Legal Disclaimer

This blog wishes it be known that the opinions presented herein are the sole responsibility of the author, and do not represent the feelings, opinions, ideas, or conclusions of any affiliated organization or group. Additionally, the author has chosen to keep the blog confidential during the Olympic Games 2008, as the reaction of the PRC towards foreign opinion remains ungauged. Thanks for reading.
Beijingfuturesdreams, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tom Sawyer on the Yellow River: One Aspect of a Transformational Scenario (Maybe)

Tom Sawyer's Asia: Yellow River Rocket

I have now been animate for 27 years. A creation of the Global Positioning Network's artificial intelligence engineers, my name's Tom Sawyer, and I'll be your guide down the historical Yellow River Basin. As we travel along this 3500 mile long waterway with a history as rich as the silt it has deposited along its pathway, I will help you to interpret the surroundings, interact with the people, and understand the importance of this national preserve.

I have been introduced to a number of the locals who inhabit the various regions that lie along the river's path, and indeed I have had number of conversations with most of the population in the cities, and villages. My omnipresence along the networks and multi-lingual translational functions have allowed me to gather heaps of information concerning the various customary social interactions, cultural nuances, and even personal pleasures and pursuits of the individuals. I am also able to conduct real-time auditory translation for you with near 97% accuracy for every major and minor dialect that we may come across along our travels. So if at any time yo have questions for me or for an individual along our way, please do not hesitate to ask me for assistance in interpreting or negotiating your surroundings. It's what I am here to do.

GPN also respects your desires for privacy, and the thrill and adventure that is inherent in finding one own way through a new environment. Therefore, a dormancy feature has been included in your software that allows you to reduce my functionality to the most basic of life systems monitoring at any time. This function can be engaged at anytime in three distinct ways: 1) Speaking the command: "dormant", followed by your special code word as initialized at your local network, 2) conducting the prescribed physical actions as pre programmed into your file at your local network affiliate, 3) Calling the pre-determined visual-cognitive combination through your visual cortex.

[write something about the different forms that the software can take on... physical, HUD, self-visilbe projection (only you can se me mode), and any others...]

This functionality is set to respond to any physio-cognitive activity that falls in the pre-determined "emergency" spectrum, again as set at your local network agency and their partner medical facilities. We monitor these levels at all times in an effort to establish your safety as number one priority during your journey. If you status measures within this spectrum for any longer than 3.5 seconds, emergency functionality will override any pre-set definitions, take an immersive analysis of the current situation, and alert the GPN. Again, the individual's safety reigns on high within our coding structure, so be assured that all actions taken on my behalf are in response to the systems prior knowledge of yourself and your surroundings.

All that legal jargon, safety first bologna, and "instruction manual" sheisse aside, let's go have ourselves a time to remember on the big river. On a personal note, I have travelled this path about 7,3450,000 since my last update, and am currently riding shotgun with 14,567 other individuals at different stages along the river. Never once have I had a repeat adventure, and I look forward to each one with the same zeal and excitement as the first one... it's in the programming.

The Golden Arches : A Continued Growth view of 2019 Beijing

FASTFueling New China -- 2019, Beijing, China

Ah yes...McDonald's.
Those golden arches probably sum up "New China" as well as any multi-cultural icon here in Beijing. And now they are more prolific than ever.

I recall a few years back, during the global financial crisis of a decade ago, trolling the depths of Usenet, looking for digitized books, in an effort to build a database for a project of mine, and coming across a title header that I thought at the time was just ludicrous. "Hooray for deficit spending and the 2019 89.95 Mcdonald's value meal" wrote one poster of digital literacy guides. Most of the books contained under this header were reference guides for web development and computer programming, but who was to know that the poster's prediction of price inflation would be so accurate.

The only mistake that he made was assuming that 89.95 stood for US Dollars and not the mighty Chinese Yuan. Walking down the main sponsorship street of the Beijing Olympic Games, my hunger was piqued and I stepped inside McDonald's Olympic flagship restaurant. The largess of the facility would have overwhelmed me a decade ago, but now it seems the norm for most western fast food chains.

