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Technological forecasting

and scenarios matter


Research into the use of information and
communication technology in the home
environment in 2010
H. Bouwman and P. van der Duin
H. Bouwman (H.Bouwman@tbm.tudelft.nl) is Assistant Professor in the Information and Communication Technology Department
and P. van der Duin (p.vanderduin@tbm.tudelft.nl) is a Research Fellow in the Technology, Strategy and Entrepreneurship
Department, both at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands.

Keywords Forecasting, Technology led strategy, Information, 1. Introduction

I
Communication, Development nformation and communication technology (ICT) plays an
important role in our society. Technologies are
Abstract Information and communication technology (ICT) is
increasingly being used in the home environment, making it a developing at a fast pace and will increasingly influence
very important and interesting research topic for communication our lives in the near future. No company, entrepreneur,
scientists. Future developments will influence the way and the media company, school or hospital can do without
extent to which ICT will be used in the home environment and computers. These computers are more and more linked by
therefore the way people look for information, communicate, private or public networks. In households in particular, ICT,
make use of entertainment services and carry out transactions. such as new multimedia-enabled mobile phones, digital
However, it is still very difficult to make meaningful and accurate televisions and PCs are being used with comparatively little
forecasts with regard to the possible future use and acceptance knowledge on the part of the scientific community as to how
of ICT in people’s homes. Important reasons are, for example,
they are being used, who has access to them and what the
that more and more market parties are involved in the
development of innovative ICT products and services. This
effects and consequences are with regard to social and
makes developments more complex and the outcomes more media behaviour. The PC and its portable variety the laptop
uncertain. Furthermore, consumers play an important role in the computer occupy an important place in everyday life, not
development of new ICT-based information, communication, only as far as the working environment is concerned, but also
transaction and entertainment services. Since a precise with regard to leisure, i.e. computer games, access to
prediction of the possible use of ICT in domestic environments archives of television programmes, downloading mp3 ± and
in 2010 is hard to make, other methods of futures research must dvd ± files. Viewers can use an intelligent box (the set-top
be used. Combining technological forecasting with scenario box) to access interactive digital information using their
thinking is such a research method, whereon, technological
television sets. The telephone has evolved from a simple
forecasting shows the major trends in the specific technology
apparatus in the hall into something that is apparently so
domain, while scenarios cover the possible future worlds. By
giving end-users a central place in these scenarios, the diversity
of the use and acceptance of innovative products and services
is captured. Thus, the addition of scenarios to the technology The Emerald Research Register for this journal is available at
trends gives insight into the possibilities (and impossibilities) of http://www.emeraldinsight.com/researchregister
new ICT-technologies and the way they may be used in the
The current issue and full text archive of this
home environment.
journal is available at
http://www.emeraldinsight.com/1463-6689.htm

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precious to a great number of people that they cannot scenarios usually starts with carrying out a technology, social
relinquish it for even a second and it is used to transmit, for and economic trend analysis. Quantitative and judgmental
instance, digital photos, ringtones and multimedia forecasting are often used to complement each other
messages. ICTs are not only visibly present in our houses, (Masini, 2002).
more often than not they are invisible. Washing machines, Choosing the right method is very important for the
ironing and sewing machines are becoming ever more practical and future use of the results of these kinds of study
intelligent and dependent on their software. In the future, (Galtung, 2003). Factors that might influence the choice of a
microwave ovens and refrigerators might have a display that specific method are: the level of uncertainty, the time horizon,
enables people to access relevant information from the the type of variables under analysis (Van der Duin et al.,
Internet, for instance about traffic jams, before they leave the 2001), participation, duration and costs (Miles et al., 2002),
house. and phase of innovation (Twiss, 1992). There is a certain
Research into these new technologies and the way they relationship between these various factors. For instance, a
might be accepted and used in the future is significant to certain correlation between the uncertainty with regard to
industry (telecom operators, service and both commercial technological developments and the accuracy of results
content providers and providers of content as part of an based on the use of specific prediction methods can be
e-commerce trajectory), for policy makers (both within observed (Ascher, 1978) (see Figure 1).
governments and companies) and end-users, i.e. consumers. If technologies are merely discussed in scientific panels,
In order for the research to be actually used by these actors, R&D environment and initial stages of the innovation
an analysis of potential technological developments in process, any prediction regarding their future adoption and
combination with knowledge with regard to the possible use is rather problematic. Once a product or service is
acceptance and usage is required. Communication scientists, introduced on the market, it is easier to gain a better insight
more than product and business developers, can play an in its potential by analysing the results of market surveys.
important role because they are in a position to translate Quantitative, econometric predictions can be drafted on the
lessons regarding the use and adoption of media into basis of data concerning the initial adoption and use. The
opportunities for new emerging technologies (Flichy, 1995). uncertainty, with regard to the product or service, is reduced
The objective of this paper is to illustrate how certain considerably, but it is as yet unclear whether a product will
futures research methods, in this case technological be warmly received by consumers and whether initial
forecasting in combination with scenario analysis, can be adoption trends among innovators will persist. The ``right’’
used to develop insight into the acceptance and use of ICT in prediction horizon varies depending on the industry under
the domestic environment in the year 2010. investigation (Van Doorn and Van Vught, 1978; Albright,
First, we will pay closer attention to the various methods 2002). Media industry has a comparatively short prediction
of futures research. Second, we will discuss two methods, horizon, while the oil industry uses a prediction horizon
technological forecasting and scenarios, in more detail, and exceeding 20 years.
show how these two methods can be combined to make
relevant and significant claims. Third, we present the results 2.1 Technological forecasting
of a technology-forecast analysis aimed at the adoption and Technological forecasting is an exploration of developments
use of ICT in the home environment in the year 2010. We will in the technology domain in which the possible applicability
present research conducted among experts which will serve
as a validation of relevant trends. We will then describe four Figure 1 Ð Relationship between the level of
possible scenarios for the year 2010 and show in what way uncertainty regarding technologies and the
the results of technological forecasting can be used in accuracy of predictions
scenarios to provide insight into what the adoption and use
of relevant technologies and services might be.

