One way to grasp the Big Board is to see what it is not.
Typically, trend watching and future forecasters exhibit the following characteristics:
- The trend work is almost always about the latest thing, aka “fast culture.” The deeper forces at work (“slow culture”) in America are ignored.
- Trends are almost always looked at in isolation. These days it is interactions that matter as much as the trends themselves.
- There are either too few trends under study (the “latest thing” problem above). Or too many. One Big Board competitor is monitoring over 200,000 trends.
- Cultural forecasting rarely uses quantitative data…or uses these data well.
- The trend worker rarely makes a prediction (and can never be proven wrong).
- When the trend worker does make a prediction, he or she almost always forgets about it. (Just as well.) It is impossible to identify a “track record.”
- Trend watching and future forecasting is a deeply unsystematic process.