What is Aiglatson?

Aiglatson is not a surname. It is an emotion, an antonym of future shock.

Aiglatson is a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the future. It is the positive emotion people feel when thinking about the future.

When we stop our daily fretting over tedious issues and our obsession with a halcyon past, we can develop a hope for the future that will encourage us to fulfill our dreams.

Where did it come from?

In Futures Studies as Applied Knowledge, Jim Dator wrote, “Aiglatson is ‘Nostalgia’ spelled backwards and is a word told to me by Gabriel Fackre to symbolize the yearning for things to come; revering the future; without being disrespectful to the past (remembering that once it was all that was humanly possible), preferring the dreams of the future to the experiences of the past; always desiring to try something new; to go where no one has ever gone before in all areas of human–and non-human, and, soon, post-human–experience.”

How is it used?

A good way to describe Aiglatson is by referencing the emotions felt at world’s fairs. Many world’s fairs have focused on the future, but few had the power of visioning which the General Motors Futurama exhibit brought to the 1939 world’s fair in NY. The fair as a whole presented an idealistic view of what the future should be with the understanding they had at the time.

The GM Futurama exhibit at the 1939-40 NY World’s Fair

With the art deco and the starry-eyed view of science and engineering, one can imagine the emotions the visitors to the fair must have felt. The exhibit happened towards the end of the Great Depression, and the visitor’s hope and optimism were waiting to erupt. They felt aiglatson.

Why do I need to know this?

Even today, their aiglatson and their view of the future taint our own. For all intents and purposes, we have been living that vision of tomorrow for the past 50 years. However, we now see the implications of the Futurama vision for the future which were hidden at that time–rising energy costs, pollution, burning rivers, tainted ecosystems, nuclear meltdowns, international terrorism, etc.

In many ways, subsequent generations have been handed a “used future”, one based on someone else’s vision of tomorrow. That is why aiglatson is important for personal and organizational development. We must envision our own preferred future or we will end up fulfilling someone else’s dreams while possibly neglecting our own.


climate choice
Will we continue living the used future from GM’s Futurama or something more sustainable?


Why is this your company name?

As a strategic futurist, I must know everything I can about…everything. Except, research suggests that experts make terrible future forecasters.  A singular future is unpredictable. No one can predict with reliable accuracy anything about the future. Once such a prediction is made, the world is exposed to it and the foundation upon which the prediction was based is compromised. Did the prediction cause a self-fulfilling prophecy?

A more effective way of preparing for the future is not to predict a singular future but instead multiple different futures by developing scenarios. Developing different scenarios for the future is also about more than just preparing for everything. It is also about understanding how all these scenarios might be true for different parts of society. So, at some point, I have to give up what I know and feel the future. Then I can better understand how to build a strategy to navigate the scenarios to our preferred future.

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