Power Shift by Alvin Toffler
Toffler targets Power as his unifying thread, however what he ends up weaving seems less a fabric, and more just clippings of threads that start and do not fold back into his thesis. He would have been better served by stating his assumptions first, and using that as his framework.
Still, I cannot help but enjoy his real-fiction trend extrapolations. I suspect that most who read Asimov's Foundation series would like Toffler's works.
Twenty years ago General Motors was regarded as the world's premier manufacturing company, a gleaming model for managers in countries around the world and a political powerhouse in Washington. Today, says a high GM official, "We are running for our lives." We may well see, in the years ahead, the actual breakup of GM.
A revolutionary new system for creating wealth cannot spread without triggering personal, political, and international conflict. Change the way wealth is made and you immediately collide with all the entrenched interests whose power arose from the prior wealth-system.
A slavemaster or feudal lord transplanted from antiquity into today's world would find it hard to believe, even astonishing, that we beat workers less -- and they produce more.
In sum, the rise of the industrial nation-state brought the systematic monopolization of violence, the sublimation of violence into law, and the growing dependence of the population on money. These three hanes made it possible for the elites of industrial societies increasingly to make use of wealth rather than overt force to impose their will on history.
Simply to read was a fantastic achievement in the ancient world. Saint Augustine, writin in the 5th century, referes to his mentor, Saint Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, who was so learned that he could actually read without moving his lips. For this astonishing feat he was regarded as the brainiest person in the world.
In Florida and California, retail chains have fought blistering legal battles with banks over this issue. The central question their lawyers are asking one another is: "Who owns the customer data?"
The legal answers are not yet in. But one thing is certain: No one is asking the customer.
Cybernetician W Ross Ashby coined the phrase "requisite variety" many years ago to describe one of the pre-conditions for the suvival of any system. Today's systems simply lack the requisite variety to make it to the 21st century.
The fact is that, non matter how many parties run against one another in elections, and no matter who gets the most votes, a single party always wins. It is the Invisible Party of bureaucracy.
The monitoring of more variables, plus the enormous jump in data processing capacity made possible by computers, changes the problem facing political decision-makers from information underload to information overload.
At a time when the average urban worker in American earned 75 cents a day, a New York newspaper cost 6 cents, and not many could afford them...
On September 3, 1833, he launched the New York Sun and sold it for only one penny a copy. Day (Benjamin Day) unleashed a horde of newsboys into the streets to sell his paper -- an innovation at the time. For $4 a week he hired another printer to go to the courthouse and cover police cases. It was one of the earliest uses of a "reporter". Within four months the Sun had the biggest readership in the city. In 1835 he bought the latest technology -- a steam-driven press -- and the Sun reached the unheard-of circulation of 20,000 daily. Day had invented the popular press, crime stories and all.