Four floors tall with two fully staffed order lines (each with over 30 registers) and throngs of people waiting in line for some of the best "valued" meals in town. Yep...89.95 quai will get you a large veg-burger, large fries, and large soft drink, and compared to the 60-100 yuan bowl of limp rice noodles, it tastes pretty damn good.

Though the inflation of the yuan has been at the forefront of some global banking report for the last two years, China's central bank has had a difficult regulating the flow of new cash into the system. The stricter the regulations become on cash, the more credit markets seem to be opening up, and the availability of a beginners credit cards has this nation's fragile central bankers quaking.

When China declared that it would assist the international banking crisis of 07-09 by investing billions into the failing banks of Europe and the U.S. the surge in open banking opportunities between China and other parts of the world accelerated at an astounding rate. The resulting in flux of "credit" allowed foreign banks to finally begin issuing credit cards to Chinese nationals, who have been some of their bast customers of the decade.

McDonald's, one of the largest outside investors in mainland China, with close ties to the agriculture structure of the PRC, was one of the first companies to extend a banking card to its loyal customers. Their virtual control of huge swaths of Chinese farmlands, and China's increasing shift towards bio-fuel as its main source of energy, has propelled the fast food chain to the heights of global success. Their filling stations, pumping out McDiesel at an ever increasing pace, have led to a big shift in the nation's monetary and power structure.

The "Green Arches" as they have become known in many parts of Asia, have continued to supply the continent's bio-diesel filling stations with the highest grade and most reliable product since the first batch opened in 2012. Their initial surge into alternative energy, and the consistency with which their filling stations have been able to supply demand, have given McDonald's Energy Consortium (MEC) a whopping 80% of market share across China. Its stocks are soaring and its continual growth has been one of the foundations for the last decade of Chinese development.

As the leaders atop those golden arches pull critical strings in the world's largest consumer market, a new form of regulatory governing has begun to emerge here in the PRC. The openness of McDonald's industry strategies to public inquiry has endeared them to the masses, who keep coming through those revolving doors with greater frequency. With such a huge demand they are able to out-bid, out-produce, and out-service, a majority of the small independent eateries of the nation. And their advertising campaigns reach far more computer screens, cell phones, and billboards than those of the competition (and even the CCP).

So sitting down to my 89.95 two cheesburger-facsimile meal, and reflecting on the separate paths that got me and this meal to my table has become quite an exercise in recollection. I will sign off for a while, choosing to enjoy my meal without "Big Brother" watching every jaw movement, and recording every audible response to the taste. I will log back in after lunch, and report more from the FastFood policy makers of 2019 soon.


Facade Dynasty: A collapse society scenario (2053)

Facade Dynasty:

A fresh coat of paint, and a cement based wall-patch can do wonders on architecture that is over a thousand years old. However, these techniques when applied to the thin layer of marble that enclosed a majority of Beijing's "boom-years" construction projects, just doesn't quite capture the same essence.

Between 1990 and 2014, urban growth ramped steadily in the People's Republic of China, and some of the world's largest human living centers were created in the mode and fashion of the times. Huge steel and concrete monoliths, glass encased domes and other architecture of the most cutting edge variety were to be found among China' s metropolitan areas. Brilliant reflections rippled across streets with every sunset, and light displays of the most intricate, and even interactive variety peppered skylines with advertisements. During the peak of this trend, Beijing, China's political center and a powerful economic base, was heralded the world over for it's brilliant hosting of the Olympic Games of 2008. The stunning architecture the city was displaying as the games, and the world's attention, rolled through town, captured the imagination of billions, and it amazing infrastructure was growing by the month.

But as the global economy began its disastrous downturn in early 2009, and the resource wars began to ramp up in intensity, the world that the PRC was so intent to gain the respect of began to avert their attention. As China plowed forward with its plans to out-build and out-"face" the globe, other nations were seen to be stripping down the results of industrial economics, and turning whole hearted attention to the stabilization of their societies. While Beijing, ChongQing, Macau, HongKong, and ShangHai continued to race towards "the future," the vision of that future was changing, and the availability of resources necessary to propel such a future dwindled rapidly.

