Reports from the Knowledge Labs about our recent findings, research topics, and interviews with lifestyle leaders who are creating their own futures.

How to stimulate your own powers of foresight. Consider the following thought provokers. Ask yourself, in these categories what are the brand new trends and forces? Which are the ones growing in importance? Which current forces are loosing their steam? Which have peaked or are reversing themselves? Which are the "wildcards" about to disrupt us in the future? POLITICAL AND TECHNICAL thought for food: Electronics, Materials, Energy, Fossil, Nuclear, Alternative, Other, Manufacturing (techniques), Agriculture, Machinery and Equipment, Distribution, Transportation (Urban, Mass, Personal, Surface, Sea, Subsurface, Space), Communication (Printed, Spoken, Interactive, Media), Computers (Information, Knowledge, Storage & Retrieval, Design, Network Resources), Post-Cold War, Third World, Conflict (Local, Regional, Global), Arms Limitation, Undeclared Wars, Terrorism, Nuclear Proliferation, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Governments (More/Less Power and Larger or Smaller Scale), Taxes, Isms: Nationalism, Regionalism, Protectionism, Populism, Cartels, Multinational Corporations, Balance of Trade, Third Party Payments, Regulations (OSHA, etc.) Environmental Impact, U.S. Prestige Abroad. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC Food for thought: Labor Movements, Unemployment / Employment Cycles, Recession, Employment Patterns, Work Hours / Schedules, Fringe Benefits, Management Approaches, Accounting Policies, Productivity, Energy Costs, Balance of Payments, Inflation, Taxes, Rates of Real Growth, Distribution of Wealth, Capital Availability and Costs, Reliability of Forecasts, Raw Materials, Availability and Costs, Global versus National Economy, Market versus Planned Economies, Generations: Y, X, Boomers, Elderly, Urban vs. Rural Lifestyles, Affluent vs. Poor, Neighborhoods and Communities, Planned or Organic Growth. Got Knowledge?

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The Journal of 2020 Foresight
Wednesday, August 13, 2003  

Degrees of Kevin Bacon, Or Doing What You Love with Other Birds of a Feather

Chapter Three: The Outpost

By Steve Howard, CKO
The Knowledge Labs

Table of Contents
Chapter One: Basecamp
Chapter Two: The Ridge
Chapter Three: The Outpost
Chapter Four: The Tribal Territories

“From March to June 1803 (Meriwether) Lewis spent time at the U.S. arsenal in Harper’s Ferry, Lancaster, and Philadelphia in securing arms, overseeing the design and construction of an experimental iron frame boat he dubbed ‘The Experiment,’ being tutored by the leading men of science and medicine of the day, and procuring supplies. Upon his return to Washington in June, Lewis invited his friend and former commanding officer, William Clark, to join him as an equal partner in the undertaking. After wrapping up his affairs, Lewis left Washington for Pittsburgh on July 5. He would not return to the capital city for three and one-half years.”

James J. Holmberg

Journal of 2020 Foresight: Both of you told me the initial learning expeditions began with Harry Dent’s list. The one that attracts individuals and businesses yearning for open, innovative, social and professional climates – the nine new growth areas in real estate. And, how the knowledge base can plot migration paths from one neighborhood to another throughout the West and to some resort islands.

Explorer: Grey Owl synthesized the first phase of the knowledge base from multiple expeditions – roughly a dozen. The working title of the experiment was “Doing What You Love with Birds of a Feather.”

Eagle: Speaking of which, couldn’t we use it to find out where Grey Owl is? We figured out swallows and Father Serra meant San Juan Capistrano, and we realized San Juan was the name of the National Forest …

J2020F: What do you mean?

Explorer: He means cheating. You see, the knowledge base is our choice of LAST resort. When we can’t put all of the clues together to come up with our destination answer. We know that he’s somewhere in the world with one or more expedition team members. He could be with the tropical resort team, or with “It’s Wired, Do What You Love Anywhere” team or the innovation-growth team, or the Idaho team, or the new eco-topia team, or the 34 to 45 Age Group team, or the elite suburb team, or the country squires team, or the ….

Eagle: In three clicks, we could probably use the clues to search the experience and research generated by the teams following Dent’s initial list and come up with the answer.

J2020F: You keep mentioning Dent’s list. What is it?

Eagle: Harry Dent’s brilliant. He researched a lot of the best places to consider for a lifestyle change, a real estate investment, and or an entrepreneurial venture.

Explorer: In priority order, from best to least, for finding all three in one place, he lists:

Resort Towns
Small College and University Towns
Classic Towns
Revitalized Factory Towns
Suburban Villages
Emerging New Cities
Large-Growth Cities
Urban Villages

J2020F: So what this means, is the knowledge base grows as members of learning expeditions explore the places which represent the best fit for their preferences?

