How to Use the Future Scanner

What is the Future Scanner?

The Future Scanner is a community-powered resource that aggregates future-focused content from all over the web and makes it accessible by Year and Category. Examples of submissions (known as "scans") are predictions by experts, discoveries that will impact future events, product prototypes, industry forecasts/trends, useful resources, etc. Scans that receive the most votes appear on the front page, and users can keep track of the scans they've submitted and voted on via their user accounts. To submit a scan, vote on one, add a comment and participate you must make a user profile (takes only a sec) but anyone can visit and just enjoy the information.

The Future Scanner is a valuable tool for anyone interested in how a specific field is expected to evolve over time or how the world as a whole is expected to look at a certain time. Whether you're a business manager looking to adapt to rapid change, a student exploring which field to study, a politician reacting to disruptive social trends, a sci-fi author researching future scenarios or a professional futurist looking for broad information about a given topic, browsing the Future Scanner is the fastest way to find the information that you need.

Basically, all of us here at MemeBox (the network the Future Scanner belongs to) are totally into the future and believe that some crazy changes are coming - MemeBox is a place to learn about what the future will bring. Whether you're into the future of technology, fashion, sports or stock quotes, we're sure that there's something here that will interest you!

To learn more about MemeBox, visit the About page.

How do I make a user account and why do I need one?

To make a user account, simply click "Join" in the top right-hand corner of the screen. This will lead you to a questionnaire. Fill that out, submit it and you're set to go. The username you create is the one that will be associated with the scans you submit, comments you make, etc. You need a user account to comment, scan stories, vote, receive community emails, and generally be an active participant in the community.

What is this thing called "scanning"? How do I "scan"?

Scanning is what we say to reference submitting a link. This link could be to a news story, blogpost, scholarly paper, website, fictional story, or any resource having to do with or affecting the future. A common misconception is that the Future Scanner is only about predictions! While predictions are great, a scan that links to a cool sci-fi story, a website on theories pertaining to the future, or a discovery that may impact the future of a certain field are just as awesome.

In order to scan in a story, login using your username and password. Then click the button "Submit Scan" on the homepage OR go to My Profile (top right-hand corner) and click the Scans tab to take you to a submission page. Once you're there, fill out the form, click submit, and you've just added a valuable resource to our growing database! For more specific info on the fields required on the scan submission page, see the directions below.

You can also use our Future Scanner Toolbar Button or 'Bookmarklet' to scan easily while browsing the web.

Please take me, step-by-step, through the scan submission form

Not only is the Future Scanner a great resource for finding great links about the future, it's also a site where users can contribute and keep track of their own future-related links. To get the most out of the effort that you put in, it's very important to scan links properly, so that you and the MemeBox community can most effectively search through all of the future-focused content. Here are some tips to help get you started:

  • Headline: The headline is the most important piece of each scan. You can either copy and paste the existing title of the link that you are submitting, or create a new headline. It's often a good idea to create your own headline, as that allows you to quickly describe why the link is useful, what year it's related to, and whether it's in text, audio, video or some other format. And make sure it entices the audience!
  • Description: Your description should quickly summarize why the link you have submitted is useful and different than other similar information. What is the most interesting piece of information you discovered? What are the consequences of the information contained in the link? Once you have basically describe the link in question, you can then offer other useful nuggets from the link or add your own commentary or questions that other users can then react to. This can be as short as a sentence and as long as a paragraph, but the more detailed, the better!
  • Categories: MemeBox's list of categories includes topic areas such as Education, Government and The Web. You can choose up to three categories, but must select the most pertinent category as the Primary Category (directly below). If the link that you are submitting is very specific, then it's better to select just one main category, but feel free to add more if the content falls into multiple topic areas. For each of the categories you choose, you may select one Sub-Category from a list of more specific topics.
  • Years: Being that MemeBox is all about the future, it's essential that users make the best use of the Year feature. Any link related to a future year (2008 - 2020) should be marked accordingly. If your scan pertains to multiple years, then pick the most interesting year and describe it in detail as you fill in your description. However, many topics are not year-specific and will thus fall under General (like current events) or Beyond.
  • Scan Type: Choosing a Scan Type is the trickiest part of the Scanning process. The Scan Type indicates the specific nature of the link that you have submitted. Scan Types reflect the various forms of future-focused content on the web and include categories like Prediction, Forecast, Future Fiction, Event (like conferences, concerts, exhibits, lectures, etc.) and Media (audio, video, machinima, etc.). You can select up to three Scan Types, with one being the Primary Scan Type, and one Sub Scan Type for each.
  • Tags: Generally speaking, Tags should be used to include any specific information not included in the above categories. Think about search terms you would enter to find your post and enter as many of those as you can think of. Common tags include company names, proper names, project names, and other descriptive words important to the Scan.
How do I find the scans that interest me most?

