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19 Reviews
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspired and thought provoking
This is definitely one of my favourite books. The future is more difficult to forecast than ever before, yet quite a lot of people (myself included) have jobs that involve some degree of positioning for the long term. I found Richard Watson's fresh, fun and mischievous approach to future forecasting very compelling and useful in my work.

It's no so much the...
Published on 20 Oct 2008 by Dr. A. S. Martin

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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bloated and slapdash
Alarm bells started to ring on page two of the introduction, when the author explains that this book is based on an 8,000 word article which a commissioning editor at a publishing company asked if he could "stretch out" to 90,000 words. After that guileless admission, it was hardly a surprise that the book felt so waffly and padded.

What did surprise me is that...
Published on 16 Oct 2008 by Andy Carlisle


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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspired and thought provoking, 20 Oct 2008
By 
Dr. A. S. Martin (Cornwall, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is definitely one of my favourite books. The future is more difficult to forecast than ever before, yet quite a lot of people (myself included) have jobs that involve some degree of positioning for the long term. I found Richard Watson's fresh, fun and mischievous approach to future forecasting very compelling and useful in my work.

It's no so much the actual predictions, but the "joined up thinking" that I most enjoyed. Watson has taken observations of the present, used logical extrapolation and then (the bit I like) combined two or more of these threads together to arrive at initially surprising, yet on further contemplation quite reasonable future predictions.

This is certainly a book for people interested in the future, but perhaps also for people who experience concern about the future. I felt as though reading the book allowed me to glimpse a wide range of possible futures and comprehend some of the factors that determine which fork(s) we will chose along the path. In doing so, the future feels less unknown.

Richard Watson runs a web site [...] where you can experience his way of thinking with a lot of free content and also download Chapter one of the book.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bloated and slapdash, 16 Oct 2008
Alarm bells started to ring on page two of the introduction, when the author explains that this book is based on an 8,000 word article which a commissioning editor at a publishing company asked if he could "stretch out" to 90,000 words. After that guileless admission, it was hardly a surprise that the book felt so waffly and padded.

What did surprise me is that there appears to have been no attempt to impose retrospective order on ideas chucked down in whatever sequence they popped into the author's head ("Actually, mentioning religion brings me to another thought: perhaps science will be the new religion"). It reads like a stream-of-consciousness first draft.

So we have the author contradicting himself in the space of a single paragraph: he notes that working longer hours is not making us happier, then argues that we introspect more about happiness because we have more time on our hands. And we have sloppy non-sequiturs: "if a generation has fewer offspring, its genetic legacy is reduced. This means that the beliefs to which a generation adheres weaken over time." Beliefs are transmitted genetically?

If you want a scattergun collection of ideas about the future and don't mind an inane and shallow writing style, this is fine. If you're hoping for a level of analysis that rises above "personally I think that AI in any meaningful sense is a long way off. Having said that, can you imagine the implications if an internet of the future did actually become aware of its own existence? Ohmygawd", don't waste your money.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The future is harder to predict than the past, 20 Oct 2008
By 
A. Crosthwaite (UK) - See all my reviews
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I went to the launch of this book at the RSA (if you want to see the author in action, go to ...).

I was so impressed I bought the book (but stopped short at the company)

If you want dry academic rigour, look elsewhere. If you want a highly readable and provocative scan into the future, full of nuggets to drop casually into dinner party conversation your money will be well-spent.

I am here to buy a copy to replace the one I purchased at the launch, that has mysteriously gone missing. If it doesn't return I would put that down as a further endorsement.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hugely entertaining; genuinely thought-provoking, 24 Sep 2009
By 
Jonathan Gifford (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
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A fair test of any futurologist is whether they can actually predict future events. One of the many things that make me warm to Richard Watson is that he wrote Future Files in 2008, just before the Credit Crunch hit the world. Watson had the advantage of having already witnessed the beginnings of the US subprime 'mortgage fiasco' but predicts further US loan defaults and a possible `second subprime tsunami'. He makes constant references to the likelihood of a global economic crash. This man has earned his soothsayer badge.
Watson's crystal ball scans a wide range of future possibilities. Global warming? No big deal: mankind as a whole will cope with anything that the climate throws at us, as we have for the past many millennia. Over-population? Probably no big deal - as economies develop, so populations will both shrink and age, giving us a whole new set of headaches.
Things to worry about? The end of privacy and the end of ugliness; the end of getting lost; the end of lunch, desktop computers, the Aral Sea, petrol engines and telephone directories.
Things to keep you awake at night? GRIN technologies: the inevitable coming together of Genetics, Robotics, Internet and Nanotechnology to create heaven knows what unimaginable (and perhaps uncontrollable) new technologies that will change all of our lives.
Watson's book is an absolute riot. It's fun to read, and it raises a number of serious practical and ethical issues, not only about future lifestyles but also about the future of business and politics.
The book may be less than rigorous in parts, but this is futurology, not analysis. A must read. Stimulating ideas don't normally come in such an entertaining package.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Just a lot of ideas, 3 April 2012
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This book is a good collection of ideas that have been gathered from various newspaper articles, blogs or similar content sources. It painfully lacks a structure or a cohesive storyline and is presented as a collection of ideas/trends. There is no scientific approach to anything included in the book, other than a detailed referencing of most material in its website (I didn't actually check this but it was mentioned in the book).