Despite China's best efforts to secure stable trade relationships with Africa, South America, and Oceania, as the crunches for its potable water and oil needs, many of these nations began to stockpile whatever resources were available to them. Repealing international trade agreements and drastically raising the prices and taxes of exports, many of the nations responsible for exporting raw materials to China deemed the monetary profits of little advantage compared to keeping those resources at home. As public and private military units scoured the globe to leverage resources to their funding agencies, China's million man army was deployed to secure Asia, and whatever other assets it could.

Sadly, a rapid decline of potable water resulted in the majority of global military actions being short-lived. Logistical attacks carried out on military databases, and communications networks resulted in huge numbers of soldiers being stranded in the field, and subject to the environment in which they were stationed. As each year passes and news of another mass execution site comes through the moratorium channels, we are still realizing to extent to which military action by most nations failed, and humanity's "level" playing field was founded. For example, the camp of nearly 30,000 Chinese now living in northern Chile was initially deployed on a mission to secure lumber and possible precious metals. Encountering resistance from U.S.- and Colombian-backed private armies, and running dangerously low on supplies, the soldiers negotiated a truce, trading 80 percent of their weapons for the small pocket of forest that they now inhabit. Similar stories concerning ex-NATO coalition forces in Central Asia and the Saudi Peninsula also pepper the communication channels.

As regions continued to harbor their natural resources, and restrict their trade, the People's Republic of China brought new construction projects to a screeching halt. The highly centralized governance ordered strict prohibitions on urban development projects not imminently necessary for the maintenance of infrastructure and bare-bones housing. While the 14th five-year was aimed at de-urbanization and bolstering of security in the rural community, stemming the flow of the city-bound millions proved to be more difficult than anticipated. The thriving black markets of the city, and exploitable infrastructure for mass mobility and shelter continued to draw the rural workforces to the metropolitan areas. Those staying in the rural areas were generally members of the local Party, and worked for private gain and security. Provincial Army units were often swayed by the promises of the highest bidder, and modern warlords reigned in control of the resource wealthy areas of the PRC.

The unity and national identity that had been crucial to the forming of the People's Republic of China began to quickly unravel, and the dark under belly of the dragon-nation slowly emerged. On buildings, the crumbling stone facades began to slowly unhinge from the steel skeletons that held them. While main highways and thorough fares were well maintained initially, the rapid degradation of the cities' peripheral roadways spilled more congestion onto the main roads. As side alleys piled up with fuel-less cars, the pressures began to impede major waterworks throughout major urban centers. The "Wash" of Beijing 2028, a project aimed to clear the city's sewage system through heavy rain inducement, became a disaster of the profoundest magnitude. After the third day of deluge rains, the city's ailing water pump facilities gave out, spilling millions of gallons of untreated sewage into the underground passages of the city. The passages housed much of the electrical infrastructure for the metropolitan area, and weeks of standing water slowly brought darkness to nearly every city block in the inner three rings, and over half of the developments between the third and fourth rings.

Beijing's decent into chaos was only one example of urban disarray in the People's Republic of China and in other global super-cities. Capable urbanites fled to the city outskirts in an effort to cling to the lifestyles they had once dreamed about, where they were promptly confronted by the incoming masses in flight from the rural war zones. As groups clashed, and swaths of the cities were abandoned, the fragility of Beijing's "face" lay exposed to the people for whom it was once the key component of the term "better life."

The materials of buildings became re-cycled walls for temporary shelters. Glass plates that weren't laying shattered around streets or building floors was re-claimed for make shift water collection projects, and a variety of small scale greenhouses. Sheet metal was garnered by bands of wrench and crowbar wielding "urban recyclers," often selling the goods to resource hordes or using the materials for personal shelters, etc. The physical facade of Beijing -- the elegant gardens, the freshly painted historical monuments, the mammoth centers for sport, art, business, education, and culture-- were to become the symbols of broken hope, as time and necessity worked their way into slight, crooked gaps in the grout.

