What this forum has taught me so far

I have been active in the futurist community, and more specifically the transhumanist community for many years now. When I got in there were two communication platforms that seemed to work for that community (or at least the part of it that I have made contact with): Mailing lists and Second Life. Well, ok, at least the latter one was quite futuristic. Both means of communication were ok, they both had their strengths.

And then there came Facebook. What Facebook seemed to do was to drain the mailing lists from their vitality until most of it was gobbled up. Now the dynamics on Facebook are different from mailing lists and Second Life. It’s a good tool for sharing information, but a bad platform for serious discussions, for various reasons. So, I thought: Let’s go bad to the good old forums that worked so well for so many “non-futurist” communities. Many futurists didn’t get what I meant. And if they got it, they mostly disagreed with me, and claimed that there is no problem – bullshit!

So, I founded the Social Future Forum, with the name as a more encompassing version of the “social futurist movement” initiated by Amon Twyman. The first version of the forum was based on the SMF (Simple Machines Forum) software. I was unhappy with it, for various reasons, but then I found the Discourse software, which suited the needs of a contemporary web forum much better. Later on, I changed the name of the forum into the “Fractal Future Forum” in the hope to get “social-phobic” US Americans on board. This name change didn’t have much of an effect.

Anyway, the last months have been a very silent period for this forum. It has been some kind of “summer slump”, or at least that was my explanation for declining participation levels. Now that I have thought about it, there were also some deeper issues with this forum.

This forum was and is intended as futurist project support platform, meaning that it would help futurist projects to get started and gain more attention. Well, that didn’t work out as I hoped it would. Instead, it pointed out that there was a deeper problem to futurist projects than just the lack of a half-decent online collaboration platform: Futurist projects have a very hard time attracting collaborators!

Why is that? Well, one part of the explanations is that futurists are bad followers. They are not eager to just join some project that somebody else has started. When this happens nevertheless, it’s a remarkable exception.

My basic idea was to bring the futurist community into this forum, which would then act as some kind of marketplace for futurist projects. Project leaders would advertise their projects in the hope to find some fitting persons to join them. And interested people would find out about what is going on in the futurist space, and what kinds of fascinating projects there are.

Well, there are two sides to any market: The supply side and the demand side. Sure, there is a supply side: All kinds of futurists have all kinds of projects. But the demand side in the futurist community is weak! Futurists are typically too busy to join and support just another futurist project. There is not much excess of time, energy, money, and other resources on the futurist demand side. This would mean that the supply side would have to fight furiously for the little demand there is available. But that is not what futurists usually do. The vast majority of them are not very good marketers, or recruiters, or even leaders. I wished I was good at playing those roles, but I must admit that I have serious deficits in those areas, too. Though, I’m seriously trying to get better.

There is no obvious perfect solution for this problem. One approach would be to get more normal “non-futurist” people in here, so that they can engage with the “futurist community” and maybe join a project. This would require to get them interested in those projects, however. And that’s where I see a big problem: Futurist need to get much better at “pitching” their projects to larger audiences. How can they do that? I’m not sure. Perhaps you have got an idea, or two… :smiley: