The Edge asks an annual question each year (since 1998) to renowned thinkers, scientists, businessmen etc which always makes for fruitful, if slightly uneven, reading. In previous years, this has included "What’s your law?" and "What is your dangerous idea?". This year, it is "What are you optimistic about? Why?"
Some interesting people have been asked to provide answers, from Richard Dawkins to Brian Eno, from Steven Pinker to Clay Shirky, and from Cory Doctorow to Craig Venter. [their answers respectively, and massivly summarised, are: final scientific enlightenment, empowerment of people at grassroots, the decline of violence, evidence improving society, copyright openness, evidence-based decision making]. There’s lots more in there (often the ‘lesser-known’ names provide more interesting entries..), and more than I can write about, but worth a read as we start the New Year with hope and optimism.
A related future-thinking exercise has been going on on the WorldChanging blog, as they asked many of their contributors to respond to "Looking towards 2007: What’s Next?". There are some interesting social entrepreneur-related ones here (Jim Fruchterman, David Bornstein) but what stood out for me was that several of them basically said that there are enough solutions/inventions and certainly enough writing about them; we need to map them and use them. Or as Jeremy Faludi puts it, "in a nutshell, 2007 needs follow-through". Turning awareness into action: the strapline for 2007.