Perhaps more devastating was the collapse of the Cultural Facade that had pulled the PRC through such a radical transformation during the early 21st century. As the nation fell into disarray, the tenuous national pride and identity quickly turned itself inside out, resulting in the division of China's demographic landscape along regional, fiscal, ethnic and other distinction lines. The once powerful Party fell into vicious power cliques, and the infighting that ensued alienated nearly 60% of the representative members and nearly 80% of the provincial representation. This debasement of power forced the urban social elite to begin allocating a larger percentage of power to the resource rich rural representatives, and their new agenda. The generation gap between the middle-agers of a prosperous and growing China, the elderly who vastly outnumbered them, and the toughened-without-loyalties youth continued to be one of the largest problems the nation faced. The elderly, mainly forced to take care of themselves founded large communal installments in the outskirts of provincial urban centers. Their children, inheriting a nation on the skids, found themselves vastly outnumbered concerning the amount and type of work to be done, and the skills for which many of them had been trained. The youth, though small in number, represented a large portion of the able-bodied populous, and many, unwilling to be the caretakers for the huge number of elderly, were to be found in the ranks of private armies.

Unified China, the great anchor for the Asian continent, found itself acting more of the great hull of the necessary oil rigs that stopped coming -- sunk under the weight of plans, pirates, and need for petrol. Though China was not alone in the great global collapse that has occurred, this historian, chronicling the fall from grace in Beijing, can only offer these thoughts and shreds of information and insights. We hope that whoever is reading these, and whenever you find yourself, can find some solace in what was the dream that drove this once great nation. Like the phoenix that once symbolized this mighty nation, perhaps some flame for the future can be found in these passages.

Unknown, circa 2053

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

September Reflections: Seoul - a peek at Beijing's Future?

In 1988, the Olympic games were held in Seoul, South Korea, marking the country's progress and development in its short history. Largely regarded as a success, the '88 Olympics were the first games held on mainland Asia, and were highly touted as Asia's entrance into the developed world.

Now, twenty years later, as we embark upon the task of outlining possible futures for Beijing, China, Asia, and parts of the world, I was fortuitously afforded the chance to go to Seoul. In gathering visual evidence of the living remains of the Olympic festival of 88, and exploring the metropolis of Seoul for various indicators of cultural, economic, and political health, I was able to glean only the quickest and dirtiest of opinions. However, the significance of Seoul as a possible pointer for the cultural, technological, and demographic trends of greater Asia, may lend foundational support for some of the Future Scenarios stemming from the Beijing Games and the research of this project.

The Olympic Highway and Lotte World

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to make it all the way to the official Olympic Village of the '88 games. Along the road to what would have been a goldmine of theoretical tangents for my research, the median is lined with the national flags of the participating nations. Various tribute sculptures remain-- well kept despite being surrounded by a 6 lane urban highway. Most likely, the timing of my visit allowed me to see this section of Olympic Highway in a high state of floral decoration, and cleanliness. Though other aspects of the city would just as easily lead me to believe that this avenue always looks so well maintained.

These photos were snapped just outside the gates of the famous Lotte World, a huge complex including a high end shopping mall, a Korean Folk Museum, Lotte Luxury Hotel, and an amusement park with both indoor and outdoor components. The official opening of the Lotte World Adventure Park was in 1989, making much of its construction congruent with the Olympic Games, and most likely a major hub for post-Olympic, peripheral development in the area.

Boasting a massive indoor amusement park, with roller coasters, theme rides, indoor ice-skating rink, and a elevated tram, the Lotte World Adventure is as much a testament to state-of-the-art construction for its time as it is a fun place to go. Is it likely that similar installations will go into development at the close of the Beijing Games? Does the new National Forest Park, a huge swath of (relatively central) Beijing that has been set aside as green space represent not only a more expensive venture, but also a testament to China's commitment to "green"? For now we can only speculate, but my opinion is that both may turn true, and indoor amusement on a scale as grand as this is soon to follow.

In downtown Seoul, a red and blue, spiral pinnacle marks the emergence of the Cheonggyecheon River. Installed at the gateway of Seoul's downtown Olympic Park, the river now has a dual role in the cities urban art --standing as a tribute to the Games and other important events that have been hosted by the city, and also as a social center for festivals, markets, and, at night, the cities youth.

