It is our stories, not technologies, that shape our future

We are drowning in news about new technologies every day. Technologies that are solving difficult problems as well as opening new possibilities. It is easy to see them as the most powerful forces transforming our world. But we forget one important aspect. We perceive these technologies through the stories of our time. These stories are much more important factors shaping our future than any technology. It is the stories by which we explain ourselves, our situation, our role in the world and our future that determine our thinking decisions.

In the late 1990’s I visited Global Business Network in Emeryville to learn scenario planning. During those meetings I met many interesting people:  Peter Schwartz, Stewart Brand and Kevin Kelly. I was fascinated by their long view of the critical importance of stories. Since then I have been following their work and soon after they initiated the epic project to build a 10.000 year clock. The core idea was to challenge our current civilizational stories. By running a public project with a civilizational time frame of 10.000 years in the future, it will require us to take a longer view. A longer view that change our stories about on ourselves, our civilization and our future.

I have written about this a couple of times before so why do I mention it now? One reason is that I feel our times are now accelerating even more and we are starting to feel the future dizziness and nausea like we are being rolling around in a washing machine. In short: we are in more need than ever of inclusive longer term stories that organize our thinking and our societies.

A more direct reason is that a group of filmmakers published this beautiful short film describing the project.

The Clock of the Long Now from Public Record on Vimeo.