The launch of Future Scanner - http://memebox.com/futurescanner - on 5 December is a notable event. Read a review here:

http://www.techcrunch.com/2007/12/05/future-scanner-a-digg-clone-that-tracks-the-future/#comments (some of the comments are less than positive).

It’s using the ‘wisdom of crowds’ concept, but so far there doesn’t appear to be any help for working out how to use this information to explore what might be in the future. That is an issue if you are going to use the trends identified in any systematic way - it's easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of information out there. Judging the quality of the information for your context is another issue that needs to be considered.

Implications for the futures field? Maybe nothing if some of the comments in the review are to go by. It might just disappear from view. But, if it does take off, maybe there’s an opportunity to provide an interpretation/facilitation service for people wanting to use the trends identified in a more meaningful way, and to help assess which trends might be credible and which ones not?

The appearance of Future Scanner is also a signal of disintermediation, where trend spotting (because this is what Future Scanner currently is) moves from the realm of the expert (futurist) to the realm of the people, where anyone can spot a trend they think is relevant and useful. So, it may signal a shift in the role of futurists more towards facilitator and process, and away from content generation?

It's also similar to the emerging trend in universities where the role of academics is moving from content developer to facilitator, and disintermediation, where the role played by universities as knowledge managers is declining as students are able to go direct to the knowledge source to get what they need (but the latter is a topic for its own post!).

This apparent democratisation of trend spotting is one to keep on the radar.