Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Trend-Spotting Key: Amount Of News Coverage By Category.

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The percentage of news and social media communications (these latter communications are actually a type of derivative news, or of news commentary) coverage dedicated to certain categories changes from day to day and year to year, depending upon several important variables. A sampling of these influential variables, in no particular order of significance, would include:
  • Cultural, Social, Business, Political, Economic, Technological, Medical/ Healthcare, Entertainment and other topics of interest or concern to readers, presumably because they exert an effect (real or perceived, current or anticipated) upon the readership, and the readers' appetites for information about things thought to be relevant to them will help "sell more papers." (an anachronistic but viable cliche);

  • The exertion of influence, contribution of "editorial" content and advertising and amount of promotion expenditures reflecting the respective agendas and marketing efforts of business, political and social special interest groups utilizing the news media as a bullhorn for messaging;

  • The exertion of topical influence and directional (i.e., opinion) bias by the companies which own or control the news media;

  • The increase in the proliferation of international commerce, global markets, and the rise in the frequency (coupled with the precipitous decline in the costs) of worldwide social communications/conversational capabilities between individuals and organizations...

The first two and last one of the items bulleted above may be deemed, for analytic purposes, as demand-driven, while the third and fourth items may be considered supply-driven. There are, of course,  areas of overlap and of autocorrelation (i.e., cause-and-effect interdependencies) between the two types of drivers.

Note: In using the term drivers, this satisfies a need for some generalization and simplification in the interest of discerning trends and making projections using this information. The distinctions used in this article are my own, but they are not arbitrary.

The other major technological/cultural variable (actually a catalyst) that is apparently too obvious to mention (but I will mention it anyway) is the dramatic increase in citizen journalism in all of its forms. Cyberspace is filled with text messages, emails, social media status updates, publicly-accessible blogs, virtual discussion forums and, of course, VoIP webcam and telephone calls. Skype, Vonage and other providers are making communication and commerce much less expensive, and much more probable between any given parties.

This phenomenon is exerting a powerful and growing influence on each and all of the five bulleted variables above.

Whether reactive or proactive, these myriad bits of information and opinion from diverse, unfettered, outspoken "citizen" sources are accelerating the "climatic" change in the composition and focus of all news media. News travels faster and further than ever before, and media reaction, in the sense of stimulus-response timing, is ever-accelerating. News moves very, very rapidly, and is more widespread and accessible than ever before.

A fine source of media coverage levels or percentages of news communications dedicated to certain topical categories is provided by The Pew Research Center's Project For Excellence In Media ("Year In The News/ State Of The Media") which can be found at

For example, if I compare three news subjects, from two different quarters of 2010 (the fourth and the second), you can see the difference in frequency percentages in three categories. These three categories were deliberately chosen just for the purpose of exaggerating this point.

These short-term variations regarding the coverage of fairly specific (or "hot") topics tend be be very substantial, but not terribly significant from a macroscopic perspective; if we really want to spot serious, meaningful trends, we need to take a look at the coverage of a larger number of generalized and more-broadly categorized topics (nothing as sensational, for example, as BP's ecological catastrophe, which represents more of an aberration than an exemplary trend variable) over longer periods of time.

This adjustment in our trend-spotting approach, i.e., 1) a larger number or matrix of categories; 2) more broadly-defined categories (to avoid the statistical and perceptual distortion associated with coverage of sensationalized items); and, 3) longer expanses of time for making our observations will tend to give us less "news spike hype" and more solid trending and tendencies.

To be continued...

Douglas E Castle []

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

10 Tech-Trends: Predictive Or Causative?

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A widely-read, authoritative source of information will not only provide some insight into the future, but may well strongly influence it. Forbes magazine is a wonderful example. Are these great oracles prognosticators or influencers? In anticipating or envisioning a future which is described and promoted by a powerful source, does society and its institutions unconsciously move toward making these hypothesized futurescapes and innovations come into being, as if being "directed?"

This is both a philosophical and pragmatic consideration for all global futurists, trend-watchers and planning professionals. This recursive feedback effect is a prediction algorithm nightmare! Both Heisenberg and Nostradamus must be spinning in their graves.

