Tip Sheet: Sources of Scanning

Alternate PDF Version (3 pages, 340 KB): 2016-273-tip_sheet_scannningsources-eng.pdf

Foresight practitioners are constantly scanning for weak signals (i.e. signs of significant change that may impact particular systems). There are an infinite number of sources for scanning and the types of sources used may depend on the particular topic under study, the scanner’s preferences, the availability of the information, the reliability of the information, and a host of other factors.

Horizons uses the acronym STEEG as a frame of reference for scanning. STEEG stands for Society, Technology, Economy, Environment and Governance. This breadth of categories reminds the scanner to look for signs of change in varied domains. Using STEEG as a guide can also help focus scanning. While scanning sources such as traditional newspapers and journals (e.g. The Economist, the Guardian, The New York Times) may be useful to find weak signals or contextualize them, the foresight practitioner should also aim to look beyond traditional news feeds to bolster their scanning.

Below is a list of non-traditional scanning sources. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but is merely meant to provide a sample of interesting scanning sites. They have been roughly arranged according to STEEG, although it should be noted that there is no dividing line between these categories (e.g. GreenBiz deals with issues related to the environment and the economy, which will also have an impact on society). Also included is a sample list of general scanning sources that cut across STEEG categories.

General scanning sources:






Some other tools that foresight practitioners can use for scanning or organizing their scanning hits:

  • Pearltrees - www.pearltrees.com (a bookmarking site useful for storing your scanning hits and searching what others are scanning)
  • Diigo - https://www.diigo.com/ (social bookmarking)
  • Flipboard - www.flipboard.com (a social network aggregation tool that provides customizable curation of news on a variety of topics)
  • Twitter - www.twitter.com (in addition to following topics, try following individuals who write about the future)
  • Visual Capitalist - http://www.visualcapitalist.com/ (free infographics that elegantly capture timely stories about economics, politics, science, etc.)
  • Storify - https://storify.com/ (a free tool for making coherent narratives by dragging and dropping social media links)