Footprint is a part-time activity for me, and a lot of other things have been going on over the last couple months which have conspired to keep me from spending as much time as I'd like on this. Nonetheless, since Footprint launched I've had an opportunity to talk with many people and organizations who have been helping me shape the vision of where to take this work. I wanted to summarize the current state of the vision - and invite your thoughts and participation.
SimulationThe key aspect of Footprint that people have been finding particularly valuable is the "What If?" simulation.
I've been passionate about the power of simulation for most of my career. The most unique thing that computers can do is simulate - bringing ideas and processes into a tangible, interactive form. Simulation is fundamentally different from calculating, searching, rendering, and playing back pre-created information. It extends our cognition and allows us to link our thinking together into communal problem-solving. Simulation has been primarily available to domain experts in technical, special-purpose tools, and at the other end of the spectrum, in games. There is a middle ground that has been only lightly explored: Interfaces and interactivity as accessible as games, but applied to important, valuable, and hard problems.
The VisionImagine a publicly-accessible, data-driven platform for creating, testing and refining scenarios for a sustainable future. This platform would be a catalyst for change in public policy, individual behavior, and corporate strategy. This holistic view of society, fusing domains such as energy, food, resource use, urban planning, environmental and public health, education and economics, would grow wiki-style, capturing the collective wisdom and vision of society's best and most creative thinkers.
This platform will empower us as individuals to explore possible futures, understand costs and consequences, and collectively build a vision of where we want to take society and how to get there. With a united vision, we have the chance to influence government and industry to create a just, sustainable, and high quality life.