2. Methods of futures research


Futures research (e.g. scenario analysis, judgmental
forecasting, technological forecasting) can be defined as the
complete range of methods that can be used to look at the
future[1]. These methods can be categorized according to
their function (May, 1996), whether they are predictive,
non-predictive or a combination of both (Fowles, 1978) or
whether they can be used for operational, tactical or strategic
goals (Van der Duin et al., 2001). Different methods are
increasingly being combined (Masini, 2002). Building

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is assessed over a longer term (Coates et al., 2001). In other companies often address societal, cultural and political
words, technological forecasting can be used at the initial aspects of the future (and their impact on business) in their
stage of the innovation process, when decision makers and scenarios governments and other non-profit organisations
other people involved want to know what the important are also active in developing scenarios for developing policy
trends might be in the years to come. Technological (see, for instance, Eames et al., 2000).
forecasting is used in many cases, ranging from vision
2.3 Combining the two methods
development on the future to investment decisions with
Technological forecasting provides valuable input for
regard to emerging technologies. Technological forecasting
scenarios, as it is important to be aware of all the technical
offers a comprehensive view of the technologies already
possibilities when constructing scenarios (Coates et al.,
available, of emerging technologies and of the way these
2001). The ``completeness’’ criterion has the advantage that
technologies influence or substitute each other (Porter et al.,
on the one hand scenarios present accurate pictures of the
1991). A disadvantage of technology explorations has to do
technical possibilities, while on the other hand making it clear
with the fact that they often use long-term time horizons,
why it is that certain technologies have a greater chance of
resulting in an increased level of uncertainty and a
becoming successful than others. By giving the human
corresponding low level of accuracy when it comes to the
factor a prominent place in the scenarios, technology is
predictions being made. Scenarios are generally considered
given a ``face’’, which allows us to make it clear what services
good alternatives to technological forecasting.
will be used in the future. In our vision, technology is nothing
2.2 Scenarios more than an ``enabler’’ and it is only when technologies fit
People who use scenarios assume that it is impossible to the needs and attitudes of consumers that they can be
make straightforward predictions and that it is wise to picture incorporated into a clear picture of the future.
various alternative futures. Scenarios are expectations The choice in favour of a particular method to formulate
regarding possible futures that provide insight into the way predictions regarding the adoption and use of ICT is
the future may develop based on clearly defined determined by the development stage of a given technology.
assumptions concerning the relationship between relevant When looking at the year 2010, the only thing we can say for
developments. Usually, these relevant developments are sure is that the products and services that will be used in
based on input from other methods of futures research, such households by that time are now either in their start-up phase
as, for instance, trend analysis. Relevant trends serve as the or even in the embryonic stage of their development.
primary axes along which the alternative scenarios are Between a technology, i.e. the ``bare’’ knowledge that it is
constructed. A well-carried-out scenario study addresses available in a conceptual or experimental format in
criteria such as plausibility (scenarios are not science fiction), universities or R&D laboratories, and a service that a large
consistency (prevent combining mutually incompatible number of people will utilize on a daily basis, is a world of
trends), completeness (scenarios are more than a variation difference and an ocean of time. Technology explorations
on a single theme) and the validity of the underlying show us how the technology as such is developing, but it
assumptions (Van der Heijden, 1996). Scenario thinking offers much less information regarding its possible
broadens people’s horizon by showing them alternatives and applications. An example is UMTS, the third generation (3G)
allowing them to rehearse and learn from the future mobile communication. At the moment we can make
(Schwartz, 1991; Godet, 2000; Masini and Vasquez, 2000). reasonably accurate predictions as to in which period this
Scenarios can best be used in situations with high much-discussed technology will become available. It is less
uncertainty when managers or decision makers feel that the clear, however, what the explicit services are that will be
world is changing but are not sure in which direction. marketed on the basis of this technology (location-based or
Scenarios enhance their ability to anticipate possible future multimedia services), let alone how consumers will respond
developments that might affect their business. Scenarios to and adopt these services.
allow for multiple views regarding possible future To combine the two methods discussed above (at least)
developments (Godet, 2000; Wilson, 2000). two conditions need to be fulfilled (Van der Duin et al., 2000):
The scenario method is regarded as an instrument that (1) Technological forecasting and scenarios must have the
can assist decision makers very well in their decision-making same level of abstraction. When technological
process. Famous is the example of oil company Shell who forecasting focuses on the adoption and use of personal
were able to anticipate in the oil crisis of 1973 by also digital assistants (PDAs) it makes little sense to combine
including in their set of scenarios the possibility of a shortage it with the trend of globalisation because the two
of the supply of oil because of political tensions in the Middle phenomena have little in common. When we combine
East and the subsequent rise of the oil prices (Schwartz, PDAs with the need of consumers to be able to access
1991; Kleiner, 1996). Ringland (1998) also gives a list of information ``anywhere, anyplace’’ we can develop an
international companies who have benefited from using idea as to how this trend might affect the use and shape
scenarios in developing plans for the future. Although private of PDAs.

