The Information Revolution and the Arab World
Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research
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The revolution that is underway in the fields of information and communication technology is impacting on every nation. Until now, however, there has been little attention focused upon the effects of this revolution on the Arab world as a whole--a lack that this book seeks to redress. Leading academics and representatives of government and business have cooperated to produce this multi-layered exploration of the current state of the information and communication revolution and its effect on Arab states and societies. The volume offers a timely and in-depth analysis of a variety of technological themes which are having a profound and enduring political, social and economic effect on nations, corporations and individuals. These themes include global telecommunications trends and policies and their implications for national development; the information superhighway and education, business, the media and finance; cultural imperialism and the widening of the information gap; and the impact of satellite DBS TV on terrestrial television broadcasting in the GCC states.
Table of Contents
Introduction--Jamal S. Al-Suwaidi * The Information-Communications Revolution and the Global Economy--Lester Thurow * What Makes Arabian Gulf Satellite TV Programs? A Comparative Analysis of the Volume, Origin and Type of Program--Abdellatif Aloofy * The Contribution of Public Opinion Research to an Understanding of the Information Revolution and its Impact in North Africa and Beyond--Mark Tessler * Mass Media and the Policy Process--David Morgan * Triumph of the Image and its Aftermath: The Gulf War as Media Ecology--Hamid Mowlana * The Arab World and the Information Age: Promises and Challenges--Mustapha Masmoudi * Telecommunications Trends and Policies in the United Arab Emirates and Their Implications for National Development--Muhammad I. Ayish * The Impact of the Information Revolution on Society and State in Jordan--Sager Abdel-Rahim * The Age of Creation and Communication--Michel Saloff-Coste
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The impact of the information and communication revolution on society an state in the Arab World
english from General Introduction and Part One
Management for the Third Millennium
by Michel Saloff-Coste publish by Guy Trédaniel in France
Humanity has never faced a challenge such as the one we face today. It is not the destiny of a single civilization, nor of a single race, nor of a single nation that is at stake, but the destiny of each and every person.
We have the power to define that destiny, and while we now have the technological capacity to realize our oldest dreams, we also face the nightmare of annihilation by the weapons we ourselves have made. Now we experience a challenge in which we must risk ourselves, and either we will lose reality, or we will access our own essence.
In this game, we do not have the option of choosing double or nothing, for we will win the first time or not at all, as we will not have a second chance. The lightning progression of science accompanied by the consequent degradation of the health of the planet means that there can be no delay.
But perhaps the same technology gives us the power to create a global society without miseries, free of the labors for survival to which we have always been chained. How, then, shall we overcome the planetary crisis that we face, in which two-thirds of human deaths come from starvation; in which the surface of the globe touched by war steadily increases; in which each year a larger share of farmland is degraded into desert by the use of synthetic fertilizers, worsening still the earth's ecological balance?
While unconsciousness takes us surely and rapidly towards holocaust, we might save ourselves by transcending cultural differences and the selfishness that scatters our energies. Each day, by the efforts that we make in the full search for our humanity, we increase the odds of success, while each day that we pass in unconsciousness brings us towards nothingness. We face, ultimately, the choice between love and death.
This book presents a new approach to the reality that emerges today from the edges of our awareness to the forefront of a planetary awareness.
After the eras of hunting and gathering, agriculture, and industrialism, we are falling into a new type of society based on Creation and Communication. The beginning of a new era brings with it a flood of questions, including these:
• How does our current situation compare with the preceding stages of the development of humanity?
• What tools do we need to face the current context?
• How shall we use these tools to bring the peace and planetary harmony necessary for the survival of the species?
The time of change: Today there is a pervasive anxiety in the face of the increasingly rapid evolution of our society, and the changes that affect individuals, companies, and nations.
While the great majority of trades of tomorrow are unknown, the average person born into the next generation will change careers five times during their professional lives.
This kind of shift creates a problematic gap between those Who know how to take advantage of change, and those who, on the contrary, merely struggle to endure it.
As it is the capacity for innovation that determines the capacity to take advantage of change, this book is offered as a tool to help innovate in the face of change.
Change = Danger + Possibilities: The reaction to change, whether negative or positive, depends on how one looks at it.
