Zhihu and Wavemaker's New Book Questions about the Future Stimulates Creative Thinking About What Lies Ahead

SHANGHAI, Oct. 31, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — On October 31, 2022, Zhihu and Wavemaker jointly published a book, Questions about the Future, which presents a series of questions about what is in the offing as we look down the road. The book is now available in major online bookstores, including Jingdong Books, Dangdang.com and Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences Press’s Tmall store, and can also be found in mainstream physical bookstores. Zhao Linna, the book’s editor-in-chief, the sponsor of the “Questions about the Future” project, and the head of brand consulting and trend research at Wavemaker, led the project team that came up with the questions that stimulates readers to ponders what lies in store in the future in a move to provoke a deeper reflection about the world.

No questions, no future

Which year would you wish to return to if you could turn back time, according to a query on the internet?

The most common response was 2019.

It was the year before the arrival of Covid and the ensuing pandemic. Everyone had definite plans in the mind for their future in terms of education, work, love, marriage, sports, travel, seeing a friend or watching a movie. However, the world hit the pause button, and had to do so for quite a while due to the unexpected pandemic. Even the most accessible plans had to be postponed, canceled or put on hold indefinitely. With the uncertainty about the future exponentially amplified as the pandemic dragged on, people lost their passion and creativity for the future, and became more inclined to live in the present and just deal with things one day at a time.

With an overwhelming focus on the present, people have lost their sense of wonder and imagination about the future. At the same time, as they get older and more experienced, with access to a wealth of information, people are reluctant to ask questions and are content to just leave things as they are, in a state of non-comprehension. Leaving queries unanswered became the norm. Without curiosity, we are unable to be passionate about exploration. But in a world that is becoming more unpredictable, the only way to explore the future is to pose questions.

Questions are more important than answers

The viewpoint that questions are more important than answers is the logical premise of the book project. With this in mind, the project is meant to serve as a source of inspiration to stimulate creative thinking about the future by setting forth a list of questions.

In the process of compiling the book, the project team came up with a list of initial questions about the future and worked with experts in ten different fields (e.g. experience design, data science, medical science and trend research) to redefine the picture of a possible future.

To provoke a broader social reflection, Wavemaker China and Zhihu joined forces two years ago to launch an experimental social innovation project, Questions about the Future, a 100-meter-long “road with questions” paved with creators from the Maker Faire along the Bund in Shanghai, trying to change the questioning approach to awaken our innate ability to ask questions, which had been overwhelmed by our growing experience.

Meanwhile, a topic section was created on the Zhihu platform, which now has over 40 million questions, to collect more questions and interest more people in imagining what the future could look like.

Shaping a picture of the future begins with a series of future-oriented questions

Combining the questions presented by members of the online community who think about the future and experts from various fields on Zhihu, as well as the inquisitiveness of Wavemaker, the book lists a number of inspiring questions based on existing technical and human trends to present a snapshot of future lives in the next decade that is closely related to people, such as future travel, growth, work, medical care, entertainment, consumption, family and community. The book summarizes 10 major questions around these scenarios, which in turn raise further derivative questions that force us to rethink our relationship with the environment, with our communities, and with technology.

It offers a straightforward “WHAT, HOW, WHY, WHAT IF” question structure and explains the reasoning behind it, untethering people’s increasingly constricted thinking and leading them into a more liberated and “adventurous” world.

In an era of information explosion, powerful databases and convenient search functionalities put “ready-made answers” at your fingertips. But Wavemaker believes that what people need is not just a ready-made answer, but to go beyond the absolute boundaries between “yes” and “no”, as well as the ability to explore more possibilities from a multifaceted perspective. Open this book and look for questions about the future. Start by asking questions and let’s explore together with interest a future that challenges our preconceptions.

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