2020 & Beyond: Mapping the future

What does the Future hold for us – in technology, in finance, in education, at work and play and in our relationships – with our fellow beings, with digital entities? The tryst with 2020 is on everyone’s mind. From companies to teams to speculators of tomorrow – the date provides a fascinating milestone to wind our roads and wrap our roadmaps around.

Here are a 3 interesting vizualizations of the Future that look at 2020 and beyond.

1. The Future of Emerging Technology
Created by Michell Zappa’s Envisioning Technology, this large chart looks at the timeline from now (they have a 2011 and 2012 version) until around 2040. From Space Tourism to Optical Invisibility Cloaks and Weather Engineering – there is a place (and time) for all the techno-fantasies to move into the realm of reality in this beautifully crafted map. A high-res PDF map is available on the Envisioning Technology site for download.

2. Trends & Technology Timeline of the ‘Next 50 Years’
Richard Watson is a futurist, trend-watcher and the author of 2 books - Future Files,Future Minds and the custodian of the What’s Next website. Future Files is a fascinating and entertaining read and also features a number of Watson’s timelines – including The Innovation Timeline and The Extinction Timeline. These are also available online in the What’s Next site with a number of fairly regular revisions and updates. The “hugely popular” Trends and Technology Timeline from 2010 and beyond features trends around everything from Ageism and Anxiety to Individualism and Power-Shift-East. Modelled on the iconic London Tube Map, the key lines are representative of a trend. Worth a download and a closer look.


3. The Future of EducationTechnology
Another collaborative and well crafted piece from Michell Zappa’s Envisioning Technology and TFE, the Future of Education Technology looks at interconnected trends playing out beyond the 2020 mark. As Micahel Zappa notes: “Models of teaching worldwide are being revolutionized and reconsidered in real-time, and it seems everybody is looking for the holy grail of how to future-proof their classrooms.” In addition to identifying underlying technological changes, the study maps “six key trends that link and contextualize said technologies, including classroom digitization, gamification and disintermediation.”


Hara Estroff Marano suggests that  “the future is always ideal: The fridge is stocked, the weather clear, the trains run on schedule and meetings end on time. Today, well, stuff happens.”

These visualizations don’t exactly take a stand on the ideal future, but unravel a possible sequence of interconnected events. There is enough food for thought here for those interested in the business of tomorrow – to read between the solid and dotted lines, to unravel, analyze and conjecture what it means for themselves, their industries, professional and personal lives. And there is room for more such visualizations.

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