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No. of Recommendations: 12
It has been a long time between books for Alvin and Heidi Toffler, but the latest installment from my favorite futurists proved well worth the wait. 'Revolutionary Wealth' is not an investing book, but an updated view of the current direction(s) the world, it's peoples, and particularly its economies may be headed. An incredibly thought-provoking set of views on the future set in the context of recent and historical trends.

Toffler again puts forth his concepts of revolutionary change consisting of three waves with the latest 'Third Wave' being the movement towards a knowledge based society, the first two being the agricultural and industrial revolutions. That so much of the 'Third Wave' economy is knowledge based may seem obvious in the current internet age, but this was a concept he initially put forth in a same-titled book in 1984, with elements of the concept preceding it. I can't recommend this latest installment enough.

Some highlights:

Knowledge based economies. Toffler sees more and more products and services built on intangible knowledge. He sees larger and larger segments of the recognized money based economies built on knowledge structures i.e. those things that are inherently intangible and non-rival i.e. things not diminished by use and may be usable by relatively unlimited numbers of people or institutions at any one time. He sees conflict in this new 'third wave' economy with many of our current institutions such as educational systems, means of measuring production, and of course border based governments.

Globalization: Termed re-globalization in the book, a trend started in the early 1900s but interrupted by two world wars and a US depression. Toffler spends a lot of print on the factors that could potentially threaten the process. Globalization is more than simply access to cheap labor sources, but the increasing ability via communications and knowledge sharing tools to increasingly tap into the collective learning of the entire worlds population. He discussed why countries like India and China, those that have always emphasized education, has been more able to participate in the world's economies. He is critical of the 'traditional' methods employed by countries to escape poverty via a policy of slow progression through first (agricultural) and second (industrial) wave models, pointing out that India and China in many cases have jumped straight into the third wave of knowledge creation and use. He also has some positive things to say about what he see as the steady reduction of world poverty via essentially trickle-down economics.

Sources of Truth: A fascinating section of the book discusses traditional vs. new sources of truth. Many traditional sources of truth including consensus, authority, religion, etc. are more vulnerable to challenge from the realm testable truths like science, particularly as scientific knowledge builds and access to it increases.

Prosumerism: The 'prosumer' is a term Toffler puts forth as a increasingly interwoven combination of consumer and producer. He sees this as an increasing and largely unmeasured segment of the world's economy. It includes many segments of the non-money economy that nevertheless have economic effect including looking after loved ones; self-medical diagnosis, using an ATM or self-checkout (acting as both consumer and employee of the business), creating new software applications or businesses at home in ones free time (like say the internet browser or Napster). The discussions on the 'prosumer' economy are the books finest moments IMO.

Anyway, I've always been a fan of Alvin Toffler and was not let down by his latest offering. For those familiar with his past books, 'Revolutionary Wealth' will take some time to get going as he covers some old ground. But get started it will and leave you with a fresh and inspired perspective on the direction in which the world may well be heading and the challenges it faces en-route.

ZzF
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