While some see only the increasing dangers, while others see new possibilities, today's change is in fact the one and the other. States, companies, and individuals that concentrate only on opportunities seek to escape, and although might appear brilliant and successful, they accumulate problems that, in the end, undermine the appearance.
Conversely, to see only the danger is to fall into defeatism, blind and fruitless. These do not see that in change, the sources of problems also offer the means to find solutions, for change empowers innovation.
A tool to confront the dangers and to seize possibilities: The world has always changed, but as it changes increasingly rapidly, the very challenge of change is difficult to grasp. When things did not evolve so quickly, fixed technical solutions could be applied during the passage of many years even while remaining at the forefront of progress. Today, the lifetime of a solution is much shorter, and a great many proposed solutions are useless even before they are used.
The increasing speed of change is not the only cause, for with great change the world's complexity is also increasing, bringing the phenomenon of multiple interdependencies. Extreme specialization disappears down unknown and unmarked hallways in the vast universe of knowledge, emerging unexpectedly into other specialties, and there forming curious hybrids: biology merges with data-processing; physics with philosophy; history with mathematics.
Thus, we have to deal with an abundance of increasingly specialized and interdependent knowledge, and the very problem is that we have to confront an image of our knowledge, precise and sectored, that is rooted nevertheless in the multidimensional complexity of our new planetary society.
The challenge is difficult to grasp, and evolution is so rapid that it no longer offers time for reflection. The very complexity is so great that no duration is sufficient to understand it. Therefore, we must revise our approach to one of "reflection-action," even as change destroys our points of reference, and renders void our old reflexes.
The tension climbs, creating a great wave that is ready to break, a wave that can consume us, but is also a fabulous source of energy to drive us forward. It is necessary to have a surfboard and ride this wave, to confront the dangers and seize the possibilities.
The danger of formulas: The upheavals brought on by accelerating change have provoked an abundance of formulas, and one has only to open a business journal to find a catalogue of handy formulas ready to be applied to whatever problems you face.
Sadly, all formulas depend on mechanically following pre-established directives, and finally constitute a prison where one sits, blinded to the real dangers. With rapid change, the application of a formula takes time that likely renders the formula void even before it can be used.
It will not surprise you, then, to learn that the intent of this book is not to provide you with another formula. Rather than a predetermined itinerary, this book offers a map. It is for you and you alone to decide your path and your purpose.
The Grid of Evolution.
To understand and anticipate the great trends of today and the future, we seek to understand their origins in the past, for without a clear perspective of history, it is difficult to distinguish repetition from the emergence of truly new elements.
This look into the mirror of history allows us to measure the extent of the rupture that we are living through today. The first tool that we offer is such a mirror, a "grid of evolution".
The word "grid" is intended literally and figuratively. It is a grid, a matrix which presents the dominant periods and activities of humanity, and it shows, therefore, the grill upon which humanity has been cooking for these last millions of years. It is also a grid, a pattern that will be useful for decoding the emerging future.
A Tool for Understanding: The grid of evolution is a tool for understanding how we arrived at the current situation, the key characteristics of our time, and key trends of the future, for reflecting on the past enables us to develop tools that help us understand the present.
Using the grid, we explore questions concerning the past, present, and future evolution of humanity:
• How common are the ruptures that we see in history?
• Can we discern any pattern in their occurrence?
• Are we now experiencing a true rupture, or rather the mature development of tendencies that have been emerging for a long time?
We begin with the origins of human activity. For millions of years, human activity was focused on obtaining the food that came from hunting and gathering. Agriculture and animal husbandry were developed in the last 30,000 years, followed most recently by 300 years of industry and commerce. Today, creation and communication are the key activities in the developed economies of the world, for these are the fields in which more than 50% of the population works.
Each time the basis of the human economy changed, the tools, thought processes, perceptions, organizations, exchanges, and communications were then transformed, along with human values. As the values of a hunter-gatherer who travels following the seasons and the prey are different from the values of a breeder-farmer, who defends the land and remains in one place, so our emerging values are different from those of the industrial age.