For a majority of its trek down-stream, the Cheonggyechong is kept shallow, and border by steps for sitting and resting one's tired feet in the cool water. It's clean appearance, and safe atmosphere are maintained by the city, and some private volunteers. What remnants of art, culture, and social ideology will remain for the Beijing Olympic sites? Were Seoul's city planners aware that the river would be a mecca for the myriad of Seoul's youth who stumble down to the river for a good foot soaking?

By looking at Seoul from a demographic stance, it is more likely that the fate of this small downtown stream was well planned and orchestrated by the Urban Design teams responsible for creating the urban world that more than half of South Korea now calls home. Indeed, the National Capital Area, including Seoul, Incheon, and the greater metropolitan area, is home to nearly 26 million people, and its population continues to grow, placing it among the highest human populated areas on the planet.

As Beijing grows quickly towards the 20 million mark in population, and other urban centers of China meet and eclipse that same figure, massive shifts will occur, and urban designers and planning teams will be forced to push the limits of their creativity and foresight. Watching peers cities like Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore, and Hong Kong, mainland PRC's urban centers will be keen to maximize efficiency of all resource consumption, transportation, and growth patterns. Increasing the pervasiveness of communications technologies, alternative energies, and integrated medias will also be of high importance, and installations like the Digital Media City in Seoul (opening in 2010), could likely be a significant working example of "ubiquitous" society.

The DMC project is being hailed by the Korean government as a "'futuristic city center'[that] will function as the test-bed and hub of the digital media industry focusing on movie, broadcasting, animation, music, and online-education." With sponsorship by some major corporations like Woori Bank, LG CNS and LG Telecom, Korea Electronics Association, PANTECH, KBS Media, and the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation it may turn out that these claims are conservative. I will briefly discuss some of the major portions of the DMC concept, but I highly advise any visitors to go to the main website for further exploration.

The Digital Media Street (DMS) will run the entire length of the DMC and offer a number of novel technological advances in invisible and ubiquitous personal communications and media availability. From high-speed wireless (capable of seamless HD streaming), to HUD social-profiles for other pedestrians on the street, embedded lights that respond to both the environment and the individual, and animated tour guides, the DMS will be a unique amalgamate of the latest stage of wireless immersive technologies. Whether or not the idealized experience, and the actual experience compare to one another is quite another story, and we will visit again in the future to test usability, novelty, and impressions.

The "Eco-friendly" terminology has been heavily employed by the public relations department, and the evidence of this puh can be seen in a few technologies integrated into the design plans. For instance, the land on which the DMC will sit is a reclaimed landfill that has been turned into an "eco-park," and eco-friendly housing is touted as the best way to " achieve eco-friendly development and create technology that puts man first." Truly, a claim of the highest moral intentions. Specific examples of eco-friendly technologies employed in the creation of the housing units, the eco-park, and the massive glass and steel facilities have yet to be fully released.

Seoul, 2008, 20 years after it played host to the world for 17 days of athletic competition is in many ways thriving. The Korean Culture Wave is sweeping across East Asia, and installations like the DMC are being built to ensure that influence remains cutting edge. The population of the National Capital Area, and the standard of living that they enjoy, continues to increase. And the '88 Olympic Motto "Harmony and Progress," may well be viewed as poetry in motion.

Friday, September 5, 2008

September: Widening the Scope

In September, the One World, One Dream. Whose? blog will begin its final stage as a Futures Research experiment, an experiment geared at viewing the Beijing Olympics of 2008 in regards to China's past, present, and possible futures. In June we examined the long history of the nation now known as the People's Republic of China. In July, an examination of the current trends effecting the social-political-economic-and technological aspects of Chinese society. August, Was reserved for the Olympic games, the culmination of nearly a decades worth of planning, construction, and building of "the dream," and what we saw in that final version.

Now it is time to look at possible directions for the evolution of that dream and to broaden the scope of our imaginations and critical eye. We will begin to contextualize the Images of the Future as documented during the Beijing Games -- contextualize them in terms of the futures possible.

