Futurism, Futurology, Future Shock, Climate Change: Visions of the Future from 1909 to the Present

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John Potts


This essay charts a brief intellectual history of the futures – both utopian and dystopian – conceived in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. It traces perspectives on the future since 1909, when the term ‘futurism’ was coined in the publication of the ‘The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism’. The essay maps changes in the vision of the future, taking a chronological approach in noting developments in the discourse on the future. A prominent theme in pronouncements on the future is technological progress, first in relation to industrial technology, later in the context of post-industrial or information technology. A turning-point in this discourse can be isolated around 1973, when ideas of technological progress begin to be challenged in the public sphere; from that date, environmental concern becomes increasingly significant in discussions of the future.

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Author Biography

John Potts, Macquarie University

John is  Professor in Media. He has a wide range of research interests, reflected in his many publications. He is the author or editor of eight books, including The New Time and Space (2015), A History of Charisma (2009) and The Future of Writing (2014).