Notes on 4 Archetypes and Wildcards
Four Images -> Four Systems
Dator's four images of the future  can be reformulated as the four different potential outcomes of any given system:

      1) The system continues unrestrained
      2) The system crashes
      3) The system slows, necessitating greater feedback and control.
      4) The system gives way to a new system

For the experimental campaign finance scenarios,  "campaign finance" was the system in question, and the macro environment was held as more or less constant. There was no global mind change, no depression, no greening of America.  The variations in the 4 scenarios were variations in the system of campaign finance. By holding the macro as constant, and the issue as the variable the result seemed to work well for a narrowly tailored issue like campaign finance reform.  For a broader issue like "selecting political leaders" then a more conventional application of the 4 generic scenarios would work better.

This seems to be a good solution to creating plausibly different alternatives for short term scenarios or very specific issues. And truth be told, many scenario writers seem to adjust the depth and scope of their scenario depending on the scale of the issue they are grappling with. But I haven't seen someone lay out a nice explicit methodology that actually describes what they are actually doing.

The 4 systems approach seems to work fairly well for very concrete problems, but whether it could be scaled up to handle some of the more extreme future possibilities was a question worth investigating. So what I did as an experiment was take the 80 Wildcards in Petersen's Out of the Blue, and try to develop a means of sorting and classifying them within the confines of my "4 systems" approach. Ultimately, the point of doing all this was to find a way in which wildcards could be tightly integrated with a scenario creation process.

Wildcards are a great way to generate out of the box thinking, but I haven't yet come across a good way in which they are integrated into scenario work. Doing "4 scenarios and Wildcard" seems to treat the Wildcard as a secondary event that can be brushed aside in order to focus on the "realistic" scenarios. Petersen seems to advocate using a purely Wildcard approach, which brings to the forefront some of the critical what if's, but this approach seem to miss the benefits that come from a more structured exploration of alternative futures.  

Definitions of the 4 Systems
So what I did was try to sort Petersen's 80 Wildcards into my 4 futures systems categories.  I used the following loose definitions to achieve the 1st basic sorting:

Continuation. Innovation in a System.
    Wildcards involving some sort of innovation, advance, or an acceleration of a particular system. Incremental progress and growth is the dominant idea of the official future, which is why many innovations make sense in this category.

Collapse. Interruption of a System.
    Wildcards involving a collapse, or interruption, or destruction of a particular system. Nothing new is being added, instead a critical system element is being interrupted or removed.

Sustainable. Change against the Status Quo.
    Wildcards involving the system changing and trying to seek a new equilibrium. New advances are not specifically the central issue of these wildcards. Instead, these wildcards involve a change in the relationships between system elements.  

Transformation. Paradigm Busting Change.
    Wildcards involving paradigm shifting change for a system. More than incremental advances, Transformational wildcards involve entirely new understandings or a new set of dynamics that can last for generations.

At this point you might want to skip ahead to the tables to see which Wildcards actually went where.

Generic Wildcard Descriptions
With everything sorted, the next step was to try to construct more generic descriptions of what changes to the system the Wildcards were reflecting. As I see it, the problem with the wildcards is that they are almost too specific - they seem like one-off events that just happen....out of the blue  But, after a bit of reflection, it seems that many (if not all) of the Wildcards can fit into more generic descriptions.

The generic descriptions help to categorize new Wildcards, and give a structured way to approach Wildcard phenomena. While Petersen's 80 Wildcards are not all-inclusive, they do provide very good test bed to generate the basic generic statements.

For Continuation, most of the "advances" could be shoehorned to fit under the statement "Advance in Technological System".  There are a few exceptions to the rule, which I still have to ponder, but at this point it seems fairly plausible that Wildcards involving incremental technological innovation can legitimately be placed in this category.

For Collapse, the generic categories seemed to come quite naturally.   The generic descriptive statements varied in geographic scope, as well as system category. All collapse Wildcards seemed to fit very easily into the generic statement:
"Collapse of a  _______           ________ System"
  Global     Social    
  Regional Technological
  National     Economic
  Local     Environment

For Sustainable, a similar generic statement seems to apply. The same geographic sorting could be applied (although the Sustainable Wildcards in Out of the Blue pretty much seemed to apply on the National level) - and so can the STEEP categories.
"Changing Balance of a _________     ________ System".  
In the tables the geographic scope has been omitted to reduce redundancy.

For Transformation, the locality seems not to be an issue, and the STEEP categories don't seem to naturally apply.  The statement becomes:
"  Transformation of ___________"
            Human Potential
            The Physical Paradigm
            The Human/Other Relationship
            The Environment

These categories seem inclusive, but there is certainly room for additions....

Integrating Scenarios and Wildcards
Resorting and categorizing the Wildcards in this way seems to accomplish several things:

   The framework of the generic statements gives hints at possibilities for new Wildcard scenarios. For example, more global or local Sustainable Wildcards would seem to be helpful. Further subcategorizing the fields of innovation in the Continuing scenario would also help in identifying (and closing) gaps in wildcards.

   The 4 systems categories allows an entire class of Wildcard scenarios to be addressed though one exemplar, as well as keeping the examination of superficially different (but fundamentally similar) Wildcards from being redundant.

   With the sorting, the Wildcards seem to fit into the basic system dynamic theme for each scenario. Hopefully this makes the Wildcard more of an extension of the basic mechanism of each Scenario Archetype, rather than an event that comes out of nowhere with no rhyme or reason.  While there is no logical reason why a collapse Wildcard is necessarily related to Collapse scenario events, it does seem to work from a rhetorical standpoint. The similarity sort of drives the point home.