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(2) Technological forecasting and scenarios must have the adoption and use behaviour, organised to validate the major
same unit of analysis. When scenarios address the trends.
possible political future of a country and when they are
3.1 Desk research
based on scenario axes ``more vs less freedom’’ and
Fundamental technological developments, often in the field
``centralisation vs decentralisation of political power’’ it
of physics, electronics and microelectronics, facilitate
will not be possible to apply them to the use of new
products and services that can be accessed and used by
mobile devices.
everyone, independent of carrier, location and time. At the
If both conditions are met, the relationship between hardware level key developments are digitisation, increased
technological forecasting and scenarios can be interpreted processing power, microelectronics, reduced use of energy,
as follows. Scenario development starts where technological miniaturisation, technical integration and the use of sensors.
forecasting ends. Technological forecasting is an At the software level the focus is on compression techniques,
extrapolation of developments that begin at some point in increased intelligence, agent technology, security and an
the past (the line running diagonally from ``2000’’). We improved interface between man and machine (Bouwman et
assume that these developments will continue for some time al., 2000).
into the future (the dotted line). However, after a certain Hardware and peripheral equipment will become
length of time it becomes impossible to extend the line (or increasingly interchangeable. TV, PC and telephone will follow
development) because there is too much uncertainty (see their own specific paths towards a multimedia and even VR-
also Porter et al., 1996, p. 50). From this point onwards, station (Biocca and Levy, 1995). Eventually the equipment will
scenarios (the four diverging lines) can be used to explore be characterised especially by its portability and the
the future. The horizontal line shows that for different possibility to access both speech and moving images.
variables the moment at which there is too much uncertainty Dependence on broadband (mobile) data communication
to extrapolate may vary. For example, forecasts concerning networks will increase (Anderson et al., 2002).
the birth rate are usually relatively accurate for a time horizon As far as networks are concerned, we see a development
of 15 years, whereas it becomes increasingly difficult to towards ever-increasing capacity within the transportation
make accurate predictions concerning the number of mobile network. The consumer is more interested in the access
telephones beyond a two-year time frame (Figure 2). network. There, we find a continuing increase in choice and
Thus far we have described how we deal with flexibility. Consumers wanting direct access to the
technological forecasting and scenarios. In the next section telecommunication infrastructure have at their disposal a
we will illustrate how we collected the data we used to variety of equipment that is linked to a specific network, be it
develop technology forecasts and discuss the main results. the telephone network, the cable network or the mobile
telephone network. The link between equipment and the type
3. Technological forecasting for 2010 of network being used becomes ever less obvious. The
We collected data for technological forecasting with regard telephone apparatus can be connected to a telephone line, a
to ICT in households through: desk research on cable, or a data communication network. The network used
developments in technological domain; and brainstorm to access a service will no longer automatically be the
sessions with selected experts in the fields of technology and delivery network. This provides opportunities for intermediary
communication, with an emphasis on expertise regarding network management services. Through these services it will
be possible, for example, to order a movie by telephone, to
have it delivered through xDSL at a local server for later
Figure 2 Ð Combining technological
forecasting and scenarios in time viewing, or directly via optical fibre cables for direct
consumption (Bouwman et al., 2000).
The next generation of these services will be more intuitive
and there will be a trend towards real hypermedia. This
intuitive character is expressed in all forms of usage
(Dertouzous, 1997). Information services will be
characterised by their multimedia nature. People will no
longer look for textual information, but they will visit virtual
reality sites and communities. The abundance of information
produces selection mechanisms such as push media in
combination with highly improved intelligent agents that
increasingly use individual and collective user profiles (Brown
and Duguid, 2000; Dertouzous, 2001; Kurzweil, 1999).
Communication services develop from speech-oriented
systems into systems where people can see one another

