The foresight model is implemented by Futurium, the online laboratory to co-develop visions and ideas that matter to its members. Futurium combines the informal character of social networks with the methodological rigour of foresights to engage stakeholders in the co-creation of the futures that we all want.
A sketch of the Futurium's architecture is shown in the following picture.
The architecture consists of the following components:
1. Front-end participatory tools
Participatory tools to facilitate the engagement of stakeholders and policy makers. Besides the standard tools available in most of the social network (e.g. blogs, polls, content subscription, update notification, messaging, creation of groups,…), Futurium's participatory tools offer a number of special features to support the participatory foresight:
- Co-creation (wiki) of futures, i.e. visions and long lasting trends. Each future can be expressed in any form or style; however, to ease comparing futures and extract knowledge from futurium, it is advised to draw futures using one of the suggested styles, i.e. essay or narrative. Futures are annotated with semantic information that allows their retrieval, categorisation and linking to other futures.
- Voting of future according to: 1) desirability (how much an individual wants a future to become reality), and 2) likelihood (probability that a future will materialise or will continue in case it is already an established trend).
- Co-creation (wiki) of policies, i.e. a set of objectives and actions underpinning a chosen future. Policies are annotated with semantic information that allows their retrieval, categorisation and linking to other policies. Policies can also be linked to the futures they are designed to implement.
- Voting of policies according to: 1) impact (the effects/consequences the policy would have, if implemented); 2) support (the actual support given to a particular policy, i.e. he overall aggregated value judgement: “like it!” or “hate it!”)
- Feeding and curating a library of web resources, including scientific papers, foresight reports, etc. Library entries are annotated with semantic information that allows their retrieval and categorisation, linking to policies and futures.
- Providing evidence to the futures and policies: library entries can be used to give scientific evidence to policies and futures just like bibliographic references in a book or article.
- Debating about futures just like in an online forum, webinar or online conversation tool
Furthermore, at a later stage of implementation, the front-end participatory tools will provide support to organise brainstorming event, including registration, sharing of background information and drawing of mind maps and reports.
2. Knowledge harvesting tools for both policy makers and stakeholders
Knowledge harvesting tools integrate basic statistical functions with data mining, modelling and simulation tools. Examples of knowledge mining tools include:
- association rules (to understand complex dependencies among variables);
- text mining tools (for instance to induce semantic structures on raw textual data available in blogs and forums);
- visual analytics tools to render meaningful visualisations of data for the stakeholders and the policy makers.
The extracted kowledge is anonymous (i.e. it does not include users information) and simmetric (i.e. access is ensured to both policy makers and stakeholders). This is a key feature of Futurium.
Knowledge harvesting tools will be made available to all once a critical mass of information is gathered.
More advanced tools will be implemented during the late development stages of the Futuriumt. Those include: tools for crawling information from social networks and tools to embed real-world data into Futurium to strenghthen the evidence base.
The development of futurium is an open and incremental process. If you are interest to contribute, please send an email to: Franco.Accordino@ec.europa.eu.