Figuring out how the Wildcard integration would occur in a Scenario process would seem to be the next step. One thing that comes to mind would be to take 4 scenarios, and then select one relevant Wildcard for each scenario for further examination. With the alternative future mapped out with a fair degree of detail in the basic scenario, the  Wildcard could be presented as an event occurring within a given scenario.  

The 4 basic scenarios would have 4 wildcard appendices attached. These appendices would show how the actors in each scenario could and would react to the occurrence of a wildcard event.  It would allow the scenario to get fleshed out in greater detail, as well as allow for an examination of the fundamental issues involved in dealing with the selected wildcards.

Wildcard Tables  
Numbers Refer to Page Numbers in the 1997 edition of Out of the Blue

1) Continuation

34 Health and Medical Breakthrough Advance in Technological System
40 Birth Defects are Eliminated Advance in Technological System
42 Life Expectancy Approaches 100+ Advance in Technological System
52 Future Prediction Becomes Standard Business Advance in Economic System
58 Fetal Sex Selection Becomes the Norm Advance in Technological System
84 Computers/Robots Think Like Humans Advance in Technological System
102 Rapid Climate Change Advance in Environmental System
116 Technology Gets out of Hand Advance in Technological System
130 Global Financial Revolution (E-Cash) Advance in Technological System
134 Humans Directly Interface with Net Advance in Technological System
136 Encryption Invalidated Advance in Technological System
138 VR/Holography Move Info, Not People Advance in Technological System
146 Room Temp Superconductivity Arrives Advance in Technological System
148 Fuel Cells Replace Int. Combustion Engines Advance in Technological System
150 VR Revolutionized Education Advance in Technological System
154 Loss of Intellectual Property Rights Advance in Technological System
160 US Government Redesigned Advance in Technological System
162 E-Cash Enables Tax Revolt in US Advance in Technological System
170 Information War Breaks Out Advance in Technological System
180 End of the Nation State Advance in Political System

2) Collapse

30 Worldwide Epidemic Collapse of a Global Social System
62 US Economy Fails Collapse of a National Economic System
66 Social Breakdown in the US Collapse of a National Social Systems
70 Civil War in the US Collapse of a National Political System
72 Major US Military Unit Mutinies Collapse of a National Social System
88 Asteroid Hits Earth Collapse of a Global Environmental System
90 Ice Cap Breaks Up Collapse of a Global Environmental System
96 Extraordinary West Coast Natural Disaster Collapse of a Local Technology System
98 Long Term Global Communication Disruption Collapse of a Global Technology System
100 Global Food Shortage Collapse of a Global Technology System
108 Major Information Systems Disruption Collapse of a National Technology System
110 A New Chernobyl Collapse of a Regional Environmental System
114 Collapse of the World's Fisheries Collapse of a Global Environmental System
120 Break in the Alaskan Oil Pipeline Collapse of a Local Environmental System
126 Stock Market Crash Collapse of a National Economic System
144 Massive Disruption in Nat'l Electrical Supply Collapse of a National Technology System
156 Africa Unravels Collapse of a Regional Social System
158 Collapse of the US Dollar Collapse of a National  Economic System
164 Collapse of the UN Collapse of a Global Political System
168 Israel Defeated in War Collapse of a National Political System
172 Russian Civil War goes Nuclear Collapse of a National Political System
182 Mexican Economy Fails and US Takes Over Collapse of a National Economic System

3) Sustainable

36 Bacteria become immune to Antibiotics Changing Balance of an Environmental System
38 Long Term Side Effects Discovered Changing Balance of a Social System
56 Altruism Outbreak Changing Balance of a Social System
94 Nuclear Terrorists Attack the US Changing Balance of a Political System
68 Rise of an American "Strong Man" Changing Balance of a Political System
74 Econ. and Envir. "Criminals" Prosecuted Changing Balance of a Social System
76 Growth of Religious Environmentalism Changing Balance of a Social System
78 New Age Attitudes Blossom Changing Balance of a Social System
80 End of Intergenerational Solidarity Changing Balance of a Social System
92 No Carbon Economy Worldwide Changing Balance of an Economic System
104 Computer Manufacturer Blackmails Country Changing Balance of an Economic System
106 Terrorism Goes Biological Changing Balance of a Political System
112 Terrorism Swamps Government Defenses Changing Balance of a Political System
118 Inner Cites Arm and Revolt Changing Balance of a Political System
122 Illiterate, Dysfunctional New Generation Changing Balance of a Social System
128 Hackers Blackmail the Federal Reserve Changing Balance of an Economic System
132 2nd World Nation Demo's Nanotech Weapons Changing Balance of a Political System
150 Cold Fusion Embraced by Developing Country Changing Balance of an Economic System
166 Religious Right Political Party Gains Power Changing Balance of a Political System
174 Mass Migrations Changing Balance of a Social System
176 Western State Secedes from the US Changing Balance of a Political System
184 Society Turns Away from the Military Changing Balance of a Social System

4) Transformation

32 Human Mutation Transformation of Human Potential
44 Arrival of ET's Transformation of Human/Other Relationship
46 Return of the "Messiah" Transformation of Human/Other Relationship
48 Life in Other Dimensions Discovered Transformation of the Physical Paradigm
50 Human Genetic Engineering Arrives Transformation of Human Potential
54 Time Travel Invented Transformation of Human/Other Relationship
82 Self Aware Machine Intelligence Developed Transformation of Human/Other Relationship
86 Earth's Axis Shifts Transformation of the Environment
94 Gulf Stream Shifts Location Permanently Transformation of the Environment
124 Nanotechnology Takes Off Transformation of the Physical Paradigm
140 Faster Than Light Speed Travel Transformation of the Physical Paradigm
142 Energy Revolution Transformation of the Physical Paradigm
164 Collapse of the Sperm Count Transformation of Human Potential