In a June 9, 2006 Business 2.0 article Christopher Null writes, “Trendspotting is serious business. So much so that the Institute for the Future, a Palo Alto-based think tank, produces an annual 96-page 10-year forecast – an exhaustive compendium of societal and technological trends, widely regarded as the bellwether of long-range planning.
Just one problem: “Clients weren’t reading the reports,” admits Jason Tester, the IFTF’s research and design manager.
So, in summer 2003, Tester tried a different tack that became known as “artifacts from the future”: mocked-up products claiming to be from,” (the future).
A summary of why Institute for the Future creates artifacts. Full article here: Artifacts from the future
First, their tangible, specific nature forces us to think hard about what we really believe.
Second, thinking about artifacts makes you think hard about the interrelationships of technological, social, economic, and cultural factors.
Third, the shift to artifacts reflects our own sense that design is going to be a critical strategic skill in the future.
Fourth, many of our clients actually make things. They already communicate with each other in a language of prototypes.
Finally, artifacts from the future are part of a larger trend in the Institute of drawing closer lines between our research/brainstorming methods, and the media we use to communicate our ideas.