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``real time’’. In addition, communication services will focus intelligence in networks, facilitated by a central in-house
more on the management of communication flows and on server, and appliances.
intelligent ways to solve coordination problems (Doherty and As far as the man-machine interface is concerned,
Miller, 2000). Transaction services will play an increasingly experts expect a trend towards increased intelligence,
important role and by the year 2010 will have a variety of whereby information and communication interfaces will be
forms: e-commerce, m-commerce, and c-commerce and less visible. System interfaces are increasingly being built
communication channels will be adapted to user needs into existing appliances (embedded systems) and adapted
depending on the phase in the transaction process. to people’s communication habits. Past behaviour will help
Entertainment services will, to a large degree, have acquired determine the choices that are being offered. ICT is
the characteristics of personalised and individualised integrated in a natural interface. Image, speech, pointing,
etc. are important elements in this process, along with agent
interactive game-like services. Broadcast service will, to a
technologies.
certain extent, be replaced by on-demand services.
3.4 ICT in 2010
3.2 Brainstorm
The participants expect PDA-like equipment, as well as
The results of the technology forecast were validated in
built-in intelligence and communication possibilities in
several brainstorm sessions. These brainstorm sessions
existing appliances, to play a significant role in household
were supported by an electronic group decision support
use. PDAs will serve as a medium for telephony, agenda,
system. In all, 28 experts took part. They were selected to
carrier of electronic money and authentication unit for all
guarantee a diversity of perspectives, and thus to promote
kinds of different access systems. In other words, all things
the independence, accuracy and validity of the results. The that are convenient to carry around will be incorporated into a
experts came from the business community, the scientific single electronic PDA-like device. The most advanced form is
community and from user groups such as the elderly, the incorporation of this type of system in clothing, so-called
immigrants and artists. wearables. These are clothes with stimulators and sensors,
The participants were presented with the following three and smart coats that can, for example, regulate the
questions with regard to a ten-year time span: temperature. These will be part of the person area network
(1) What are the main underlying technologies that will (PAN or 4 G mobile networks).
determine the use of ICT? Appliances already being used in the house will more and
(2) What technologies in the area of ICT will we find in the more be equipped with intelligence. The front door will only
domestic environment? open after identification and authentication. Monitoring,
(3) What services will people use in their domestic security and sensing systems will be a part of the living
environment? environment. The heating and lighting units will be remote-
3.3 Fundamental technological trends controlled. Various systems will be integrated through home
Personalisation is important: technologies and services in networks. The alarm clock will send a signal to the water
the area of ICT are increasingly geared towards individual cooker or coffee machine. Intelligent fridges and washing
machines will be monitored at a distance and if necessary
demands. The architecture of systems can be increasingly
new software will be downloaded to the machines. Intelligent
attributed to individual wishes and needs, especially since
toilet bowls will be able to give advice on healthy life styles on
standardised elements offer the user greater possibilities to
the basis of bio-chemical analysis.
arrange the system according to his wishes. Users
Many of the developments surrounding TV and PC
themselves have more and more control over the way
assume that the difference between the 3ft and 10ft space
services are being accessed. Various technologies allow
will erode, the result of which will be individualised screen
users to access the same service and the user’s specific machines. Nevertheless, there are generic developments, for
context will determine which is the preferred technology. instance TVs and PCs the size of a watch and separate
Wireless and mobile systems are becoming increasingly developments for the PC and TV. With regard to 3ft space
important. Developments can only be slowed down by a lack appliances the experts believe that PCs with communication
of radio spectrum, but that is primarily a political issue. Much functionality will be widely accepted in 2010. IP-telephony,
is expected, especially from the third and fourth generation GroupWare systems, videoconferencing will be standard PC
mobile systems (UMTS also indicated as 3G and beyond). add-ons. The PC interface will be based more on speech,
It is expected that in-home data communication networks, visualisation and the ability to share information in real time.
whether or not based on wireless techniques, will play an The interface has a multi-functionally layered structure
increasingly important role within the domestic environment designed to match the user’s experience. This development
as well. It will be important to link applications through that can be compared to the levels already found in
networks. There will be a convergence of ICT and household computer games. The PC will thus become a learning
appliances, which is partly made possible by the increasing system adapting itself to the user.

