It is part fun and part frustration when you read Mark Penn’s book, “Microtrends”. On the one part it he has a few bright moments when some possible triggers for significant change are discussed, but most of the time it is a few (often American) numbers that is the base for some not so reflected thoughts.
For people engaged in work that require significant change (read paradigm shift, transformative change, (re-)evolution, etc) it is a valuable reminder to not forget the small, fast changing and often quite strong undercurrents in our world. We know that a number of macro trends will converge over the years to come and as tensions rise it will most certainly be a few of these undercurrents that tip the scale and send us off on new trajectory.
On a regular basis go through a number of “positive” (what you might hope for) and “negative” (what you probably do not want to see) possible small undercurrents is a healthy exercise.
Top three on the "positive side" the 28th of December 2007 (for me)
1. Ethics related to food
Both animal rights and poverty issues can surge as the desperation to support an unsustainable western lifestyle meet reality, especially as the "food" is used for energy and "wood/paper/pulp".
2. Living without external energy supply
Small decentralized options, that already exist could get a boom if a few profiles lead the way and people see how vulnerable our society is...
3. The interaction between humans-machines/AI
2008 will see a few new things on the market that could allow us to rethink our egocentric society, both mechanic and mental links is in the pipeline.
Top three on the "negative side" the 28th of December 2007 (for me)
1. The one person war
Someone with "brain" takes on parts of society with biotech and knowledge about the infrastructure, instead of shooting in all direction and then kill themselves as quite a few seem to to today. This could be the end to individual rights as we know it.
2. Plastic surgery, without the surgery
people drifting further in denial and narcissism as new medicines
3. Mental surgery
As Prozac nation is slowly turning into Prozac world, even better drugs and the acceptance for "smart food" is increasing we could see the first "soma" nations emerging. Maybe the reemergence of India is more than a coincidence (for most westerners it is not known that "soma" is something that Huxley found in the Indian texts "Rig Veda" and "Avesta").
For those who needs inspiration/frustration “Microtrends” might do the trick, but then again books like “The Tipping Point” and “Critical Mass” have done this kind of simple overview before and are a bit more inspiring I think. But it is the small things that matter... ;)