and desires in a meaningful way and aligns our human nature with emerging technologies and breakthrough inventions, she writes. Webb provides a logical way to sift through todays onslaught of events and information to spot coming changes in your corner of the world.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781610396660
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
12/06/2016
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
103,396
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author

Amy Webb is an author, futurist and founder of the Future Today Institute, a leading future forecasting and strategy firm that researches technology and answers "What's the future of X?" for a global client base. Her future forecasting work has been featured in the New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Fast Company and more. Her research has also been cited in several academic papers. She is a lecturer on the future of media at Columbia University, and this fall, she will join NYU's Stern School of Business as an adjunct professor to teach a new course on forecasting the future of technology. She was a 2014-15 Visiting Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. She founded Webbmedia Group (FTI's predecessor); co-founded Knowledgewebb Training, which facilitates hands-on workshops; and co-founded Spark Camp, a next-generation convener that facilitates important conversations on the future of a better society. Data is being adapted as a feature film, which is currently in production. Her previous book Data, a Love Story is being adapted as a feature film, which is currently in production.

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