Ise Jingu, half-life of knowledge, and recursive islands

July 10, 2021

Welcome to this 21st issue of our newsletter “Weak Signals and other Trends”. Each week, I sift through hundreds of sources of inspiration to track where we’re heading. We discuss those trends and signals every other  Saturday at 9am EST on Clubhouse.

You can subscribe to this newsletter here to get it directly by mail. As we all need to recharge batteries, this newsletter will move to a bi-monthly frequency starting in July and for the summer:

This is what I noticed this week, thank you for reading and sharing this newsletter to those who look into the future.


Strategic blindspots

Blindspots are biases that can lead companies to underestimate future risks or fail to take advantage of emerging opportunities. We highlight in this sections illustrations of such missed opportunities as well as what happens when you can think sideways.

Unknown knowns. The Miami Building Collapse and Humanity’s Tragic Fight for the Future. The half-life of knowledge. How Twitter users can generate better ideas. Learning on the last mile: how an “unqualified” 27-year-old Zimbabwean teacher created a top tutoring academy on WhatsApp. America has eight parking spaces for every car. Sometimes, paying attention means we see the world less clearly. Clothes that last: a collection of unisex clothes that expand to fit the wearer. Kodagu teacher builds treehouse classroom to overcome patchy internet. Changing radiation limits ( linked to changing assumptions…).

We have scheduled the dates for our “Strategic Blindspots” course which will take place in an hybrid format in the fall (in classroom for fully vaccinated participants - online option for the others).

Competitive Intelligence

Echo dots stores your data even after you reset them. A microcontroller search tool. Neeva is an ad-free search alternative from ex-Googlers. Quants turn to machine learning to unlock private data. A primer for private company research.


Our future

The rise of euphoric beverages. Meet the World Economic Forum's Technology Pioneers of 2021. In Germany, the real-life plan to use novels to predict the next war. What if biohackers injected themselves with mRNA? What are we going to wear? How consumers plan to shop past Covid. Attention recession. The potential stickiness of pandemic-induced behavior changes in the United States. Power of Tik-Tok. Facebook and assisted shopping. Are advertisers coming for your dreams? Remote neurological examinations.


Weak signals

Weak signals are indicators of a change, a trend or an emerging risk that might become significant for the future. They allow us to run hypothesis, expand our thinking, and challenge assumptions. How will you interpret those in your industry or field of expertise?

Youtube theater will be a new 6,000-seat life entertainment arena. The big tuna sandwich lawsuit. This app shows pedestrians the shadiest walking route on hot days. The Chinese content farms behind TikTok. The Nelk Boys. An App That Helps You Get Your Stuff Back From Your Ex. What’s with area codes? Renters Could Collect Home Down-Payment Points With Credit Card. Movable, floatable housing. The relatives frozen in time on Google Street View. Telfar Is Designing Liberia's Olympic Uniforms.

Join us to discuss those trends and signals every other Saturday in the summer at 9am EST on Clubhouse (we’re on this week!). We have a panel of futurists that illustrate what those signals might mean, and an enlightened group of curious minds in the room (an average of 250 participants join each week).

On our radar

In this section, I will share some of the content I come across as I work on specific mandates for our clients. This is what I worked on this week:

Unless you have been living in a deserted island the past few weeks, it has been hard to miss the phenomenal illustration of climate change. Here are a few signals: This app shows pedestrians the shadiest walking route on hot days. Oregon’s buckled roads and melted cables. Has climate change hurt or helped farmers ? Hotter than the human body can handle.

I am working on a training program for a client’s HR team on the new workplace: Microsoft issues its new Future of Work report. Noise and worker productivity. Will Holograms Become Incorporated In The Workplace? Hiring for creators has increased 489,000% since 2016. Remote work is the new signing bonus.

Our consulting engagements can be found here.

Hodgepodge discovery

Articles for the curious mind as you like to cross over to new fields:

The impossible briefs (interplanetary football anyone?). A map of mathematics. The Method of Loci: Build Your Memory Palace. The Alt-Tour, a self supported Tour de France. Poignant: Marking time. Chess and politics. How ancient people fell in love with bread, beer and other carbs. Industrialization increased the number of objects and thus the colors we can name.” ( see also why it took us thousands of years to see the color violet)  Cities and modes of conduct. Storytelling and Narrative Anthropology.

This article really got my attention this week about knowledge transfer: Ise Jingu and the pyramid of enabling technologies.

… the most important technology at Jingu is social - it’s the transfer of skills and techniques from one generation to the next, ensuring the temples and artifacts can continue to be reproduced accurately. This sort of knowledge is difficult to document - it exists as reflexes and muscle movements that are beyond the reach of language, or as decisions that are so context and environment dependent that it’s infeasible to explain them.

I like to learn new words. This week, I discovered recursive islands.


Feeling Good

An archeologist stores historical landscapes (in French). Dusttodigital archives forgotten sounds. A beach nearby. Where Gladiators Prepared for Battle. What can I do with those lego bricks? Operation nightwatch. Turning doodles into photos. Concert roulette.

Did you learn something today? Share your favorite issues of the newsletter, or send friends - or random strangers…

Share Weak signals and other trends

And do not miss the next issue:

Contact me at Competia with your feedback or ideas. Thank you for reading.