Predicting the future of things is sorta hit and miss. Consider the future-think article What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years from a 1900 edition of the Ladies Home Journal. Written by railroad engineer John Elfreth Watkins, Jr., the article offers some spectacularly accurate predictions. To whit:
“Man will see around the world. Persons and things of all kinds will be brought within focus of cameras connected electrically with screens at opposite ends of circuits, thousands of miles at a span… The instrument bringing these distant scenes to the very doors of people will be connected with a giant telephone apparatus…”
To be fair, Mr. Watkins also posited that by now, “There will be no wild animals except in menageries.” How sad that would be!
Predictions, both happy and sad, are a perennial game. Of late, I’ve become aware of a rising meme in the prediction game - predicting the jobs of the future. Mark Laotian, in his book When the Boomers Bail: A Community Economic Survival Guide, reveals that
“… eighty percent of the jobs you will have in the future don’t even exist yet.”
Conditions are ripe for the future-casting of careers.
The thinking goes that digital disruption in virtually every field will yield new strange vocations. For example, this Mashable piece predicts our children’ children may toil as Nostalgists, Rewilders, or Robot Counsellors.
If I may, I would like to join the fray with a prediction of my own. I believe the job I have now - Director of Experience Strategy - may in fact be a job of the future. My job is an extension of what I’ll call the ‘imagination professions.’ These include vocations in the arts, design, consulting, and other creative, thought-forward services. Experience Strategy (ExS) is one of these, one that is uniquely situated in the digital realm.
On any given day, doing Experience Strategy at Neologic might entail envisioning novel and useful digital experiences of our own (as with Poetry for Robots or Cornbread) or workshopping with a client to discover the emotional and sociological seeds of their business aspirations and conceiving the shape of their digital presence accordingly. With ExS in our tool set, Neologic offers clients the advantage of a thorough (and essential!) broad-view preproduction engagement - our clients always measure twice. Also, I work as a team member on all our UX work, ensuring that granular interface decisions align with the larger story discovered in our client workshops.
In short, my job is to bring the big picture to the party. The ExS practitioner connects thinking from the humanities, psychology, social science, and liberal arts to the design and build cycle.
As such, this ‘job of the future now’ has also been predicted by sages past. Norman Cousins, in his 1989 piece called The Poet and the Computer, accurately predicts a near future of ubiquitous computers. He welcomes this development, but warns of a potential asymmetry. The ‘technologists’ should not be alone in inventing and implementing the welter of computer experiences on the horizon:
“…it might be fruitful to effect some sort of junction between the computer technologist and the poet… The company of poets may enable [those] who tend the machines to see a larger panorama of possibilities than technology alone may inspire.”
The poet in his parable, I propose, is the Experience Strategist. As we bring distance scenes to our very doors, we must always keep a weather-eye open for the larger panorama of possibilities. My job is to do just that.