Friday, June 27, 2008

Ideas of Futures (Passed)

I'd like to take a brief interlude from my recent articles on innovation, and indulge in something a bit more personal.

As much as I enjoy connecting with the challenges of defining the future, I really appreciate looking at futures past, or more aptly, those that were passed over. I especially am drawn to creative expressions of what technologies and society might have looked like, but never saw the light of day except as some tangential form of entertainment.

A blog I discovered about a year ago truly fascinates me. It's called Paleo Future, and it is perhaps one of the most unique collections of past (and passed) visions of the future that I've seen. A recent article particularly caught my eye, and included a slide show that was being developed for a girl geek dinner. There is another slide show in the article itself, but the one that caught my eye the most is shown below.

It takes so many ideas from creative people and processes to acheive the breakthroughs that future generations enjoy as everyday amentities. We tend to forget ideas that didn't quite make it (and rapidly lose touch with the fact that they were once created).

Recently, one of my favorite forgotten ideas surfaced over at Damn Interesting. One of Ford's answers to the '57 Chevy was a design concept that was never prototyped - the 1957 Ford Nucleon. An elite team of Ford's engineers were asked to look far into the future, and dreamed of a world without fossil fuels or harmful vapors. The Ford Nucleon would have used a steam turbine to drive both torque propulsion and electric generators that would satisfy all of the automoting customer's needs. This wonderous vision of the future was powered by a pint-sized nuclear reactor in the trunk. It gave a different meaning to "green" transportation.

The future is built on creativity and the freedom to fail, as well as succeed. Governments, academic institutions and industry giants have recognized and succeeded on this principle of human nature. As important as it is to be reminded of examples of where our creativity will take us (such as the Futurama exhibit at the 1939 World's Fair), visions of past inventive creativity (successful and otherwise) should not be far removed from anyone's innovation toolkit.


Eric Orchard said...

What an amazing blog! Great insight and you really draw together science and creativity. It really got me inspired. I'm in the midst of doing a comic book for young people about science and it's context in culture and history called the Robot Museum. I'll be publishing pages intermittently on my blog over the summer. I'd love to have your thoughts. I'll certainly be back to explore your ideas more.

Jim Belfiore said...

Thanks, Eric! I really appreciate and am humbled by your comments. I've been lost in your web site and one of your blogs for over an hour. Your work is simply breath-taking and haunting.

I would be happy to offer what feedback I can on your Robot Museum book. (You might also find my wife's artwork to be a similar source of inspiration, as it is to me.)

Thanks again!

Eric Orchard said...

Thank you so much! Johnna's work is astounding. I love how she suggests a rich narrative, a whole other world through her sculpture. Amazing stuff!