The following is an older post that got lost a while back when the servers at my hosting company crashed. I’m starting to selectively restore some of those old posts whenever it makes sense. What is spurring me to get this one restored right now is that it focuses on futurist friend and colleague David Houle. David is a shining example of someone who really saw the potential for launching a whole new career using the tools of the social Web – along with a lot of hard work – and that is what he has set about doing over the past few years. Recently, he has been invited to blog over on Oprah.com. I encourage you to check out his posts over there and also to read on for a brief review of his book, The Shift Age. Here’s the original post:
Jamie Notter tagged me for the “What I am Reading” chain post (or “meme”) that is making its way around the blogosphere. I’m generally not a fan of participating in these things, but given how important reading widely is to the work I do, this seems like one that can easily fit into the context of Hedgehog & Fox.
I usually have three or four different books going at once, but the main one I’ll mention in this post is The Shift Age, an exploration of “the new age that humanity has entered,” recently released by friend and colleague David Houle. The “What I am Reading” meme also requires that participants quote sentences 6-8 of page 123 of the book discussed. Here are those sentences (more or less) from David’s book:
If, however, electric and hybrid cars can look and drive great, more people will buy them. And the goal, of course, is to get the largest percentage possible of drivers to use such cars.
Actually, quite a bit of information about the book can be extrapolated from those two sentences. First, the book is fundamentally about change—both what drives it and what form it will take over time. Second, technology and energy are at the core of much of the change that David examines in The Shift Age, and electric and hybrid cars are tangible near-term signs of the major changes afoot in these areas.
In general, The Shift Age paints a picture of a new era of human history that is fundamentally different from the agricultural, industrial, and informational eras that preceded it. As David sees it, there are three essential forces that shape this new age:
- Accelerating electronic connectedness
- The flow to global
- The flow to individual
It is the last force—the flow to individual—that is of most interest to me, mostly because I think this is the change that most people still do not quite comprehend. It is the “user revolution” that John Hagel talks about; it is the driving force behind the “disintermediation” that David examines in The Shift Age and discusses frequently on his blog, Evolution Shift. Primarily because of the incredible advances in technology over the past two decades, individuals simply have more power—or at least more potential for power—than ever before. We have yet to fully experience the disruptive impact this change will have on organizations, societies, and the world in general.
If you are interested in thoughtful commentary on how the “flow to individual” and other forces will “continue to reshape our world for the next twenty years,” I encourage you to check out The Shift Age and also to drop by David’s blog.
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