In this volume edited by Tom Standage, the material is carefully organized and presented within three Parts. As "the revolutionary ideas of a few years ago have now become conventional wisdom," the focus in Part 1 is on the implications of widespread adoption of technology. "The growing ubiquity and sophistication of consumer-electronics devices is the topic of the second part of the book." That is to say, the emergence of "digital lifestyle" within a "digital home." Once information technology has percolated into everything (e.g. wireless sunglasses that double as head phones to radio-tagged cereal boxes), "what new technology will lead the next great phase of transformation, disruption, and creativity?" Then in Part 3, the focus is on various new "contenders" such as biotechnology, energy technology, and nanotechnology.
All of this material consists of various surveys and articles which appeared in The Economist between 2002 and 2005. "Collectively they illustrate how the technology industry is changing, how technology continues to affect many areas of everyday life - and, looking further ahead, how researchers in several promising fields are developing the innovations that seem most likely to constitute the future of technology." It is important to keep in mind that the value of survey results -- such as those generated by four surveys and provided in Part 1 ("Coming of age," "Make it simple," and "A world of work") -- is derived from what they suggest about what Joel Barker characterizes as "paradigm shifts." That is, the survey responses indicate both emerging and apparent trends and patterns.
Tom Standage and his seven collaborators are to be commended on the precision of their thinking and the eloquence of their writing. I especially appreciate, also, their caution when sharing their thoughts about the future of technology. No doubt they recall (as Standage does in the Foreword) "the hype of the internet boom [which contained] a kernel of truth, although harnessing the new technology proved harder and is taking longer that the cheerleaders of the 1990s anticipated."
Those who share my high regard for this volume are urged to check out Kellogg on Technology & Innovation co-edited by Ranjay Gulati, Mohanbir Sawhney, and Anthony Paoni. Also, Seeing What's Next co-authored by Clayton C. Christensen, Scott D. Anthony, and Erik A. Roth, Geoffrey A. Moore's Dealing with Darwin, and Constantinos C. Markides and Paul A. Geroski's Fast Second.
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Robert Morris (Robert1936)
Professionally, I am an independent management consultant who specializes in accelerated executive development and breakthrough high-impact organizational performance. I also review mostly business books … more
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From the industrial revolution to the railway age, through the era of electrification, the advent of mass production and finally to the information age, the same pattern keeps repeating itself. An exciting, vibrant phase of innovation and financial speculation is followed by a crash, after which begins a longer, more stately period during which the technology is actually deployed properly. This book examines the post-technology era, drawing on the best writing on technology that has appeared in The Economist * Part one looks at topics such as the "greying" (maturing) of IT, the growing importance of security, the rise of outsourcing and the challenge of complexity, all of which have more to do with implementation than innovation. * Part two looks at the shift from corporate computing towards consumer technology whereby new technologies now appear first in consumer gadgets such as mobile phones. Topics covered will include the emergence of the mobile phone as the digital "Swiss Army" knife; the rise of digital cameras, which now outsell film-based ones; the growing size and importance of the games industry and its ever-closer links with other more traditional parts of the entertainment industry; and the social impact of technologies such as text messaging, Wi-Fi and camera phones. * Part three considers which technology will lead the next great phase of technological disruption and focuses biotechnology, energy technology and nanotechnology.