Monday, April 5, 2010

Future Shock

I've recommended it several times before.  Future Shock, by Alvin Toffler.  If you haven't read it then put down the internet and go to your local library now.  You will understand the internet much better when you get back, and you won't miss much.  It is important enough that I bought a copy for myself at the used bookstore after I read the library's copy.

I rank this book and John Allen Paulos's Innumeracy as the foundational pillars of modern society.  If you haven't read these two books then you will be lost in a conversation about what is happening now, or why, or what will happen in the future.  Innumeracy tells you how to think with numbers.  Future Shock tells you why to think with numbers and how to make sense of the patterns you will see.

Everything changes.  Everything.  Today followed logically from yesterday, and tomorrow will follow logically from today.  You can't know enough information to accurately predict all of the little details of tomorrow.  But you can understand the trends and predict the broad stroke of the future's history.

So many of the arguments and fights that I see are caused by people who refuse to take a step back and recognize the inevitability of change.  Modern Luddites attempt to stop the future instead of preparing for it.

I'm starting a series of blog articles that I will title 'Future Shock Applied'.  I'm not claiming to be Toffler, or assuming that I can follow-up his seminal work.  But I think it will be interesting to analyze the controversies of today from the future's perspective.

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