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In terms of the 10ft space, television technology, the onto the market, while others yet are still in an early R&D
experts predict a trend towards flat and large screens and phase. Nevertheless, it is important to see how these trends
screens that suggest depth. Where traditional television is can be incorporated into user scenarios, either to assess the
concerned, it is all about improvement of the display quality, viability of these technologies or to assess the way users are
to as high a level of quality as is possible and the going to reinvent these technologies and model them to their
improvement of the natural character of sound. Needless to own preferences. Before we can integrate technological
say, TV allows for various online and on-demand services, forecasting with the scenarios, the first question we have to
received through a so-called multimedia socket. answer is what the use of ICT in the domestic environment
For the control of modern television sets, things like smart will look like in 2010.
rooms, where the user’s movements can be analysed and
interpreted (intelligent gesture), and speech recognition are 4. Scenarios for 2010
envisaged. Furthermore, programme preferences are To answer the question from the last sentence from section
analysed and used as a basis for suggestions. 3.5 we will use a set of scenarios that have been developed
3.5 Domestic work and care in 2010 by KPN Research[2] in 2000 (Van der Duin, 2000). Although
In terms of domestic work, much is expected of agent the scenarios originally had a time horizon up to 2005,
technologies, for example an automatically produced experience with other scenarios in all kinds of projects for
shopping list. The agent technologies can play a role, for KPN showed that the basic assumptions and scenario axis
instance, in budget control and in developing an efficient and could also be applied to 2010. Below we show how we have
effective purchasing policy. Based on the items available built the scenarios by describing briefly each step in this
certain recipes may be suggested. The experts do point out, building process. This building process is partly based on
however, that shopping also has a social side. Children, sick Schwartz (1991) and Van der Heijden (1996).
people and animals can increasingly be cared for from a The first step, after formulating the main question for the
distance by using advanced communication systems. It is scenarios as introduced in the section above, is to compile a
already possible to monitor children through remote list of possible actors and factors that influence the outcome
observation. As far as health care is concerned, all kinds of of this question. To do this, we can use the information we
support and tele-care are expected. One can consult one’s have obtained from technological forecasting.
physician from a distance, possibly using videoconferencing Actors are, for instance, producers of peripheral
and sensor-aided remote monitoring. The experts see equipment, service and content providers, government and
possibilities in the area of monitoring systems, intelligent other legislative bodies, etc. Note that this selection does not
systems for the distribution of medication and so on. Much is include end-users of ICT. When conducting a scenario
also expected of the use of electronic patient files in analysis, we want to find out what impact external forces
combination with administration. In all these cases, the have on the individual user and his or her communication
technology already exists, but the industry, as yet, does not behaviour. Consequently, the scenarios serve as a way to
seem to be able to organise these types of applications. look ``outside-in’’, rather than ``inside-out’’, where the user is
In general, we can say that information and being projected in a possible or predicted future.
communication services will make it possible to coordinate Relevant factors are technological developments such as
domestic services from a distance, but also to outsource the convergence of technologies, economic developments
them. Household agenda management is another possible such as growing inflation (macro-level), mergers and take-
application, as is home management (managing the overs (meso-level) and companies’ distribution strategies
processes in homes). Obviously, the end-user has to be in a (micro-level), socio-cultural trends such as ageing, etc.
position to configure these kinds of services. At a very small The second step is to come up with a classification of
scale, we are talking about penny-tags (devices designed to factors in such a way that a ``scenario framework’’ is created.
determine the location of things on the basis of miniature We can do this by determining the level of uncertainty for
electronics that indicate where certain items are located). every trend on the one hand and the impact it has on the
In general it can be concluded that ICT is going to play an central question. By crossing the two extremes of the two
increasingly important role. The traditional distinction trends with the highest level of uncertainty and the largest
between telephone, television and PC and the underlying impact we will produce a coordinate system with four
infrastructure is going to blur and that is going to affect quadrants (Van der Heijden, 1996).
consumer behaviour in general, but it will also affect more The third step is filling in the four quadrants in the
specifically the way people are going to deal with media. scenario. This involves more than merely listing a number of
Media are going to be an integral part of people’s behaviour trends and indicating the direction in which they are heading.
and will be less controlled by media and content providers. It is important to establish a so-called ``scenario logic’’. This
Some of the technologies, as we mentioned earlier, are can be seen as the rationale behind the scenario. Not only
already available, others are at the brink of being introduced will the scenario describe a path from the present to the

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future, but it will also describe the dynamics of the final to established social patterns. They are even less
situation. It can be seen as a causal diagram in which the prepared to make any kind of sacrifice for others.
axes serve as important starting variables on the basis of ``Flexibility’’ and ``mobility’’ are the catchwords. Life is all
which the status and direction of other variables and trends about keeping on the move and it unfolds against the
are determined. background of a booming economy. These are the
The final step involves the perfection of the scenario’s ``roaring 2000s’’, with economic growth and stock
stories and a further description of the effects of these stories exchange listings exceeding all conceivable limits. The
on our central question, what the use of ICT in the domestic globalisation of the economy is taking place at
environment will look like in 2010. breakneck speed. Companies consist of dynamic,
In the case of the KPN scenarios we ended up with the independent networks.
following axes (see Figure 3): (2) Budget. In 2010, the European economy is facing
& Individual vs collective. The difference between problems. The economic bubble has burst, resulting in a
individualists and collectivists lies in the degree to which period of economic and social decay. Many companies
they let their own interests prevail above those of the have gone bankrupt and the housing market has
group to which they belong. Individualists have a strong collapsed. As a result, economic growth is far more
consciousness of self and put their own needs first sluggish than it was in the 1990s. People work relatively
whenever possible without giving much thought to the hard at highly irregular hours in an attempt to turn the
group’s needs. tide. With hard work, thriftiness and an occasional lucky
Collectivists on the other hand are more conscious of break, most people manage to keep their heads above
the people around them, and strive to achieve a water. Money is a constant worry. The most striking
harmonious balance between individual and collective aspect of this scenario is people’s extreme price-
interests. They feel inextricably involved in broader social consciousness, with everyone attempting to squeeze
issues, and this is reflected in their interest in what
the most out of every last penny. In this world, certain
happens to other people.
traits are crucial, such as the ability to calculate rapidly
& Active vs passive. The difference between active and
and accurately, to be assertive during negotiations, and
passive people lies in the degree to which they explore
to network successfully. An extensive network of
and change their environment rather than conform to
contacts has enabled people to establish and maintain
external influences. Passive people, on the other hand,
a system of mutual support, which has all the features of
tend to conform to external influences and values. They
an informal economy.
simply wait for things to happen and suppress their
(3) Comfort. The keywords to describe this scenario in 2010
internal impulses.
are ``comfort’’ and ``usefulness’’. Its catchwords are
The results of this is the construction of four scenarios for ``reduced complexity’’, ``time saving’’ and
2010 which are summarised below (Van der Duin et al., ``rationalisation’’. After the turn of the century, society
1999): responded to an increasingly complex world by
(1) Adventure. The ``adventure’’ scenario of 2010 is based expressing a collective desire for control and comfort.
on egocentric fun-lovers that, above all, crave more Consumers no longer want to choose from a whole
excitement, variety and pleasure in their lives. They want range of options, but want companies and organisations
to have a good time with lots of thrills. Life is a fairy tale to provide products and services that are fully tailored to
and society is the theme park where it is played out. their needs. The most popular organisations are those
Everyone is shamelessly selfish and unwilling to conform that provide a sound service and do the thinking for their
customers. Resolving day-to-day problems, providing
Figure 3 Ð Scenario framework security, dealing with problems for consumers; these are
the services that rate high on the busy consumer’s list of
priorities. Consumers are extremely demanding and
want to be waited on hand and foot. High quality and
service at affordable prices are key requirements.
(4) Durable. This scenario of 2010 focuses on the quality of
life and is opposed to the idea that progress usually
means ``more’’. People are tired of innovations and have
slotted into a new mindset, giving them more time to
enjoy nature and each other. Success is no longer
measured according to income and possessions, but to
well-being and social behaviour. Rejecting the constant
desire for more has become a valued way of thinking.

