The past lies in wait

The future is rational
only in hindsight. -mg taylor axiom

At long last, backcasting is becoming a common concept and a mainstream practice among the service design ecosystem as well as communities and organizations actively engaged in designing their future.

When I read this passage from the absurdly great Italo Calvino, I am reminded of a correlary axiom to "the future is rational only in hindsight": history lies in wait for us only in the future. In other words, what we do in the future will go a long way towards making sense and meaning of what has happened up to this point. Of course, Calvino embues it with poetry in how he phrases it:

"The more one was lost in unfamiliar quarters of distant cities, the more one understood the other cities he had crossed to arrive there... What he sought was always something lying ahead, and even if it was a matter of the past, it was a past that changed gradually as he advanced on his journey.
The foreigness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossed places."  - Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities


Wayfinding our way into the future

"Adaptation is the act of bending a structure to fit a new hole. Evolution, on the other hand, is a deeper change that reshapes the architecture of the structure itself – often producing more holes for others.

Every worker dabbling in artificial evolution has been struck by the ease with which evolution produces the improbable. Evolution doesn’t care about what makes sense; it cares about what works!" Tom Ray, Out of Control by Kevin Kelly, page 340

Historically, wayfinding refers to the techniques used by travelers over land and sea to find relatively unmarked and often mislabeled routes.

Since we are traveling into an unknown future, a good wayfinding process can help us decide when, how, and where to go. It can help us find unmarked and often mislabeled routes deep into future opportunities, perhaps helping us avoid treacherous paths and dangerous assumptions. Wayfinders help mark the way for others to follow.

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