Explorer: And make good on their commitment to make it better than it was when they began to use it.

Eagle: In the discovery phase, we’re more interested in connecting people together who share the same kinds of interests and preferences with each other, than we are building a sophisticated database. That will come later.

J2020F: Let me see if I get this right. This is more like mining knowledge, but using the rules of thumb, tools and resources that the miners themselves use instead relying on a sophisticated computer program?

Explorer: In a way. The knowledge nuggets each of the miners discovers are theirs. Unlike gold or silver mining in the California gold rush or in the Colorado towns, knowledge doesn’t lose its value when it is given away or divided into shares.

Eagle: Did you say divided into shares? Read back Grey Owl’s second set of clues.

Explorer: You mean something about “the basic math of howling in the water that runs both ways?”

Eagle: Basic math might refer to adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing.

J2020F: Can we stay on track? So, you’ve been saying the purpose behind the knowledge base is to build a network of knowledge nomads? Can you explain how it works?

Eagle: Learning expeditions examine whether or not a new town or area fits -- the birds of a feather feature. You can determine if a town is attracting people like you. You can tell if the people who live there are ones you'd enjoy as neighbors. As they gather information to make their own decisions, they share what they learn with each other.

Explorer: As current and future expedition members investigate features about an area, using the knowledge base saves them time. Because of its community of tribes feature – the network of people – it also speeds up the process of making contacts and getting introductions.

J2020F: From an investment standpoint, how can you tell if the town will enjoy a higher appreciation in real estate?

Eagle: You’d have to find out if it is attracting the trend setting lifestyles of the more affluent. If it is then, the area fits your criteria. And, the good news is Grey Owl has synthesized a lot of intelligence gathering from several expeditions to help you decide.

Explorer: And, you’d want to examine your appetite for risk with the highest potential for appreciation – selecting a town in the innovation growth stage vs. an investment in a less risky, but with less appreciation potential that might be found in an emerging new city or late growth city.

J2020F: And you’re saying Grey Owl’s knowledge base helps you with your decision? Give me an example.

Explorer: Let’s see. How about one that demonstrates how the birds of a feather phenomenon cuts across several learning expeditions – each with their own shared objectives – and when synthesized yields better knowledge useful to the whole community?

J2020F: You can do that?

Eagle: Sure.

Explorer: Careful. He’s bending the rules.

J2020F: What do you mean?

Explorer: He’s just found a legitimate way to solve the riddle by answering your question.

Eagle: So?

Explorer: So, let’s see you pull this one off. You’re about to see the famous “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon” in action!

J2020F: You mean how you can find a connection between any two famous celebrities through their direct and indirect association with a Kevin Bacon movie? As in, his commercial on T.V.?

Explorer: Yup, the statistical data has been around for years. The basic observation is that anyone can be introduced to any other person simply by asking a circle of friends. Time and time again introductions to that person can be arranged by referral in six or fewer contacts.

J2020F: So, the first degree represents your first request to a friend or relative, for instance. They refer you to a most likely contact within their circle of associates – the second degree. And that referral connects you to a third degree of probable gate-keepers, and so on?

Explorer: That’s right.

Eagle: Give me something to start with. What to you want to find? And I’ll ask some questions that will help me tap into some of the on-going expeditions so we can find the answer.

J2020F: OK. How about if I’m interested in investing in a place with high appreciation and it would have to appeal to someone living in neighborhoods in say, Dana Point or San Juan Capistrano – where you launched your original learning expedition – and say someplace else like Austin, Texas.

Eagle: Good. Now, what I’m going to do is take advantage of the past learning already in the knowledge base generated by teams investigating the top of Dent’s list – the resort towns, but at the innovation phase. Just let me fire up my laptop, here. And, you said, what else?

J2020F: Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano on the coast in south Orange County, remember?

Eagle: Right and also we want to dip into the “Birds of a Feather” (BOF) in Austin – right? Do you want to narrow it down? Where in Austin?

J2020F: OK, what’s Austin famous for? How about Dell computers? Let’s do that. Take a look at BOFs on the outskirts of Austin somewhere south of Round Rock, maybe midway between Leander and Austin. What do you show there?

Eagle: How about what looks like the Wells Branch area on the map?

J2020F: Perfect.

Eagle: Let’s see. I don’t think we’ve tried to Kevin Bacon-ize these areas before. But, here goes. “Trust the process, Luke.”

Explorer: Some times he gets overly dramatic. I can tell you from our experience that you played right into his hand. We’ve discovered we can track the BOF migration in 6 degrees or less to almost anywhere from Dana Point.

Eagle: Oh, great. Go ahead and steal my thunder!

Explorer: But, I’m not so certain he can solve Grey Owl’s riddle as well. This should be fun.

Got Knowledge?
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