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People no longer want to be manipulated by advertising (2) Budget. Owing to bad economic times people are not
and promotional campaigns. Consumerism is less very eager to adopt all kinds of new technology so the
rampant. More and more people feel it is time to good old TV set is still one of the most important sources
re-examine the consumer society. They no longer want to of entertainment in this scenario. Screens have almost
be pushed, but want to live life at a slower pace. Peace the same size as ten years before and the remote control
and quiet are what counts, not joining in the rat race. has gained some extra intelligence. People are not
prepared to invest a great deal of money in sets with
5. Combining technological forecasting with special features because they consider them to be
scenarios simple devices suited merely to transmit TV signals. TV
We will combine the results of the forecast regarding and VCR/DVD players as yet are not integrated, nor is TV
equipment, networks and services with the scenarios so that integrated with other devices such as the PC or
we can see to what extent the scenarios enrich technological telephone. Because people are mostly busy solving their
forecasting. For each scenario we will briefly describe what own problems they do not have a very broad social and
those ICT categories might look like after 2010 and how they cultural orientation: national programmes are more
might be used. popular than foreign ones. End-users are constantly
5.1 Equipment: TV making deliberate choices on what to spend money and
Currently many households have a stereo TV with teletext they, therefore, only want to pay for those channels that
connected to a VCR or DVD player. Technological they watch regularly. There is relatively little demand for
forecasting states that in 2010 there will be households exotic and interactive TV channels. TV is considered
which will have TVs with flat digital wide screens and built in amusement, and a way for people to forget their
set-top boxes. However, this forecast fails to give us any idea everyday worries, at a price they can afford.
about the (approximate) number of households where this (3) Comfort. As people consider all the various
will be the case, how this TV will be used and which role it will communication and information devices in their busy
play in the household. Combing the technological forecasts households too much of a nuisance, a device has been
with the four scenarios should give us more insight in developed that combines TV, VCR/DVD and PC. The
possible adoption and use patterns: result is a kind of central controlling unit that is used not
(1) Adventure. Since the ``adventure’’ scenario consists of only for watching TV but also for sending e-mails,
households (many of them single person households) video-mails, shopping, agenda coordination and
that have a very innovative attitude, an interactive digital domestic services such as regulating the in-house
TV is indeed a regular phenomenon. People’s homes temperature. The display screen more than ever before
are filled with TV screens and some already have TV with occupies a place at the centre of the household and it
ambient technology-type of services, that is to say that combines many functions of which saving time and
wherever they are in the house, the screens ``recognize’’ making the daily routine as easy as possible are two of
them and immediately start broadcasting their favourite the most important ones ± more important than
TV shows or give information regarding these watching television. Just as in the ``adventure’’ scenario
programmes. People who cannot afford the ambient there are TV screens in many places in the house. Most
technology, have intelligent agents programmed in their of them are nicely designed flat screens with easy user
TV set which keep them up to date about shows to interfaces (such as speech recognition), guaranteeing
come and provide links to other types of media. TV is no up-to-date information tailored to the user’s needs. And,
longer a large, fixed device situated only in people’s at last, the VCR/DVD player has become a device that
homes, they also watch TV on their mobile devices. everybody can control!
Satellites are very popular and watching the 6 o’clock (4) Durable. Watching TV is a family affair and parents try to
tango show broadcast in Argentina is just as normal as make sure that their children do not watch too much.
the 8 o’clock news provided by Dutch broadcasters. All Because many people value other things, such as
this does not imply that people in this scenario watch TV having many personal (and local) contacts, adults also
all evening, that would be too boring to them. Because try not to watch too much TV, as that may hinder those
of their busy lives they only watch selectively which also personal contacts. And if they do watch TV they do so in
means that the TV guide follows them and the a very deliberate way: information programmes are the
``adventurous’’ TV watcher decides which (by an most popular ones. Many TVs have ``filters’’, i.e. V-chips
intelligent agent) pre-selected programmes his TV will that prevent children from seeing pornographic and
show, making use of all kinds of new interactive and violent programmes, etc. An important function of the TV
digital services, such as recording live broadcasts is to provide background information regarding TV
simultaneously to ensure that the viewer does not miss programmes. Because people watch TV in a
a thing. conscientious way, it does not occupy a central place in

