Choosing the publicity-stopover option to irritate policy-makers is a risky endeavor for FR. Because of its relative proximity to the political system, FR could be regarded as selfishly undermining its privileged position in the realm of policy advice. If you can talk to decision makers on a direct way, it is suspicious to look for detours. Generally speaking, the success of the publicity-stopover option is dependent on finding a relevant public; this was part of PP’s irritation expertise.
At first sight, for FR as instrument for policy development only policy-makers appear to be a relevant recipient. The publicity-stopover option is characterized by indirectly irritating a focal system via a relevant public that is assumed to have an influence on the original target. This seems to imply that a relevant public already exists. Some topics, such as the Offshore-Leaks revelations, may be able to shock any public. With regard to the issues FR is dealing with, this is unlikely. In other words, there is no relevant public available that could serve as a stopover or shortcut. Thus, the first thing FR might learn from PP is how to produce a relevant public with means of recipient design.
A central problem FR has in convincing others is the alleged missing urgency of its recommendations. A first step to work on this perception could be to make public the relation between present decisions and possible futures. The creation of a Futures public is a prerequisite for making use of the publicity-stopover option. This would facilitate to reveal that a certain decision was made at the expense of future generations, societies etc. In order to gradually push decision makers from a short-term to a long-term perspective, a public insisting on such a switch would be helpful.
This leads back to the irritation strategy pursued by PP. Irritations in general disturb the usual way of processing information. It needs something that stops an otherwise smoothly running routine. At the same time, though, this has to be something the target can be receptive to. According to this, PP’s recipient design with regard to producing publics is compelling. Trying to interfere with a public whose usual information processing works with rather short-term perspectives, videos, songs, or comic strips may actually facilitate to stop this routine, to think of prioritizing the long-term side. These formats principally allow for being irritated. Think of having seen a movie or the like that truly puzzled you. Often, this turns out to have no long-lasting impact. You exit the cinema and think of other things.
This is why the possibly most important lesson one can learn from PP is to be persistent. In order to really attract public attention, any one-off attempt will not do. For FR this means first and foremost to switch to a long-term orientation itself, to pursue (or: investigate) issues for a considerably long time and not switching from one topic to the next. Hinting at investigation again refers to the “quality dimension” of knowledge that obviously has a time dimension as well.
Resuming the means of “smart communication”, Da Costa et al. designated “timing” as a possibility to enhance the quality of FR’s input in terms of knowledge (“optimizing the signal”). Although this arguably was considered in another way, timing can as well mean that it might pay off to take more time. The same authors also proposed to make use of “attention-grabbing communication tools” such as graphics, videos and other multimedia materials. Yet, these were thought to irritate policy-makers in terms of the talk-into option and not as a means of preparing a potential stopover.
Producing a public that is interested in FR matters has another effect. Public participation plays a crucial role in the design of foresight activities. Yet, a recurring problem in this context is to find the right public to involve in procedures. Lezaun & Soneryd , for instance, pointed to the dilemma that those parts of the public who are informed and organized are not seen to represent the general public but to pursue their vested interests; those who are unorganized are uninformed and unable to form an opinion. In a similar vein, Bogner  points to the paradoxical effect that professionally organized procedures rarely are linked to public controversies, but build a kind of closed laboratory setting.
Looking at PP’s recipient design might also offer an opportunity to circumvent the procedural bias of participatory approaches to FR. In the long run, a public whose interest might had been awaken by attention-grabbing communication tools that again facilitated to maintain an involvement with a complex issue, recommends itself for taking part in procedures.
Of course, the creation of a formerly inexistent public is not the only possible stopover. Using (mass) media as disseminators is an obvious alternative. This would mean to convince them of the newsworthiness of FR matters. Thus, talking the media into disseminating FR recommendations yet again needed another kind of recipient design. This refers to FR’s newsworthiness and its capacity to connect to values such as proximity, relevance, immediacy, drama and so forth .
The term “immediacy” leads over to the question what to do if FR considers some of its recommendations as being urgent. We had to concede so far that the talk-into option generally takes time. Furthermore, with regard to the creation of an interested public, the publicity-stopover option might also work out only in the long run. Finally, it comes to obvious risks, if the publicity-stopover option is pursued to shock its target with the experience of a near-catastrophe.
There might be milder versions. Da Costa et al. referred to “improving reception” as another mode of “smart communication”. Drawing policy-makers’ attention to FR matters could be eased by connecting to topics that recently hit the media, referring to the BSE crisis as an example. This could reduce the risk of incurring the wrath of FR’s sponsors and clients as these were forced to deal with the topic at stake beforehand. More generally, talking about catastrophes obscures that the specifically relevant content of a persuasive irritation could be of a positive kind as well. An easy example would be trying to convince policy-makers that focusing on long-term perspectives could serve as a “unique selling proposition” in times of election campaigns.
All of these considerations refer to what the Foresight approach calls “shaping within boundaries” or the traditional “mode 1” of FR. This means that it should be closely connected to action and decision making, mainly targeting public policy. A “mode 2” of FR, on the contrary, seeks to promote fundamental changes in the current system, challenging the boundaries. Such a mode 2 approach would obviously have neither any difficulties in pursuing whatsoever type of using publicity as a stopover and not consider talking policy-makers into something an option.
Pang’s notion of “Futures 2.0” can be said to follow such a mode 2 strategy. Unlike Foresight or many other approaches to FR, Pang regards attempts that promote approaching policy-makers as a detour. To him, “the people who will shape the twenty-first century … are ordinary people” . Yet, the problem to overcome the vicious circle of first-order reflexivity remains: “No one will deny that the world needs to think and act as if the future matters. But getting people to do so is a challenge” . In one part of his concept—called “choice architectures and nudges”—Pang describes means of irritating “ordinary people”. He sketches on tools that “provide real-time information about users’ current states or performance; make visible option they have for changing their behavior; what consequences different choices would have; and even how their performance compares to neighbors or peers” . As an already existing example, he refers to fuel efficiency calculators available in some recent automobiles. Pang then applies these “nudges” on smart houses, for instance, that are able to display how close they are to being carbon neutral, to compare themselves to other houses in the neighborhood etc. .
Apart from fairly open questions such as how to program the exact consequences of certain actions or legal objections with regard to surveillance, this leads back to technology design and likewise away from recipient design. In other words, Pang opts for a technological solution to a communicative problem: how to push others (be it ordinary people or social systems) in a direction not chosen voluntarily.
On the contrary, the contribution at hand exclusively focused on communicative problems and solutions which are summarized in the following section.