I am an occasional reader of Forbes, and value not so much what wisdom their excellent writers may impart in terms of futurism and prediction, but the influence which they wield in terms of the masses, the resultant "re-posting media ripple effect," and the indisputable power of the self-fulfilling prophesy which Forbes, as a well-regarded "authoritative source" imputes into the fabric from which the future is woven...

Enjoy what follows:

Notwithstanding the prediction paradox discussed at the opening of my article, I found the advances cited in the above Forbes outline very much in accord with my own predictive inclinations. And I state this regardless of whether this information is predictive or causative.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Future Weapons, Technology And Tactics

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This post is not intended to be completely humorous. It is accidentally humorous in that it speaks of typical human behavior, the unfathomable (and expensive) cost of design errors, our obsession with being the most powerful country in the world (because no country trusts any other country, right?).  I've had some fun at the expense of DARPA - it would appear that they have launched another stunning white elephant. Admittedly, no new innovation is without its bugs and some need for testing and refinement.

It makes me wonder -- if all of the world's nations could invest a portion or their respective defense and weapons development budgets in a mechanism to engender international trust through some system of accountability and consequences, then perhaps we could save enough of a fortune to invest in education, entrepreneurship and building a sustainable, peaceful and prosperous civilization. We are more obsessed with the notion of developing lethal pre-emptive strike capabilities (as quickly as possible) than we are about improving the quality of life.

The saddening irony here is that without working toward a decent quality of life (a flourishing economy, ripe with innovation productivity, growth, education, an improved standard of living, better healthcare, a less toxic environment, more time for leisure and social interaction with other members of our species -- as well as with the occasional dolphin --), what are we defending?

You may read more about this at

Douglas E Castle
TNNWC Group, LLC and

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Prediction: Science, Logic, Imagination, Intuition and C-Factors

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In order to predict the future and to effectively create and prepare for a futurescape, a fusion and balancing of several disciplines is necessary:

1) science and math (extrapolation of trends across a variety of sectors, and the unbiased use of all predictive systems -- some of which may seem illogical but which are none the less proven, effective predictors);

2) logical, critical thought (determining which trends to include and which are less relevant, as well as which elements are exogenous -- such as unexplainable but yet recurring "natural" waves and cycles -- and which are endogenous -- those which are cause and effect-based, and which may or may not be controllable based upon Human intervention);

3) imagination and vision (the ability to hypothesize, construct and visualize alternative futures);

4) intuition (an open-minded sensitivity or "connection" to what mystics, philosophers, theosophists and an increasing number of reluctant scientists are calling anything from the "collective consciousness" and the "Akashic records" to the "universal mind" or simply "prescience"); and

5) something I'll call the "C-Factors," categorically -- these are wild cards, natural or preternatural events and other factors which may impact us in certain seemingly unpredictable ways. Esoteric stuff, I'll admit.

Some have likened the effects of these C-Factors to those phenomena which exist by virtue of Complexity Theory (or Chaos Theory, for those from the original school of thought), where a tiny event can initiate a spiral or sequence of increasingly larger, seemingly unrelated events.

The best way to illustrate something that resembles (albeit crudely and metaphorically) this amazing type of perceptual effect would be certain giant symbols [usually carved into the Earth over many miles, or built to significant pyramid-like size and positioning] which can not be "understood" from walking around them on the ground, but which can be seen as symbols or other indicators only from a pilot's-eye view, i.e., from many miles from the Earth's surface.

This brings to mind many unexplained geological phenomena (Giza, Easter Island, "airstrips" in Peru, and countless others) which we call 'wonders' but which other sentient beings, from a much grander perspective might call 'communications' or 'language.'  These C-Factors must be given attention, and from any number of different perspectives, in order to determine what they might mean, and what they might cause.

We may, as mere Human Global Futurists, be likened to mites looking at one brick in a much larger structure. We may be foolish and conceited enough to believe that our perspective is the intended or grandest perspective.

We must be aware of our inherent limitations and biases when getting down to the business of prediction and preparation.