f o re s ig h t 5 , 4 2 0 0 3
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their homes, but is located somewhere in a corner so to pay more for that because they value the extra
that people who really want to watch have to make an comfort. Optical fibre has in many places substituted for
effort to do so. the copper wire because of the extra bandwidth that is
needed for all the information services and because of
5.2 Networks: local loop (telephony)
the fact that people can afford it.
Nowadays almost every household has a telephone
(4) Durable. Fear of radiation has had a negative impact on
connection (a copper wire). Technological forecasting
mobile communication as compared to fixed networks.
expects that in 2010 there will be a huge competition
People are trying to balance their digital and physical
between various fixed and mobile infrastructures and
communication. In addition, end-users pay a great deal
technologies with high capacity, ranging from telephone-
of attention to the health risk of their communication
based xDSL, through fibre-optic links for cable to broadband
device and connection. People are locally oriented, which
mobile services (3G and beyond). We will show that these
means that their mobility has remained roughly at the
technologies can be varied based on the four scenarios. For
same level. As a result mobile communication, already
each scenario we will describe shortly how those networks
having to deal with the problem of radiation, grows at a
and matching services might look after 2010:
relatively low rate, if at all. People are trying to balance
(1) Adventure. The competition between fixed and mobile
their professional and private activities. To avoid traffic
telephony is won by mobile (3G and beyond). All the
jams and unnecessary travelling, people increasingly
innovative ``adventurous’’ end-users just love 3G and its
work at home and to do so they need sufficient
services because of its huge bandwidth and flexibility,
bandwidth, not for amusement but for serious work.
which offer a wide range of possibilities regarding all kinds
of information services. 3G has become the dominant 5.3 Services: entertainment
mode of mobile communication (especially for business Nowadays, entertainment plays an important role in the
people and youngsters) and in the average household we diffusion of new products and services, mainly because it
see a lot of Wireless Local Loop (WLL) or Wireless LAN turns out that increasingly the early adopters are young
techniques. Rather than focusing on the quality of the people (Rogers, 1962) and they value entertainment more
services, end-users are very demanding in terms of the than other aspects such as functionality or user friendliness.
type and amount of services that these technologies allow Also, the entertainment industry is growing very fast
them to access. By using a variety of services, brought to (Howkins, 2001). Nevertheless, entertainment, for example,
them by all kinds of companies who looking for a market in the form of computer games or gambling, most of the time
niche, consumers can distinguish themselves from other is consumed on stand-alone machines or in a non-interactive
people. Mobile devices have really become a way of life to way, although in Korea the so-called PC-Bangs, where
which people are almost addicted. interactive networked games are played by groups of
(2) Budget. The development of network technologies is, to a youngsters, are very popular (Stewart and Park Choi, 2003).
large extent, determined by economic motives. People do Another development, often described as the ``experience
not feel that mobile has enough added value to warrant economy’’ (Pine and Gilmore, 1999) means that
paying more money. As a result the competition between entertainment is not only presented by companies as a
fixed and mobile is to a large degree decided in favour of service in itself but that it is also used as a way to sell other
fixed lines. Mobile turned out to be too expensive for products or services:
many people and the communication needs did not grow (1) Adventure. Because fun is one of the keywords in this
at the pace they were expected to at the start of the new scenario one can imagine that entertainment is of crucial
millennium. Most people settle for being reachable. importance! People are constantly looking for more and
People’s mobility did not grow all that much either, which new types of entertainment, such as gaming, to satisfy
meant that there was no great demand for mobile their fast-growing appetite for entertainment.
services. People are happy with their fixed copper lines Interactivity, personalisation and multimedia are
and have resisted the operator’s attempts to sell them necessary conditions and it would seem as though
new mobile services. They stick to 2 and 2.5G. people cannot get enough. Killer-apps of most new
(3) Comfort. The need of end-users for easy and high products and services contain a high amount of
quality communication connections has resulted in a entertainment and people are very fond of games that
situation whereby the competition between fixed and they can largely build themselves which means that
mobile has ended in a draw. End-users are quite content these products are to a much larger extent tailor-made.
with the combination of fixed and mobile communication Games are played to meet new people. Television is
and the easy-to-use services that combination makes considered a passive and boring medium. Although this
possible. The most important criteria for end-users are scenario does focus on the egocentric, games are often
high bandwidth and high quality (expressed in better played with and against other people; playing games on
reachability and less redundancy). They are also willing your own is considered dull. On the other hand,

