Information society experts from around the region gathered in Bled in early March for the eleventh annual Bled Forum. The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the future of the information society. But, according to Blaž Golob and Jerome C. Glenn, a new format at this year’s event as well as strong links with a global information project mean the forum is much more than a brief meeting of minds.

All together 16 countries participated this year. The majority of participants came from the region of South East Europe, including all countries from the western Balkans. We also had attendees from India and USA. The topic was the future of the information society and challenges for good governance. Those attending from India presented a very interesting case in that their country is very advanced in information society development, particularly from the perspective of human capacity.

As part of the forum we had two events. One was the annual forum that lasts two days. Prior to that we had a workshop for a foresight exercise. It is an exercise that briefs about knowledge-based governance. The participants were all key people in the region – whether policymakers, representatives from relevant institutions, members of private sector companies with potential or staff from non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The participants were selected together with the Regional Cooperational Council which is a successor for the former Stability Pact for South East Europe.

The training is preparation for a designated project. In previous years, we ran training programmes that included awareness building, capacity building and training. But this year we decided to run a workshop during which we designed a project with a view to attracting attention from the European Commission, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Regional Cooperational Council and the Millennium Project. So when you ask what the follow up is – the follow up is a concrete project involving the identification of priorities for a knowledge based society and economy development for the western Balkans by 2020.

The Millennium Project is a global system and it is a leader in several areas. Firstly, we produce what is called futures research methodology 3.0. This is the largest selection of methods to look at the future that has ever been assembled internationally. We are constantly updating it and it has become like a manual for other people to use.

Secondly we demonstrated global futures research is possible. When we began our pre-feasibility study in 1992, futurists did not think global futures research was possible. Now, nobody says it is impossible.

Third, we have operationalised the phrase global/local by having nodes around the world. A node is an intersection of two or more networks. For example, the Bled Forum itself is a node of the Millennium Project. It has some people from government, some people from universities, some from NGOs, and some from UN systems. The idea is that a node should be an intersection of networks of different kinds of institutions. We have 33 of these around the world and it is slowly growing.

The Millennium Project is a global brain picking system. The people who are chosen to gather information are not selected by our headquarters but instead are selected within the culture, within the language, within the sensitivity around the world. It’s a process which means you can have a local expert putting their ideas into a global system. The global system then gives feedback to that individual person. The individual person then can relate to their individual work to the nodes. Around 2,500 people who have participated in our research were selected by that process. Having these nodes around the world is a management answer to the phrase global/local.

We are the first decentralised global participatory think tanks. We are also cutting across ideologies. For example, we have a node in Tehran, and we also have a node in Tel Aviv. So the idea is a think tank on behalf of humanity, not on behalf of individual countries, ideologies, parties and so forth.

The idea is the greater collective intelligence of the global future.

One of the methodologies we invented is called Real Time Delphi. It’s a software system that can very quickly assess and create feedback systems for improving decisions. That is being used right now throughout Latin America because the region is celebrating the 200th anniversary of its independence and wants to rethink its future by using Real Time Delphi software. The software is also used by the World Bank to evaluate global environmental facilities.

The state of the future index is another method we invented and we have done this in Turkey, parts of China have done it, South Korea has also done it, and Azerbaijan is doing one now. We have also done comparative ones for Latin America.

So there is a technique we have developed and it is replicated around the world.

A good example would be from Turkey foresight exercise on vision 2023. From the scientific point of view, a local research agency, has done analysis where they see Turkey by 2023 by using future index methodologies. The outcome of their research effectively had an impact on the government’s policy measure.

Currently, we are doing a foresight research in the future of Romani’s higher education. The research focuses on how Romania, an EU member state, sees the development of their higher education system by 2020.

How easy is it to get various parties to participate in IT projects that ultimately empower people in giving them more information? After all, it means that they are better educated; it means that they will want change in certain areas and in the western Balkans not everybody wants to go forward.

It is very easy in some respects and very difficult in others. First, you have to define a common interest and when you do that with different stakeholders, you go beyond nationality. The common interest in the region is better economies, better employment, better education and access to jobs. That is beyond politics.

But today, if you want to achieve this, you need cross border cooperation because markets in the western Balkans are so fragmented that if you do it in a national scale, you fail.

Of course there are challenges otherwise we wouldn’t have anything to work with. The real challenge is that the countries are fragmented and they are setting the agendas by themselves. Each country is affected by political elites. So the challenge is to go beyond political elites.

