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Future Shock

As I have said earlier, writing is an old hobby of mine, much older than this blog. So a couple of days back as I was cleaning my old documents I discovered texts which I wrote during my engineering days when I did not have a PC, leave alone having this blog space to publish them.

I thought why not post them here on my blog now. I am starting with those which are already typed and ready (other which are handwritten will need more time). Here's the first write up in that series:

Future shock [written circa 2002-2003 at Age-21]

In his book Future Shock, Alvin Toffler talks to accelerated pace of change and describes how men/women, youth, children and even animals are being or will enter paroxysms or orgies of withdrawal from the society due to future shock.

He paints a horrible, dangerous and frightening picture of the seemingly insane society of tomorrow. He goes on giving instances to prove that the rate of rate of change is on the unending increase and how biologically and psychologically man is unprepared to handle this rate of change. Though he never mentions so explicitly, he probably believes that this accelerated trust and man’s inability to deal with it will take us toward doomsday scenario.

I feel I must differ, having been a witness to the bursting of the IT bubble. This is a classic case of how mankind pulled up with accelerated thrust. The coming of the Internet and the near arrival of the .com culture put tremendous pressure on all elements of the society. Traditional business houses were forced to change their dealing and marketing as well as intra-organizational strategies to make them more suitable or say compatible with .com model. The traditional consumer was pressurized to change his or her habit of regular visit to his or her neighborhood supermarket and start instead visiting a .com supermarket on the net. Students were pressurized to stop relying on printed text and libraries and the start surfing the net for their study material.

Techies behind all this knew, and still know that technologically the concepts of e-society (The superset of e-commerce, e-governance e-shopping and e-business etc.), were and are completely achievable with the current state of technological advancement. The only requirement was the investment which the initially they were able to bring in.

But in spite of all technological possibilities, the .com bubble burst. Let it be a clear that the world has not an outrightly rejected the .com or the wired world concept but has only delayed its coming. The pace of change has been rejected. As all industry majors are that what was destined for the next two years will now take place in the next ten years, thus change is not rejected. Man is an intelligent animal and society hence behaves in a very mature manner by simply regulating change in itself so as not to enter future shock.

Change is a manmade man-stimulated process and hence will always be under its explicit as well as implicit controlled of mankind. Explicit control is exercised when governments or the other regulatory organizations guide the direction as well as the pace of change. An example how the implicit control may be executed was seen when the .com bubble burst – all sane individuals at their own personal level rejected unnecessary or premature changes.

Nevertheless one can never always overlook the possibility on factors beyond human control sitting up a chaotic environment, for example, in case of accidents or Natural disasters. And hence the significance of the studies by Alvin Toffler and the likes of him. Man made change is organized chaos but technological accidents (like Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Bhopal, Chernobyl or the September 11 WTC) which have worldwide impacts as well as natural disasters, lead to uncontrolled chaos. To deal with such cases as well as natural disasters it is necessary to study human response to both over-stimulation and underestimation.

Prologue: [posted by me today Dec 08, 2008]
Today we are sitting at another trough of the economic cycle - another recession, similar to the .com bust when then above article was written. Looking back I still believe I was correct in what I wrote above. However, I think even Alvin Toffler has ben vindicated. I can compare what Toffler calls 'paroxysms or orgies of withdrawal' with the rise of terrorism, intolerance and other similar syndromes (university killings [1][2]).

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