This contextualization will be centered upon an Alternative Futures exercise that uses the four foundational futures as a basis for the creation of scenarios. These fictitious scenes will present possible future worlds, from a variety of perspectives, representative of and built around the ideas of a Continued Growth Scenario, Decline/Decay Scenario, Disciplined Society, and Transformational Society. These will by no means be comprehensive or all-inclusive worlds, rather brief glimpses into possibilities.

By extrapolating some of the signifiers that were discussed in August's examination of Images, we will create and explore some of the futures that the Beijing Games have given us a glimpse of.
But first, we take one last look at the Olympiad, and its legacy...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

August -- The Futures Present Opinion: Passing the Torch

While the Beijing Olympics 2008 come to an end, the world is reminded that the Olympic tradition will continue in four years time in London, England. Though positive and negative commentary on the Beijing Games will continue to issue forth from analysts, journalists, and experts, many organizers and committees have already moved their focus to the upcoming games in the crown jewel of the once world encompassing British Empire.

The closing ceremonies, held in Beijing's "Bird's Nest" on August 23rd, dedicated part of the performance to the necessary passing of the torch to the hosting city, and in this time the world was given a myriad of images demonstrative of the ideas that will go into the design of the 2012 London Games. By employing a critical eye that directs our attention to a longer time frame, and broad scope of historic, and futures-oriented trends we may uncover some additional meaning to this brief exposure to Images from 2012.

The most expressive moment of the "London Games" portion of the show was not a double-decker bus transforming into a performance stage for Jimmy Page and David Beckham to do what they do best, but rather the extensive use of the symbolic "boarding of the bus."

While the act of getting on the bus has been used to symbolise a number of things in Western culture, it draws much of its symbolism from the idea that people collectively decide to allow another entity to take responsibility for their safety in transport. Similar to the train, the bus has become a symbol for collective transference of trust into the person at the controls of the mass-transit system. This imagery is often employed to represent the transference of trust in other ways: into a organizational specific charter, a political identity, or even a consumer mindset. The bus, and boarding thereof, has proven symbolically important for decades, and thus we are forced to pay attention to its use in the "passing of the torch."

As the video montage that played for the live audience (both at the Bird's Nest, and those viewing the CCTV broadcast), we follow a bus as it weaves through a pop-graphic 3D environment composed of London's iconography. The Clock Tower, Westminster Abbey, The London Eye, Buckingham Palace, and the British Museum are among the many notable pictures that paint the virtual landscape. Couple with this are various modes that encompass London culture from cab drivers and punk rockers to bankers, soldiers, and artists.

As the audience's attention is shifted from this virtual landscape to the live-action performers in the Bird's Nest, we see a modern double-decker bus touring the covered track. As the double-decker approaches the "bus stop" the audience is presented with a picture of those in queue for the bus ride: umbrella toting, newspaper reading, and hip-hop dancing Londoners dressed to represent the racial and economic diversity that exists in the modern city. As the bus pulls in, and the mad dash for the door begins we have the crux of the performance, and the most-telling futures image of the evening. The Londoners are repelled from the door to reveal a young Indian girl. we are confronted with a very interesting Image, likely fraught with intentional symbolism. India, comprised of some of the oldest cultures of human history, was once a British Colony, regained its governance and sovereignty in 1947 at the end of the British Raj. These nations' relationship has encompassed trade, territorial claims, cultural bias and discrimination, bi-lateral beneficial cultural exposure, and a significant emigration of peoples, knowledge, and technology from both countries. Many view India as an economic force that will become more influential than even China, as a booming population, and stabilizing national government may preclude a massive economic expansion.

The viewer, aware of some of these histories and expectations, must therefore examine the following gestures of the Indian-girl character with the utmost of scrutiny.

The girl, exits the bus, and approaches a young girl of Chinese nationality who is holding a football (soccer ball). The two exchange smiles and the football to a roaring crowd response. After the exchange the young Indian walks across the backs of the queued Londoners en route to re-boarding the bus. A well choreographed segment of the show, to be sure, but to what extent this points towards Britain's attitude toward India and the future of her vast population, we can only speculate.