Returning briefly to the notion of the "C-Factor", or what we might collectively refer to as the "C-Factor Phenomenon."
Here's a wild card worth taking a look at -- solar storm activity, and its short-term possible effects as anticipated by some observers of such phenomena [it is interesting to note that no speculation is offered with respect to the longer-term effects of this type of solar activity]:

Latest Crisis: Solar Storms Are Set to Hit the Earth

The Atlantic WireBy 

Ujala Sehgal | The Atlantic Wire – Sat, Aug 6, 2011

It certainly seems like the world has been under attack lately. Now that "Debtaggedon" is over, Reuters is reporting that there have been three large explosions from the Sun over the past few days, and that "sun storms" are set to hit the Earth. The U.S. government, which is pretty pressed for time as it is right now, is warning "users of satellite, telecommunications and electric equipment to prepare for possible disruptions over the next few days." Or, as National Geographic informs us: "Storms are brewing about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) away, and if one of them reaches Earth, it could knock out communications, scramble GPS, and leave thousands without power for weeks to months." [click here for more] ####


Douglas E Castle

The Global Futurist []
Links 4 Life Alerts!
InfoSphere Business Alerts And Intelligence
Business And Project Planning

Sponsored by: TNNWC Management Consulting Services
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Monday, August 8, 2011

Planetary Geographical Arbitrage: The Next "Big Thing" -Trends - Lingovations

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International Markets are in an unprecedented state of confusion - with casualties and beneficiaries - with fiscal tragedies and investment opportunities.  And it is happening rapidly, at a dizzying pace.

Foreign exchange (FOREX) rates are swinging; relative currency valuations are fluctuating; securities exchanges are pin-drop sensitive and shatteringly volatile day-to-day; commodities prices are flying madly about; international asset flight is increasing in volume; wealth is switching form (i.e., running from bonds and currencies and pouring into gold and traditional "hard assets"); sovereign debt ratings are the subject of constant scrutiny by debt-rating agencies (such as Moody's and Standard and Poor's), and by institutional and public investors; and, the disparity between the wealth, or purchasing power, of nations is varying in an undeclared aftermarket all its own --- the result of a confluence of all of these other variables.

The next "Big Thing" might be the game of Planetary Geographical Arbitrage. This is not so much a Lingovation, as it is a logical combination of terms but in an unusual new context.

Planetary Geographical Arbitrage, as I see it from the perspective of The Global Futurist and The Internationalist Page might be simplistically defined as follows:

"Planetary Geographical Arbitrage is an investment strategy whereby the currency or wealth of one country is used, by its holders, to make strategic (i.e., influential or controlling) investments in companies, securities or assets of another country, or of financial instruments which are denominated in, or tied to, the currency of another country."

For example, if Country A has a strong currency and a strong economy, its wealth holders have a window of opportunity (for some period of time, which is not certain) to purchase undervalued (ostensibly) assets which are available in a "fire sale" in a country (Country B) which has a devastated economy and a relatively weak national currency.

The possibilities and implications are tremendous in terms of the global balance of power, and the ultimate re-distribution of true wealth worldwide.

Instead of merely diversifying portfolio assets in the traditional sense, this up-and-coming generation of Planetary Geographical Arbitrageurs will actually be looking at buying, in effect, pieces of other nations if the discount is deemed steep enough. The political implications are just as mind-boggling as the macroeconomic potentials.

This topic is going to be growing bigger and bigger, as the realization of this undeclared market comes into being. Those with the vision to participate in this game will become enormously rich and influential - not only will principals (the investors) be involved, but there is a fortune waiting to made for those individuals and firms able to facilitate these mega-transactions, through brokerage, advisory, or management services.

There will certainly be a great deal to be discussed here. Please stay tuned.


Douglas E Castle

Other Blogs Of Interest By The Same Author:
The Global Futurist
The Internationalist Page
TNNWC International Management Consulting Services (ICS)
Planetary Geographical Arbitrage
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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Socio-Ecomic Waves, 40-Year Business Cycles And The Pendulum Effect.

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This fascinating piece follows from the MondayMorningMemo, produced and published by the iconic Roy C. Williams, the self-proclaimed (and occasionally very insightful) "Wizard Of Ads." His words ring ominously true upon the ears of every true futurist, trend-watcher and socio-economic forecaster.

