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Predicting the Future, at the Library


The New York Public Library. Image ID: 805986

Since my early childhood, I loved going to the library. There were so many strange books, some written in other languages, with pictures, diagrams and magazines with glossy photos of people in far-away lands, living exciting lives.

My childhood seemed so problematic, so mundane and regardless of what I thought or did, tomorrow would come and go...

Aerodrome of the future. Image ID: 407539

Every day brings us all a little closer, but to what? The books, magazines, movies and television of the day often depict two worlds, two evolving futures.

Often while daydreaming of the future, we can not fully begin to comprehend the shapes in the mist. Though we all try to envision our future, and consider the possibilities the future remains a ponderous mystery...

Under the weight of German reprisals against London, huge fires broke out in the British capital, which at night showed German pilots the way to their destination. Here the Parliament buildings stand out against the fiery glow of the night sky. Image ID:3971647

One future I envisioned was filled with jet-packs, flying cars like the cartoon The Jetsons. Tri-corders, phasers, replicators, moving sidewalks, a world filled with Star Trek gadgets and ample possibilities. A world filled with understanding and respect, the world that Kennedy, King and John Lennon spoke, preached and sang.

The other future, one cloaked in hopelessness, shrouded in a toxic environment, ruled by fear and totalitarianism, a future as familiar as night itself. The other future, without light, filled with crime and unemployment.

Le lion. Image ID: 1108690

In the library, the darkness and fog begins to lift, the past makes itself more present. The future begins to open up... understanding can be built...

And so I humbly say, "Go to the library... You can see the future and it can be great!"

Quite probably there are so many futures, we can't imagine. There are micro and macro futures, built and evolving from small and large choices we make, both singularly and collectively.

Manchester University robot. Image ID: 407661
Isaac Newton. Image ID: 1708037

When you're a child, the future can seem quite large. Many tomorrows are built upon today, and of course many tomorrows are often not built at all.

Here's some things to think about that helped me frame things, and maybe help you.

Read about the past, to learn about the future. Sir Issac Newton was known for the quote, "If I have seen further it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants," or in Latin, "nani gigantum humeris insidentes."

Let those who have traveled before you teach. If you're receptive to those lessons, you might learn.

Some resources I have consulted:


The Extreme Future: The Top Trends That Will Reshape The World For The Next 5, 10, And 20 Years by James Canton

Where's My Jetpack? A Guide To The Amazing Science Fiction Future That Never Arrived by Daniel H. Wilson

The Rough Guide To The Future by Jon Turney

Subject areas of possible interest:

Articles and Magazines

"32 Innovations That Will Change Your Tomorrow." June 3, 2012. The New York Times.

"The Innovators Who Are Rocking The World." December 2012. Smithsonian Magazine.


Economic forecasting -- Periodicals.


Information Booths - Futuristic booth, Digital ID 1675851, New York Public Library World Future Society
7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 450
Bethesda, Maryland 20814

In the library you can learn, and find your own answers and your own path.

The Liberal Arts, the original seven medieval paths of knowledge were divided into distinct areas of study.

The Trivium ("the three roads") and the Quadrivium ("the four roads").

The Trivium consisted of: Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric.

The Quadrivium consisted of:

Arithmetic -- Numbers in itself
Astronomy or Cosmology -- Numbers in space and in time.
Geometry -- Numbers in space.
Music, Harmonics, or Tuning Theory -- Numbers in time.

Access Credo Reference for more.

View of the Capitol and Forum at the time of the emperors. Image ID: 1624873

If you don't like the future you see, build one in it's place, and if you don't see a title in our catalog, please suggest it.

Try new things, you'll learn about limitations and strengths, so read, act, imagine and do good work!


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

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