2004 Ten-Year Forecast
Always Look Back Twice as Far as You Are Looking Forward
Long a mantra at the Institute for the Future, this principle is particularly important in times that serve up more than the usual quantum of surprises and uncertainty. Indeed, this decade has so preoccupied us with surprises that nearly halfway into it, it is the first decade in a century to have no name. Perhaps it is because events are still too new to allow a label to settle in. Or perhaps the name-defining event has yet to occur. Until a name emerges, however, the very namelessness of the decade is itself a compelling indicator of the challenge of making sense of the next ten years.
In the face of this uncertainty, long looks-back can reveal much about what the future is likely to hold. As Mark Twain observed, history doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes: cycles thus revealed can put a trajectory on current events and leach the surprise out of possibilities on the horizon. This year’s Ten-Year Forecast (including the 2004 Map of the Decade), our 26th edition, thus places particular emphasis on cycles we have discerned, long and short, setting specific issues within this larger context.