If you're a complete outsider to latest trends then what is presented here might be a good 101 to hear about the major buzzwords. Other than that, especially if you are even a little bit "in the know", this might end up being a waste of time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad., 29 July 2011
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Plenty of creative ideas. Not many hard facts and stats.

Could be interesting for someone that likes to day dream about what the future will bring.

This is not a book that will help you prepare your business for the next 5years.
Also, unless you have a very good grasp of global trends and current figures, this book can easily throw you off course.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining and insightful read, 23 Oct 2008
By 
Matt Doyle - See all my reviews
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I found this book entertaining, amusing, and also thought-provoking. It's a fast-paced "stream of consciousness" ride through a whole spectrum of facts, trends, quotations, ideas and forecasts, from society and government through to science, technology, food, retail and travel (and more besides).

Future Files provides a snapshot of where we are as a planet today coupled with extrapolations, thoughts and insights to get the creative juices flowing. I found that the book sparked a lot of fresh ideas on both a business and a personal level, and engendered a certain amount of perspective and clarity on many topics and trends.

The book contains hundreds of facts, ideas and connections, yet its style is engaging and easy to follow, making it hard to put down. Well worth reading if you're at all involved in business decision-making, or if you simply fancy an entertaining, eye-opening look at both our present and our possible future!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Stimulating and Fun at the same time, 22 Mar 2010
By 
Richard Napier (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Future Files: A Brief History of the Next 50 Years (Paperback)
I really enjoyed reading this book. I enjoyed it for several reasons

1) Clear, well defined chapters. The danger with this sort of "big picture" book is that it rambles. Although this one is a bit heavy in places, it generally focuses well on each subject

2) Light and easy reading despite the weighty topics. I enjoyed the British sense of humor and it helps that many of the chapters are full of every-day examples and related points

3)An awareness of the past helping the author describe his vision of the future. The extrapolations never felt forced,always grounded in good sense and therefore ultimately very believable.

There was only one point that frustrated me with this book, and ultimately it is common to similar kinds of book, namely that as soon as it is written it is in part out of date. Some of the updates needed updating already.

Thankfully the website that the author runs can provide an "ongoing" dialog and vision.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Bah, 22 May 2014
By 
F. Santos (Mountainview, CA, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Future Files: A Brief History of the Next 50 Years (Paperback)
I should have known that this book would be a complete waste of my time!
A description that starts with "Wlliam Gladwell meets Alvin Toffler in this lively, provocative and witty look" can't mean anything useful!
The book is an assortment of ideas, sometimes more close to a jumble than anything else, written in a way that sounds funny but actually isn't.
As some other reviewer wrote, some of the ideas are good for a dinner party conversation or if you want to look smart and informed. If you're looking for useful information, look elsewhere!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Future is bright, the future is..., 28 Jan 2011
By 
Dilraj Sidhu "D. Sidhu-Singh" (London,England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Future Files: A Brief History of the Next 50 Years (Paperback)
I am not in the habit of writing reviews (who has the time?!) but this book really deserves to be applauded and to get wider coverage. Like many people who wonder, 'What next?!' I was searching for an insightful perspective and found it. The author, Richard Watson, has taken a subject that just about anybody can write. The difference is that he has provided a view of the future with credibility by linking it with the past and the present with relevant and referenced details. If you want to know what the future is 'probably' going to look like - this is the book for you. You will not be disappointed and the Trends and Technology Timeline graphic is worth the price of admission on its' own.
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Future Files: A Brief History of the Next 50 Years
Future Files: A Brief History of the Next 50 Years by Richard Watson (Paperback - 10 Dec 2009)
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