Our own cultural perspective makes it difficult to comprehend the very process of evolving values, for a culture is a filter that enables one to ignore or discount the cultures of others, and of the past or the future as well. But because culture is our means of encoding our experience of the world, it is also our reality. Thus, to ask "What are the great stages that humanity has undergone?" prompts the question, "From the perspective of which culture do we ask?"
Thus, we must grasp our own culture in order to see the larger patterns beyond our direct perception, to therefore understand the changes that are cultural as well as economic. Just how our values are becoming different is a key point that we seek to illuminate with the Grid of Evolution.
The Grid: Human evolution is divided into 4 periods:
Hunting-Gathering: 3,000,000 years
Agriculture-Husbandry: 30,000 years
Industry-Commerce: 300 years
To analyze the characteristics of each period and the evolution of its corresponding culture and values, we have defined seven key characteristics:
TOOL: The extension of physiological capabilities.
POWER: The development of key factors in social and physical control.
EXCHANGE: The development of the means of exchanging goods.
REFLECTION: The development of the means of reflecting on and understanding reality.
COMMUNICATION: The evolution of the means of communication.
ORGANIZATION: The evolution of the organization of society.
HISTORY: Evolution of the means of understanding time and its passage, history.
By then creating a matrix showing the Primary Activities and the Seven Key Characteristics, we obtain the Grid of Evolution.
Activity Tools Power Exchange Reflection
Gathering Nails Harmony Barter Intuition,
Teeth w/nature Animism
Husbandry Arms Possession Metal Analogy
Legs of territory Coins Monotheism
Commerce Visceral Availability Paper Rational
Senses of Capital Money Science
Communication Brain Mastery of Electronic Holistic
Nerves Data Barter Spiritual
Activity Communication Organization History
Hunting- Verbal Myth Prehistory
Gathering Word of mouth Tribe Circular time
Agriculture - Writing Monarchy Sacred history
Husbandry Manuscripts Kingdom Linear time
Industry- Audiovisual Democracy Secular history
Commerce Mass Media State Unified and uniform
Creation- Interactive Responsive Post history
Communication Software Networks Fragmented time
HUNTING - GATHERING
3 million years
For three million years, humanity's means of obtaining food was hunting and gathering. Since hunting and gathering takes place in small groups, innumerable nomadic and diversified cultures were isolated from one another, and so humanity was divided into a multitude of nomadic and diversified tribes.
In the Mediterranean basin where agriculture originated, there were few founding languages and several hundred dialects, while in North America where hunting and gathering continued into modern times, there were several hundred founding languages and several million dialects.
Teeth and Nails: In museums of prehistoric culture, flint implements remind us of teeth and fingernails, externalized and enlarged.
Harmony with Nature: Power in the Hunting-Gathering period requires the ability to live in harmony with nature.
Barter: The exchange of goods occurs through barter, or through mutual gift-giving rituals.
Intuition, Animism: The Hunter-Gatherer reflects intuitively, and identifies with the object of contemplation. This kind of thinking corresponds to animism, in which events, objects, and beings are seen as manifestations of spirits.
Oral, Word of Mouth: Communication is oral through the spoken word.
Myth, Tribe: Myths initiate individuals into the mysteries of harmony with nature, and belief in the same myths unites the members of a tribe. Myths are the essence of the tribe's intuition about spirits that exist in nature. Myths and the rituals connected with them, are the basis for the power structure within the tribe.
Prehistory, Circular Time: A tribe has no sense of past events, for there is no event-based history. Myths transmitted faithfully from generation to generation explain the cycle of seasons and all events.
Time is circular and so myths are separate from time. They do not embody time, but rather only the present moment, with no beginning and no end. They are immutable.
Although myths take very different forms from one tribe to another, their fundamental characteristics do not change.
Myths name the source, the origin of all things.
In tribal societies, myths are considered the "true" history, as contrasted with "false" history, or what happens every day. Truth lies in the myth, and not the day to day reality, which is exactly the opposite of the Western concept. For the Hunter-Gatherer, the events of daily life are only reflections of the original myth, embodied in time. Thus, the events of daily life are of little interest, and one neither attempts to count the days nor remember events as we have learned to do in Western civilization.
