• In this paper we will study “weak signals” by concentrating on the journalistic texts of The New York Times before the stock market crashes of 1929, 1987 and 2000. The paper argues that, even if information and communication technology advanced dramatically from the 1920s to 2000, the flaws of business journalism in writing about stock markets have remained almost the same: their reporting is too enthusiastic (or positive) and uncritical, and therefore incapable of effectively detecting the weak signals of impending collapses on the Stock Exchange. Thus we might conclude that neither the increase in the speed of spreading the information nor the accessibility to such information necessarily leads to greater efficiency in using it. The New York Times itself stated repeatedly that the policy of the newspaper has always aimed at “not making financial crises worse”. Thus the pages of the newspaper contain more positive than negative articles on stock exchanges.
  • Research interests: The subjective value of information; Economics of information goods; Information markets (fee-based, free, social, public goods, prediction, aggregation); Information business models; Voluntary payments for information; Motivations for information sharing; Information overload.
  • …are ideas, trends, technologies or behaviour changes that are as yet unrecognised by mainstream society. They might have a big impact or they might disappear. We monitor them to help our partners challenge their assumptions about the future, navigate risk and seize new opportunities.
  • Scanning for Emerging Science & Technology Issues aims to develop a mechanism for the early identification of newly emerging issues of importance to the European research infrastructure. By collecting weak signals and developing anticipatory intelligence, SESTI will provide the means for proactively addressing these challenges at European and national level.

    The project builds on and adds value to existing national structures and competences in foresight and horizon scanning to create synergies and exploit complementarities. SESTI aims to provide a transnational “foundation” to horizon scanning to enable efficient use of anticipatory intelligence in both EU and national policy.

  • The 2-day kick-off conference of the European Foresight Platform has been held on June 14 and 15, 2010 at the Vienna French Cultural Institute in Austria. With over 80 attendees and about 20 presenters the event has been a huge success by bringing together international professional foresight communities, representatives from the European Commission and policy as well as the EFP consortium and the interested general public.

    A variety of different foresight and forward-looking projects and institutions have been presented at the conference. It has been a tour through all different perspectives of future-related activities which included quantitative forecasting and modeling, scenario development, technology forecasts and roadmaps, societal and cultural oriented future studies, participatory elements in foresight, weak signal and wild card research, foresight databases and ideas about new methods like using gaming and social networks for foresight and forward looking activities.

  • "It seems an odd thing to me that though we have thousands and thousands of professors and hundreds of thousands of students of history working upon the records of the past, there is not a single person anywhere who makes a whole-time job of estimating the future consequences of new inventions and new devices. There is not a single Professor of Foresight in the world. But why shouldn’t there be? All these new things, these new inventions and new powers, come crowding along; every one is fraught with consequences, and yet it is only after something has hit us hard that we set about dealing with it."

  • Presentation by Data Rangers, a Finnish software company, about TrendWiki.

  • Weak signals can range from small changes in behaviour and technology, to signs that a significant shift in a system might be imminent [see box ‘Weak signals, strong undercurrents’ below]. Often it can just involve a hunch that something different is underway, rather than a clear indication of predictable change. An individual signal might make little sense at the time; it might require a number of other similar signals, or a creative leap to realise just what it could be pointing to. It can be infuriatingly abstract. But you have to make a note just in case…

  • iKNOW has developed conceptual and methodological frameworks to identify, classify, cluster and analyse wild cards and weak signals and assess their implications for, and potential impacts on, Europe and the world. To do so, the iKNOW project has developed well-defined scanning strategies, such as the inward-looking top-down (ILTD), which is carried out by the iKNOW Consortium and involves the scanning of over 2,000 EU-funded research projects; and the outward-looking bottom-up (OLBU), which required the creation of the iKNOW Community (including policy-makers, decision-makers, researchers and foresight practitioners) to scan a wide range of knowledge sources (e.g. journal articles, blogs, news, etc.).

    As a result, iKNOW puts forward a novel ‘horizon scanning 2.0’ approach which, on the one hand, promotes participatory and bottom-up scanning supported by web 2.0 technologies, and, on the other hand, improves information collection, filtering, communication and exploitation.