Read the article on The Slovenia Times

Going Beyond Borders

Information society experts from around the region gathered in Bled in early March for the eleventh annual Bled Forum. The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the future of the information society. But, according to Blaž Golob and Jerome C. Glenn, a new format at this year’s event as well as strong links with a global information project mean the forum is much more than a brief meeting of minds.

All together 16 countries participated this year. The majority of participants came from the region of South East Europe, including all countries from the western Balkans. We also had attendees from India and USA. The topic was the future of the information society and challenges for good governance. Those attending from India presented a very interesting case in that their country is very advanced in information society development, particularly from the perspective of human capacity.

As part of the forum we had two events. One was the annual forum that lasts two days. Prior to that we had a workshop for a foresight exercise. It is an exercise that briefs about knowledge-based governance. The participants were all key people in the region – whether policymakers, representatives from relevant institutions, members of private sector companies with potential or staff from non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The participants were selected together with the Regional Cooperational Council which is a successor for the former Stability Pact for South East Europe.

The training is preparation for a designated project. In previous years, we ran training programmes that included awareness building, capacity building and training. But this year we decided to run a workshop during which we designed a project with a view to attracting attention from the European Commission, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Regional Cooperational Council and the Millennium Project. So when you ask what the follow up is – the follow up is a concrete project involving the identification of priorities for a knowledge based society and economy development for the western Balkans by 2020.

The Millennium Project is a global system and it is a leader in several areas. Firstly, we produce what is called futures research methodology 3.0. This is the largest selection of methods to look at the future that has ever been assembled internationally. We are constantly updating it and it has become like a manual for other people to use.

Secondly we demonstrated global futures research is possible. When we began our pre-feasibility study in 1992, futurists did not think global futures research was possible. Now, nobody says it is impossible.

Third, we have operationalised the phrase global/local by having nodes around the world. A node is an intersection of two or more networks. For example, the Bled Forum itself is a node of the Millennium Project. It has some people from government, some people from universities, some from NGOs, and some from UN systems. The idea is that a node should be an intersection of networks of different kinds of institutions. We have 33 of these around the world and it is slowly growing.

The Millennium Project is a global brain picking system. The people who are chosen to gather information are not selected by our headquarters but instead are selected within the culture, within the language, within the sensitivity around the world. It’s a process which means you can have a local expert putting their ideas into a global system. The global system then gives feedback to that individual person. The individual person then can relate to their individual work to the nodes. Around 2,500 people who have participated in our research were selected by that process. Having these nodes around the world is a management answer to the phrase global/local.

We are the first decentralised global participatory think tanks. We are also cutting across ideologies. For example, we have a node in Tehran, and we also have a node in Tel Aviv. So the idea is a think tank on behalf of humanity, not on behalf of individual countries, ideologies, parties and so forth.

The idea is the greater collective intelligence of the global future.

One of the methodologies we invented is called Real Time Delphi. It’s a software system that can very quickly assess and create feedback systems for improving decisions. That is being used right now throughout Latin America because the region is celebrating the 200th anniversary of its independence and wants to rethink its future by using Real Time Delphi software. The software is also used by the World Bank to evaluate global environmental facilities.

The state of the future index is another method we invented and we have done this in Turkey, parts of China have done it, South Korea has also done it, and Azerbaijan is doing one now. We have also done comparative ones for Latin America.

So there is a technique we have developed and it is replicated around the world.

A good example would be from Turkey foresight exercise on vision 2023. From the scientific point of view, a local research agency, has done analysis where they see Turkey by 2023 by using future index methodologies. The outcome of their research effectively had an impact on the government’s policy measure.

Currently, we are doing a foresight research in the future of Romani’s higher education. The research focuses on how Romania, an EU member state, sees the development of their higher education system by 2020.

How easy is it to get various parties to participate in IT projects that ultimately empower people in giving them more information? After all, it means that they are better educated; it means that they will want change in certain areas and in the western Balkans not everybody wants to go forward.

It is very easy in some respects and very difficult in others. First, you have to define a common interest and when you do that with different stakeholders, you go beyond nationality. The common interest in the region is better economies, better employment, better education and access to jobs. That is beyond politics.

But today, if you want to achieve this, you need cross border cooperation because markets in the western Balkans are so fragmented that if you do it in a national scale, you fail.

Of course there are challenges otherwise we wouldn’t have anything to work with. The real challenge is that the countries are fragmented and they are setting the agendas by themselves. Each country is affected by political elites. So the challenge is to go beyond political elites.

Read the article on The Slovenia Times

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