Monday, July 30, 2007

Futurist Alvin Toffler on trajectory of history

American futurist Alvin Toffler is probably the first, or at least the most well-known, social thinker who explored in advance in as early as the 1970s, the consequences and impacts, both positive and negative, of Information and Communication Revolution (ICR) on human affairs. His magnum opuses like Future Shock (1970), Third Wave (1980) and Powershift (1990) are still being sold in bookshops all over the world, including Malaysia which, I remember, he visited in the 1990s.

As a fervent consumer of his books from the 1980s and 1990s, my critique of Toffler's and, by extention, Tofflerites' central idea of change in human society is that it is technologically deterministic although it has also contributed invaluable insights, from the perspective of modern sciences, into the world-historic connections between the past, present and future of the human conditions.

4 Comments:

Blogger kittykat46 said...

When I first read Alvin Toffler's "Third Wave" back in the early 1980's, I was still a teenager with very limited experience of life. My thoughts on his ideas were, Yeah, maybe.

When I re-read it 20 years later, I was amazed how many of his ideas have become reality, even though many of the technologies which enable it were either in their infancy or not practicable back in 1980.
Alvin Toffler's specialty is the interaction of Technology and Society, so he does have his limitations on other social perspectives.

6:19 PM  
Blogger James Wong Wing-On said...

You are right. Your experience is similar to mine. Toffler's books, like those of Karl Marx like the Third Wave have to be read repeatedly in different stage of life to gain more and more in-depth appreciation. But I think you do notlike or read Marx.

8:39 PM  
Blogger kittykat46 said...

My Dad once gave me a Reader's Digest subscription as a birthday present.
And a Time Magazine subscription as a present for getting straight A1s at school.
Too bad, lah, its turned me into a life-long right-wing Fascist. Maybe I will read Marx after my retirement....

These days, I give my daughters quite a balanced set of reading material...don't want to train another generation of Fascists..heheheh...

9:21 PM  
Blogger James Wong Wing-On said...

Toffler himself once acknowledges his intellectual debt to Marx (can't remember in which book but I am sure he did).

9:43 PM  

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