One of the fascinating ideas of long term thinking is that just when you think something can't happen, wait... time has a way of overcoming long odds. Speaking of which, check out www.longnow.org of the Long Now Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering longer term thinking. Established in 1996 [or, as they like to say, 01996, an homage to the Y2K crisis that exposed our short-sightedness] the foundation sponsors a number of inspiring activities, including the Rosetta Project, to create a digital reference library of the world's languages, and the Clock Project, designing and building a mechanical clock to tick off the centuries until the next Millennium. But in the category of just-plain-cool, the website for placing long term bets is worth a look to stretch your thinking. How long will it be before we mount a serious manned mission to Mars? How long before we discover extraterrestrial intelligence? Will the U.S. Mens Soccer Team win the World Cup before the Red Sox win the World Series? Well, that last had already been decided back in 2004, after the team's ended its 86 year drought to break The Curse of the Bambino. Long term, long odds.
Earlier, I wrote about the Berlin Wall, and my own inability to imagine its ultimate demise. Change is inevitable, even if it's slow. What other things exist today that you believe to be permanent? And once you admit the possibility of change, how long do you think it'll be before they will have to change? Ten years? Twenty? A Hundred?
The challenge for design is to influence the changes that matter when the opportunities arise, and to create opportunities according to the need.