Member Post: A day in the life of a futurist Part II

At least two of our members have written and reflected on a day in their life. You can view Part 1 here. This post is written by Bryan Alexander for his own blogThe views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of the APF or its members.

People often ask what I do as an educational futurist.  As one answer I thought I’d share a kind of diary, to give a sense of the practical work and life.

6:30 am – rise later than usual, due to a cold and the insistence of two cats.  Check the weather outside by walking around a bit and consulting Wunderground (around 40 F; cloudy).  One of the cats charges outside for morning patrol.  Then I head back inside to start my morning news routine.

That means working through Google News, HackerNews, Inside Higher Ed, Twitter, Facebook, plus a quick scan of overnight emails for newsletters and stories forwarded by loyal readers.  I save several tabs for later rereading and possible actions.  I also note some potential details for trends: Microsoft might be aiming a light, cloud-based laptop for the K-12 market (mobile; web office; cloud computing); controversy over a sociologist visiting a liberal arts college (campus race politics; student activism); critical article about Blackboard’s strategy and reputation (LMS changes);

7:45 – 8:30 am – make coffee for Ceredwyn and bring it to her.  Make myself breakfast and eat while reading RSS feeds.

8:30 – 9:00 am – revise some presentation materials for this week.  Note some arguments among friends on Facebook.

9:00 – 9:30 am – pack for this week’s trips.  My wife talks with me about her very cool new novel project.  Our son staggers awake (he’s on vacation), and I keep one eye on him as he successfully makes himself breakfast.

9:30 – 9:45 am – share one interesting and potentially future-oriented news story across social media:

My goal in doing this is to elicit feedback; that use of social media is something I’ve been doing for years.  This morning, my own assessment of this particular project is too tentative.

9:45 – 10:00 am – Ceredwyn and I invoice two clients for this week’s operations, and discuss other financial issues.

10:00 – 10:30 – drive to nearby town in search of decent bandwidth.  No, business class Fairpoint service is neither fast nor reliable enough for me to run a webinar with assurance.

10:30 – 11:00 – set up for webinar in local public library.  Check in with organizers and make sure the tech is running. Answer emails from people concerning presentations tomorrow and Thursday.  Reply to interview query.  Discuss one professional futurists’ organization by email.

11:00 – 12:00 noon – conduct webinar for one new client.  Internet connection is solid.

Noon – 12:30 pm – grab this book from the library’s ILL service, then head off to our bank for a deposit, and then to the post office up the mountain.

12:30 pm – 5:00 pm – drive from Vermont to Boston.  At best this can take less than four hours, but I get clobbered by the city’s traffic, as ever:

Boston traffic arg

90 minutes to cross 2/3rds of this cursed town.

Along the way I listen to a variety of podcasts.  Once, in New Hampshire, I stop for a phone interview.  Several times I stop to check email and social media.  Throughout the drive I meditate on virtual reality for education, the subject of Thursday’s workshop.

5:00 – 6:30 pm – check in at Logan, then get online to do some work, including this blog post.

7:00 – 9:00 pm – I’m scheduled to fly from Boston to Washington, DC.  Hopefully I’ll have room to do some writing.  If not, I’ll read about American populism and higher education.

Once in DC I’ll Metro to the hotel for tomorrow’s conference, get some work done, then fall asleep.

The most futuristic bit of today: weaving several ideas about the future of education and technology across multiple technologies, time zones, media, and nations.

The least futuristic bit: moving some pieces of wood onto another stack.  Or maybe it was holding Hunter, our biggest and fluffiest cat, very close before I left.  He hates when I leave.