f o re s i g h t 5 ,4 2 0 0 3
16
competing with others allows people to stand out respect to investment in technology rather than on what the
expressing their individuality. People do not play games development of a specific technology will look like. Adding
just in one place; because the ``need’’ to play games can detailed information concerning possible technological
come up anywhere, they want to have the possibility to developments enriches the scenario stories. Many scenarios
play games anywhere. This means that it is a common only contain a picture of, for instance, society at a particular
thing to see people playing interactive games on mobile point in the future. But it is very important for the scenarios to
devices in the streets and on the train. be plausible, so that it is also clear how, in this case, society
(2) Budget. In this scenario entertainment is seen as will develop between the present and that point in the future.
something that is synonymous with wasting money. The Technological forecasting can serve as a kind of roadmap
only purpose entertainment can serve is to forget the for the scenarios.
harsh reality for a few moments and to experience some As much as the scenarios are enriched by the use of
old-fashioned happiness. Entertainment ranks lowest as technological forecasting, they in turn acquire greater depth
a motive to buy after value for money and utility. As from the context provided by the scenarios, obtaining a more
entertainment is something of a taboo, not many people specified meaning or goal. Of course, technological
are seen enjoying it in public. Instead, they will do so in forecasting focuses mainly on technology and not so much
private. People prefer watching a soccer game on a pay- on its use (embodied in products and services) or on the
per-view basis to taking an expensive trip to a stadium. users themselves. Scenarios can give technological
Games are still being played the old-fashioned way and forecasting a ``face’’ by picturing possible future users and
Monopoly is still the most popular game (perhaps this the way they handle the products. Because technological
has something to do with the suggestion of being rich forecasting is being supplemented by a set of scenarios, the
and owning streets and houses). technology becomes more real and to a certain extent this
(3) Comfort. In this scenario entertainment is mainly viewed helps prevent the common mistake of making erroneous
from a family perspective. This means that, for instance, predictions. In other words, the forecast acquires a broader
entertaining games should not only be fun to play but perspective which makes it also more valuable for decision
should also have an educational value. Products and making.
services can have two (or more) functions Scenarios make it easier for decision makers to use
simultaneously, which saves time. In this respect it is technological forecasting in their decision-making processes.
important for the entertainment to have a certain level of Technological forecasting focuses exclusively on a single
quality, not only from an ethical point of view but also in outcome and often does not assess the risks and
the sense that entertainment should be more than just uncertainties surrounding a specific decision. In scenario
plain fun. Watching a television show should be a nice analysis it is common to use the concept of ``wind tunnelling’’,
family activity just as playing games on a TV set which that is to say, to test several decisions, for instance with regard
has integrated many PC functionalities. to the allocation of R&D budgets, product development
(4) Durable. In the durable scenario, entertainment is projects or corporate strategies, in different scenarios, and it
something which one does not enjoy on one’s own but can be used, for instance, by developers of peripheral
together with one’s friends, family, school or the equipment, like Philips or Ericsson. Scenario analysis allows
community to which one belongs. Entertainment should the robustness of a decision to be tested because a certain
have an educational or cultural value, allowing people to decision can be analysed in a number of scenarios. For
learn something about the world in which they live. instance, a reduction of investments in innovation would be a
Entertainment is seen as a way to communicate and very bad decision in the ``adventure’’ scenario because
establish contact with other people rather than a consumers value companies that constantly come up with
pleasant way to pass the time. Playing games on new products and services. In the ``budget’’ scenario this
modern mobile devices and PCs is not a goal in itself decision would yield better results. By assessing various
but is only considered worthwhile when it enhances the possible decisions in all the scenarios it becomes clear which
educational and entertainment value. idea is most likely to be successful in the various scenarios
and how uncertain specific decisions might be in the worlds
6. Conclusion and discussion depicted in possible scenarios. The scenarios can be used as
The main reason to combine technological forecasting and a tool to assess the risk of decisions and to determine under
scenarios is that this combination offers a number of what conditions certain decisions can have positive or
advantages over the isolated use of the two separate negative consequences for society, the business community
techniques. These advantages are linked to both techniques. as a whole or a specific company. In addition to helping us
By including specified technological developments the gain more insight into possible future developments in various
scenarios are given more detail. Most scenarios focus on the domains of our society, scenarios or scenario thinking can
use of technology or the attitudes companies adopt with help companies cope with uncertainty.

f o re s ig h t 5 , 4 2 0 0 3
17
Furthermore, by combining scenarios for different related in a situation of economic scarcity, which means that they do
technologies, such as peripheral equipment, networks and not have the economic and organisational resources to carry
entertainment services we can create a more coherent and out those broad and generalised strategies.
consistent picture of possible futures and indicate the
Notes
interdependencies between the various domains. Combined
with ``wind tunnelling’’, technological forecasting together with 1 In this article we use the term ``futures research’’. Other terms for

scenarios make a powerful decision-making tool. By applying looking at the future include: foresight, forecasting or futures

this tool to companies involved in media and communication studies. We prefer to use the term futures research because of its
we are able to show that the scenarios can have different comprehensive character. Foresight refers often only to looking at
consequences for those companies involved, not only in the future as carried out by and for governments; forecasting in
terms of their strategy and the competences they need to general refers to just predictive methods of looking at the future;
carry out that strategy but also with regard to the relationship and futures studies is often found in relation to specific topics such
to each other. For instance, in the ``adventure’’ scenario the as sustainability and green politics.
strategy of ``product leadership’’ is important for every 2 KPN Research was, until 2003, the R&D organisation of KPN, the
company but for a content provider that means renewing its Dutch incumbent telecom operator. Currently it is a department of
content as often as possible while a broadcasting company TNO, a Dutch research institute, and is called TNO Telecom.
constantly has to produce new TV shows, combining all the
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