Future Shock, The Third Wave, Powershift.
PUBLISHER: Bantam Books
PUBLICATION DATE: 1970, 1980, 1990, respectively
LENGTH: 561 pages, 537 pages, 611 pages, respectively
PAPERBACK PRICE: $7.99 U.S./$9.99 Canada
AVAILABLE FROM: Your local bookstore or www.bantam.com
Alvin Toffler is considered one of the world's best known social thinkers, and many critics believe that his ideas have significantly influenced contemporary thought. The books that comprise Toffler's trilogy are truly classics and should be required reading for all information and knowledge managers. Their central subject is change -- a constant concern for any manager. Future Shock looks at the process of change; The Third Wave explores the directions of change; and Powershift examines the control of changes still to come. The books may be read independently or as a set.
When it was written in 1970, Future Shock provided serious insight into the future; it still has relevance in 1999. "This is a book about what happens to people when they are overwhelmed by change. It is about the ways in which we adapt -- or fail to adapt -- to the future," explains Toffler.
The book is organized into six main parts: The Death of Permanence, Transience, Novelty, Diversity, The Limits of Adaptability, and Strategies for Survival. Of special interest to information managers might be such segments as The Technological Engine, Knowledge as Fuel, Information Overload, and Taming Technology. Many of Toffler's perceptions and concerns in this book have proved accurate.
The Third Wave is Toffler's perception of the information age. According to Toffler, "The first wave of change -- the agricultural revolution -- took thousands of years to play itself out. The second wave -- the rise of industrial civilization -- took a mere 300 years. Today history is even more accelerative, and it is likely that the third wave will sweep across history and complete itself in a few decades." Toffler adds that the "dawn of this new civilization is the single most explosive fact of our lifetimes."
Toffler organized this book into four major parts. Of special interest to information managers are such topics as The Paper Blizzard, the Organization of the Future, and A Destiny to Create. Since 1980 when Toffler wrote this book, information managers have created many "new third wave forms" and continue to do so in this rapidly changing profession.
Powershift, the final book of Toffler's trilogy, may have the greatest impact on information managers. Toffler describes it as "the culmination of a 25-year effort to make sense of the astonishing changes propelling us into the 21st century." Published in 18 languages, its content suggests that the "information age" is evolving into the "knowledge age." The critical question posed to the reader is how to manage knowledge; the book's six parts attempt to answer that question.
Of special interest to the information manager is Part Three: The Information Wars, which deals with such topics as Mobilizing for Electronic War, The Rise of InfoMonopolies, Levels of Combat (which discusses the chief information officer's role), and The Ethics of Information.
Toffler contends we are witnessing one of the most important changes in the history of power. "For it is now indisputable that knowledge, the source of the highest-quality power of all, is gaining importance with every fleeting nanosecond."
Each of these books reflects thorough research, with several pages of reference notes, and an extensive bibliography.
Toffler's books are not necessarily quick reading, but they are clearly written and always interesting. All three books relate to the future of information management, particularly the critical role that managers currently play and will continue to play into the perplexing new century.
James C. Bennett, Ed.D., CRM, FAL is a professor in the College of Business Administration and Economics at California State University, Northridge. He may be contacted at James. Bennett@csun.edu.
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|Author:||Bennett, James C.|
|Publication:||Information Management Journal|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Apr 1, 1999|
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