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Future Shock: 40th Anniversary

When I was 16 I now realize I read a book that changed the course of my life. That book was Future Shock. I was enthralled. As Fast Company noted this week, the Toffler’s predictions “included the “electronic frontier” of the Internet, Prozac, YouTube, cloning, home-schooling, the self-induced paralysis of too many choices, instant celebrities “swiftly fabricated and ruthlessly destroyed,” and the end of blue-collar “second-wave” manufacturing, to be replaced by a “third wave” of knowledge workers. Not bad for 1970.”

Future Shock (Orson Welles Intro to 1972 documentary)

“Future shock is the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time.”

I found Alvin and Heidi Toffler’s approach fascinating and the concept of futurism beguiling. I can still recall the cover(s) – a series of similar covers done in different shades of shocking orange, green or pink – innovative in publishing at the time. I later gobbled up the next book, The Third Wave and it set me off on a lifelong reading streak of reading the futurists and asking them to speak at conferences.

Anyway, hard to believe it has been 40 years!


Posted on: October 17, 2010, 10:18 am Category: Uncategorized

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  1. Heh! I was 14 when I read that … more than a decade after its first publication… I have a rather forward-thinking English teacher to thank for lending me his personal copy to read. You just made me think about how unusual a choice it was for him to pass on in my tiny rural high school.

    I vividly remember the bit where it told me that most of my contemporaries would be in jobs that hadn’t even been invented yet. I remember trying to tell my parents about it and asking them for advice about what I should do…