The future of future-gazing

Those who claim to see the future are often accorded high status in their communities, at least judging by the amount of money we are ready to throw at them. Whether the preferred methodology is extrapolation from the past, reading palms, counting crows on the wing, or picking over the entrails of a sacrificed goat, all require some observational acumen.

Which is why Downtime was surprised and delighted to receive from the IT industry’s bone-thrower-in-chief, Gartner, the news that “enterprises must anticipate how societal trends will impact their business and customers”. Slowness to respond could drive them out of business, it wailed.

It said websites and tools such as FriendFeed, Twitter, Ryze and Orkut “form an increasing proportion of the trusted information sources that individuals use to make decisions.” So, not Gartner, then.