I have to be honest. When I was asked to start work on the relaunch of the Future Challenges site, I had only the vaguest idea of what Bertelsmann does, less of an idea of what Bertelsmann Stiftung does, and even less understanding of the Future Challenges concept.
Several trips to Germany, a few workshops and a handful of edited articles later, I have a much better appreciation of what Bertelsmann hopes to achieve with this project. In essence it’s pretty simple – experts from around the world use their knowledge and experience to discuss the impact of global trends colliding and interacting with one another. For example, what happens when Globalization, New Governance and Technology meet on the streets of Syria?
It’s fascinating stuff, covering some of the biggest issues that we face today. But I don’t think I really understood the scope and ambition of the project until I travelled to Rietberg in Germany last month to run a couple of workshops on effective blogging.
The Future Challenges regional editors had been gathered from all over the world to discuss the relaunch and their work going forward, and they quickly proved themselves to be an extremely passionate, eloquent and politically engaged group. Arriving midway through Sunday evening’s welcome dinner, I sat down to the table and was immediately surrounded by conversations that ranged across human rights, international development, religion, anti-terror legislation and more. The conversations went on long after dessert had been cleared away, and indeed they didn’t stop for the whole two days I was there.
The lead articles on the new Future Challenges site serve as excellent primers – quick, concise overviews of important global trends. But it’s the local views, links, videos and other pieces of a content package that give the real depth and context to a story. If we get it right, the whole of Future Challenged will be infused with the sort of passion that I saw in such abundance in Rietberg.
I think we’re going to get it right.