However, the immediate response to the implied symbolism could be that Britain, in its bid to win back the hearts of the Indian populous is willing to have it's own hard-working, bus-taking population supplicate on behalf of the rising nation. Even if such actions were to occur in the coming decades, and the scope of historical context were to pass it off as a case of "just desserts," it is likely that the backs walked over will not feel the same sentiment.

Rather than dwell on this particular image presented by the future host of the Olympic Games, let's turn our focus to another holding nearly as much poignancy to possible Futures. As the "torch passing" segment of the ceremony is coming to a close we see 3 tourist-clad actors mount a throwback airline boarding staircase reminiscent of many a presidential plan boarding movie clips. However, at the end of the staircase, no plane awaits these young travellers, and apparently no amount of high-wire engineering so prevalent in the rest of the ceremony was able to conjure up an escape for these young travellers.

Could this gesture be an acknowledgement of some of the current strains on the global aviation industry, as fuel prices and passenger reluctance reach new heights? While it is unlikely that all of the world's planes will be fuel-less in four years, it is possible that location, and rising costs (for travel at least) may make the 2012 Olympics more cost prohibitive for its younger fans.

As is true for most futures oriented thinking, only time will tell if these hypothetical relationships exist between Symbolic Image, and lived reality...

As for the Olympics, the torch now resumes its global run, and returns to London, after a century of absence. Beijing, post-Olympic fervor, has become a hive of speculation, both domestically and internationally, even while the Para-lympics wait to begin.

Questions surrounding Beijing, China, and broader Futures at stake will be listed, addressed, and speculated upon in September...

August -- The Futures Present Opinion: "The Future is Forever Frontward"

We take the title of this post from one of the music videos that has been circulating on Chinese television during the Olympic Games. The video, comprised of numerous rising singer-stars from Chinese burgeoning music industry dancing and singing together on a fusion set of hutong architecture, and various water and light displays, has been airing on CCTV.

In total, 10 music videos were officially sponsored by the Chinese Olympic Advisory Committee, and have been playing on Chinese Television for months. The thematic song "Beijing Welcomes You," from which the cartooned "Fu Wa" Olympic icons draw their names, included over 100 of China's biggest performers. Here is a link to the video with translation and a comprehensive list of the stars shown throughout the video.

Other videos are listed here:

One World One Dream by Liu Huan and Na Ying
Everyone is No. 1 by Andy Lau
This Is Our Dream by Wang Feng
Stand Up feat. Jackie Chan, Leehom Wang, Stefanie Sun, Han Hong
Forever Friends by Sun, Nan, and Amei
Sky by Jing Tan
We Are Ready by Nicholas Tse
Love's in Beijing by Sun Nan
Living Together on the Blue Planet by Nicholas Tse and Joey Yung
Cheers for Life by Han Hong and Yu Quan

The production for many of these music videos was conducted in late 2007 and early 2008 -- a testament to the speed and proficiency that Chinese media has learned for orchestrating projects of this scope. Perhaps one of the most interesting insights that these videos give us from a production perspective is the amount of cooperation that the Chinese government was able garner from both mainland and Hong Kong super stars. While little has been posted concerning the production budgets of these videos, we are curious to know the expense incurred to bring so many lucrative names together. If these artists were compelled more by a sense of national pride, and obligation, rather than a paycheck, it could have significance in the continued development of China's multi-media environment.

Many of the themes prevalent in these songs and videos are very much oriented toward egalitarian and future-thinking ideals. Camera shots of children, para-Olympian athletes, multi-ethnic crowds, and many of China' s iconic architectures combine to present us with an overview of the national media atmosphere. The transference of the broadcast ideals to the viewing audience has yet to be gauged nor fully unfurled. However, at least in Beijing, the extent to which these videos have pervaded television screens and available channels is extensive, thus implying that some reactions should be observable, both long term and short term.

It is still unknown to what degree these videos are airing outside of Beijing, but each deserves viewing (for entertainment of course), and analysis of content( for later enquiry).