Futures Canvas is a digital tool for collaboratively designing maps of possible futures. It uses gamification, crowdsourcing and futures thinking to address wicked problems through collective speculation and open ideation. As we grapple with our own and others' expectations, hopes, and fears, we create a diverse and multi-faceted picture of the future possibilities. Futures Canvas helps explore our collective ideas about the future, broadening our view and thereby enabling us to make better-informed decisions in the here and now.

How does it work?

Futures Canvas hosts challenges to collectively explore future possibilities connected to topics of shared interest. Challenges are open for participation for a particular amount of time and circle around complex future questions that ask for thinking and acting together. They cannot be tackled by individuals, but heavily rely on collective intelligence.

Each challenge is initiated by a challenge host. Challenge hosts are organisations that act as presenters of the topic and invite for public participation in rethinking its future possibilities. Challenges are connected to a clear and well-defined purpose and can offer additional incentives to participate, such as prizes.

Participants in a challenge can be both invited contributors, such as experts in particular aspects of the topic, as well as public users. They take part in a challenge by submitting their future speculations and evaluating the speculations of others. This takes place on the Futures Canvas, a digital map consisting of all submitted and evaluated speculations that is updated in real-time.

Speculations are hypothetical statements about future possibilities. They can express expectations, hopes, fears or also absurd thoughts and provocations and should contain only one logical statement formulated in clear, easy-to-understand language. A speculation cannot be right or wrong. It is a mere invitation to think together about a particular possibility of the future.

Participants evaluate the speculations of others by rating them according to two criteria: the perceived desirability and perceived likelihood that this speculation becoming a future reality. This determine the position of a speculation on the Futures Canvas. Statistics of the individual ratings allow to judge how controversial a particular speculation is perceived.

In order to allow for more informed speculation and rating, background information is available as an introduction to the topic on the challenge website, e.g. regarding the status quo of the topic of the challenge (such as current research on the topic) and why the challenge is relevant.

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Futures Canvas has been developed by AKAW, the futures thinking initiative born out of STATE Studio. AKAW is a creative playground for bold futures exploration. Through its toolkits, methods and workshops it helps groups to set out on collective thought experiments and explore and discuss the possibilities of the future.