Monday, May 07, 2012

Future Shock - Alvin Toffler

Sort of mixed feelings on this one. Found chunks of it really interesting, and chunks of it rather repetitive and boring.

The book first builds the case, that the rate of 'change' in our lives has exploded dramatically in the last few decades, and we have in-built limits on how much change we can cope with, beyond which we start reacting in atypical/sub-optimal ways. ( which the author describes as future-shock).

I liked the way, the general vague idea we all express - 'life is too fast/ there is too much change' is actually quantified over many chapters. If we compare our lives to someone living a hundred years go, the rate of change is huge. The noteworthy thing here, is that its the 'rate' being talked about, not the change itself. Its the number of items we use and discard, its the homes we change, its the number of people we meet/interact with , just to name a few. Its noteworthy that the book was written in 1970, and the case that he's made laboriously, is now increased by orders of magnitude, when we think of FB/twitter/email etc.

Its also an interesting read, because of the various interesting snippets of studies and factoids sprinkled throughout. Eg increased inductrialisation doesn't necessarily translate to increased uniformity or lack of choices.

However beyond the the fact that these changes exist, and are indeed increasing, there's still not enough to go on, in terms of what can be done about this. Of course, given the general idea behind future-shock, there's obviously not going to be any easy way to 'diagnose' it, or prescribe simple remedies.

Worth a read definitely.

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