History, like a bad lunch, has a tendency to repeat itself. And history tends to swing from extreme to extreme (the pendulum effect) in various astonishingly predictable waves and cycles of time. These reactionary paradigm shifts are not predicated upon the extrapolation of "cause and effect" logic, but on periodicity -- certain lengths of time. Remember the movie "Groundhog Day"?

Ironically, some of these predictable swings can be foreseen by checking your calendar without even taking a look at trending news. Like the life cycle of a Human Being, it would seem that the World has a rhythm of its own. And it would seem that this rhythm is exogenously determined by a force beyond our individual or collective consciousness or abilities to control. I will leave this contemplation to the reader, as it involves issues well beyond my depth, expertise or certainty.

Douglas E Castle

You'll find Roy's treatment of this subject as fascinating as you will find it frightening......

"Let me start at the beginning:

We see the world through the lens of an entirely different set of values every 40 years. We become a different people.

We are pulled 20 years up from the tipping point to the zenith of a “We” (1923 to 1943.)
We swing 20 years down to the next tipping point (1963.) Tipping points are interesting times.

We are pulled 20 years up to the zenith of a “Me” (1963 to 1983.)

We swing 20 years down to the next tipping point (2003.)

Eighty years is a complete cycle but there are only 40 years between the extremes. (The 1943 zenith of “We” to 1983 zenith of “Me.”)

We’re nearly halfway up to the next zenith of “We" (2023.) 2011 is 1931 all over again. But instead of being gaga over a thing called “radio” we’re gaga over this thing called “online.”

A new set of values every 40 years...

On one side are the values of “We,” the team, the tribe, the group working together, staying connected.

On the other side are the values of “Me,” the individual, unique and special and possessing unlimited potential.


1. …demands freedom of expression.
2. …applauds personal liberty.
3. …believes one man is wiser than a million men, “A camel is a racehorse designed by a committee.”
4. …wants to achieve a better life.
5. …is about big dreams.
6. …desires to be Number One. “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
7. …admires individual confidence and is attracted to decisive persons.
8. …leadership is,Look at me. Admire me. Emulate me if you can.”
9. …strengthens a society’s sense of identity as it elevates attractive heroes.


1. …demands conformity for the common good.
2. …applauds personal responsibility.
3. …believes a million men are wiser than one man, “Two heads are better than one.”
4. …wants to create a better world.
5. …is about small actions.
6. …desires to be a productive member of the team. “I came, I saw, I concurred.”
7. …admires individual humility and is attracted to thoughtful persons.
8. …leadership is, “This is the problem as I see it. Please consider the things I am telling you and perhaps we can solve this problem together.”
9. …strengthens a society’s sense of purpose as it considers all its problems.

“Me” and “We” are equal-but-opposite attractions that pull our perspective one way, then the other. Western society swings like a pendulum from one set of values to the other every 40 years with the regularity of an old and reliable grandfather clock.

“Me” and “We” values are equally good, but we always take a good thing too far.

If history is to be our guide, the next 20 years will be when we move from our agreement of mutual brokenness, “I’m Not Okay – You’re Not Okay,” to embrace a self-righteous indignation, “I’m Okay – You’re Not Okay.” Sanctimonious vigilante-ism will become popular as indignant leaders demonize their enemies and rally their followers by appealing to their inborn sense of rightness and social obligation, “Let’s clean this place up and to hell with compromise. They are entirely wrong and we are entirely right. They are stupid. We are wise. They are evil. We are good.”

The last time we went through this, America formed a committee in Congress called the House Un-American Activities Committee (1938) which later watched with glee while Senator Joseph McCarthy destroyed countless careers by recklessly branding his enemies as “Communists” and creating the infamous blacklists.

This sounds a bit far-fetched, doesn’t it? I know it does. I'm writing because I want you to be able to look back and recall how absurd this all sounded when I first told you what was on the horizon if history can be trusted.

A self-righteous nut with a gun killed dozens of people in Norway and believed he was doing the right thing.

That’s the problem with self-righteous nuts; they always believe they’re doing the right thing.

Roy H. Williams

Observation: We cannot predict or prepare for the future without taking into account these "temporal Pendulum swings" and cycles. An accurate forecasting model or algorithm requires that these seemingly exogenously-determined or caused cycles be given inclusion and proper weighting. -- DC
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