Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Blogging is "prosuming": a review of Alvin Toffler's Revolutionary Wealth"

Do you sometimes feel that institutions (education, the courts, labor unions, Church, politics, marriage, and the economy) in our midst are unraveling and can’t seem to cope with society’s emerging problems? Do you wonder whether or not power relationships among people and within organizations are changing? Do you increasingly feel stressed out by the bewildering speed of change in the workplace and in society as a whole? Do you increasingly feel that uncertain about the economic prospects of your country?

If many are asking these questions, it’s because—according to futurist Alvin Toffler in his book Revolutionary Wealth: How it will be created and it will change our lives—our relationship to “deep fundamentals” like time, space, and knowledge are rapidly transforming, thanks to the accelerating revolution in information technology. And while there are emerging challenges, the same transformation under way are actually ushering a new way of creating wealth that could potentially alter our lives for the better.

Because of the information revolution, economic transactions are getting faster and some are desynchronizing. For instance, new financial instruments are emerging to the consternation of bureaucrats who discover that existing laws are inadequate as basis for regulations. Textbooks are increasingly becoming obsolete with the emergence of new knowledge and information that are published daily in the Internet. The spatial dimensions of economic activities are also changing with wealth creation increasingly shifting towards the Asia-Pacific Region. Because of breakthroughs in digitalization, it’s easier to shift economic activities to low-cost locations and that’s creating lots of insecurities in the West. Wealth itself is increasingly determined by knowledge and innovation but knowledge itself and tools to generate it are transforming fast.

This sounds unsettling for people who long for stability and progress. But Toffler says mankind’s march to prosperity is set to continue and accelerate through the phenomenon he calls “prosuming.” Increasingly, people are creating their own products and consuming them.

Examples of presuming include parenting, blogging, designing open source software, caring for the sick for free, volunteering for worthy causes, among others, and a lot other activities that are currently not reflected in the money economy. Prosuming is set to explode to generate “revolutionary wealth,” especially as presuming enters the money economy. To those who are skeptical comes his reminder that the billions created by Napster, YouTube and Google started as hobbies by kids who were just trying to enjoy themselves.

This book could sometimes be a difficult read especially because one needs to recall certain ideas he introduced in his earlier works. It is necessarily difficult to present ideas that are supposed to usher us towards the future. Thus Toffler tends to cite so many examples and keep on repeating the outline of the book and keep us on track with the flow of his ideas. But overall, I recommend this book for anyone who wants to divine the future. I feel I’m a totally different person after reading it. You will see trends and events differently after reading this one.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, I have started a blog on Third Wave. You are welcome.