Book Futurist, or Book Forecaster?

"Crystal Ball take #3" by Isobel T via Flickr; see below for license info.Short post. I just want to clarify something about the terminology of this blog. Must of my dissertation focuses on the rhetoric employed by humanities scholars (mostly english, rhetoric, composition, and bibliography nerds) when they write about both the history and future of “the book.” But there’s really no consensus about how to refer to someone who engages in this sort of rhetoric. So I’m going to go with Futurist. Book Futurist.

I’ve been reading an interview with Paul Saffo (in Bill Moggridge’s Desiging Media book), and he makes the distinction between a forecaster (one who merely tries to predict) and a futurist (one who advocates for a particular outcome). I think both terms are really useful. Part of this blog’s work is to figure out how those two terms overlap and how they are distinct from each other. As a forecaster, I hope to be able to look critically at possible futures for the book, and get a better sense for the sorts of factors favoring one outcome over another. As a futurist, I hope to advocate for those possible futures I think would be most advantageous for the communities and projects with which I align myself.

So there you have it. Sometimes book forecaster. Sometimes book futurist. Sometimes both.


Crystal Ball take #3″ by Isobel T via Flickr; see below for license info.

This article has 1 Comment

  1. I teach at the University of Houston’s Futures Studies Program. Paul is in our Board of Director and a good friend, but I think his distinction between forecaster and futurists is off the mark. As a rule, futurists do not advocate for any particular outcome. When futurist do advocate, we call it a normative forecast, and I suppose you could call someone who advocates all the time a normative futurist. But that is pretty rare.

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