If you don't have time get lost in the Future Scanner, the Advanced Filter bar is where to start your journey. From the homepage, click the Advanced Filter button. When the Advanced Filter Bar loads, choose the Year, Category and/or Scan Type that interest you (drop-downs are embedded in those buttons) and click Go. The results that load below will only pertain to the interests you specified. Keep in mind that the more specific you go, the fewer the scans that will appear in the queue. All the more reason to scan in links to help fill up the database!


  • If I'm interested in the general future of Biotechnology, I'll click Category, choose Biotechnology from the drop-down and click Go.
  • If I'm interested in the future of education specifically in 2015, I'll click Year, choose 2015, click Category, choose Education and click Go.
  • If I want to read specific predictions about the field of business and work in 2008, I'll choose the year 2008, the category Business & Work, the scan type Prediction and click Go.

If you're looking for something even more specific, use the Search bar on the top right of the homepage. We're continually working on improving the accuracy of our search function, so bear with us if in these initial stages search results aren't perfect!

How do I vote and what's the point?

In order to vote you must have a user account (see above). Once you have a user account, simply login (top right-hand corner of homepage, click Login) and click the up arrow on the left of the voting buttons. Upon clicking the up arrow, you show see the vote total increase by 1. If you want to make sure your vote has been recorded, click the up arrow again and if a screen pops up that says "Your vote has already been recorded" you'll know that it has.

Voting is a very important function for the Future Scanner, which is why we encourage all of our users to do so while browsing scans. Voting allows the coolest stories to rise to the top and make it to the front page, while forcing less cool stories to get filed into the database. Therefore, support the stories you like! You can also track the stories you voted on in your user pages under "Favorite Scans."

Uh oh, I spot a bug! How do I inform MemeBox Central?

We're always grateful when people point out errors, bugs, and other user issues with any of our applications. Please report these issues here in our feedback forum, which we check regularly.

What is RSS?

RSS according to Wikipedia:

RSS (formally "RDF Site Summary", known colloquially as "Really Simple Syndication") is a family of Web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as blog entries, news headlines or podcasts. An RSS document, which is called a "feed", "web feed", or "channel", contains either a summary of content from an associated web site or the full text. RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with their favorite web sites in an automated manner that's easier than checking them manually.

RSS content can be read using software called an "RSS reader", "feed reader" or an "aggregator". The user subscribes to a feed by entering the feed's link into the reader or by clicking an RSS icon in a browser that initiates the subscription process. The reader checks the user's subscribed feeds regularly for new content, downloading any updates that it finds.

How do I get category-specific RSS feeds?

To get a category-specific Future Scanner RSS feed that scans through the continuously updated newest and hottest overall scans (the ones that appear on the category's front page), follow the instructions below:

  • Bring up the page you're interested in either by navigating through the advanced filter bar or the category-specific buttons on the top of the page (for example, you could click New and Biotech to receive a feed for all the newest Biotech-related stories).
  • Click the orange RSS button on the masthead
  • Copy and paste the URL from your browser into your feed reader. For info on how to do that, see your personal reader as all of them are different.
Why is RSS so awesome?

RSS syndication allows you to keep track of your favorite websites, kind of like advanced bookmarking. Open your RSS reader (Netvibes, Google Reader, NewsGator, etc.) and you can read the top headlines from all your tagged sites in one spot. So if you stumble on a website or blog you want to keep track of, there's nothing easier than copying the RSS URL into your reader and being able to check in with it whenever you see an interesting headline.

What's up next for MemeBox?

Stay tuned for constant Future Scanner updates and the upcoming release of the MemeBox Blog Network!!

My question is still unanswered. What should I do?

Email any other questions to marisa[at]memebox[dot]com and she will guide you further.