Consequently, tribal societies are detached from time. Their spatial mobility is balanced by unchanging loyalty to the creation mythology. The same rituals are repeated year after year to celebrate creation and to unite the tribe. The perfect rite is that which innovates the least and resembles most closely the original event.
Recently an exhibition of Australian art toured the world, and the works of contemporary artists (whose objective is maximum innovation) were displayed beside those of aboriginal artists (whose work displayed total fidelity to the same signs and gestures that have existed for thousands of years). The change of perspective associated with the change in primary activity from the hunting and gathering of the aborigines to our age of creation and communication was profoundly evident.
The advent of Agriculture-Husbandry brought with it a less mobile lifestyle. Cultivation made slow inroads on the wilderness, as humans gathered in larger and larger groups.
While the survival of the hunter-gatherer depended upon total mobility that permits tribes to follow the prey and the seasons, the survival of the farmer-breeder depends upon the definition of a fixed territory, and its defense. The hunter-gatherer survives through immersion in the wilderness, which requires total understanding, while the farmer creates a definitive boundary between wilderness and cultivated land.
Humanity, which had remained secondary to its mythology, begins to express itself, to keep count of the days, of the size of property, of the seeds to be planted and to be traded for goods. For the first time, written numbers appear, and with them, writing itself. We emerge from myth and enter history.
What made a change of this magnitude possible?
In the Mediterranean basin, the change from hunting-gathering to agriculture-husbandry took place as a great turning point during three ice ages. In fact, the workmanship of tools, perfected to a high point before the glaciations, regresses afterwards; as reflected in the cutting of flints lower quality after the glaciations than before, indicating that the culture and knowledge of the hunter-gatherer was lost little by little, even as agriculture and breeding were barely beginning.
Arms And Legs: Agriculture and husbandry are the start of the great period of development of tool-making. Agricultural tools are specialized extensions of human capabilities, as the power of the oxen and the plow replaces arms and legs for working the earth.
At the museum , we leave the Prehistoric department filled with its flints, and we arrive at the beginning of history. One of the first objects we find is an earthenware pot, shaped like two hands for holding things. The first wheel will soon make its appearance.
Possession Of Land: In the Age of Agriculture and Husbandry, power is established by control of land, which determines the amount of food and goods produced, whether it is cultivated by oneself, by hired labor, or by slaves. Power is no longer directly dependent upon the physical strength of an individual. It becomes important to defend one's land from a return to its former wild state, and from potential invaders.
Metal Coins: Goods are exchanged through another medium of exchange, metal coins struck with the head of the representative of the territory.
Analogy, Monotheism: With the development of agriculture and husbandry, and the appearance of numbers and writing, man ceases to have a solely intuitive relation to reality.
The age of Agriculture and Husbandry is accompanied by a shift to thinking and expression by analogy. Primitive intuition is no longer directly used, but indirectly applied to find analogies between the different worlds of the human, the animal, the vegetable, and the cosmic. Reality is grasped through a series of analogous concentric circles, of which humanity is the center.
Analogies weave comparisons among the different elements that make up reality. Comparison between the mineral world and the vegetable world, between the vegetable world and the living world, comparison of humanity and the universe.
Analogous thought becomes the foundation of medicine, philosophy, architecture, and all the subjects of knowledge. Internal microcosm and external macrocosm are linked by analogy through astrology, which is the principal factor in the traditional art of Agriculture-Husbandry.
This hierarchical homocentrism corresponds to monotheism: a single god, creator and director of the world, of whom humanity is the image and manifestation on Earth.
Writing, Manuscript: Writing on a variety of materials, including stones, skins, papyrus, parchment, and paper is the typical method of communication in the Age of Agriculture-Husbandry.
Monarchy, Kingdom: Subordination to a single monarchy unites the individuals of a kingdom. The monarch represents, by analogy, god of the realm, and favors its subjects with the use of land. The king is the divine representative of all the conquered lands: "the king is to his kingdom as God is to the world". The king holds all power, for the land belongs to the monarch and establishes his royalty, as well as his divinity.
The monarchical structure of "kingdom" becomes the prime organizational structure of the Agriculture-Husbandry period.
Sacred History, Linear Time: The writing of manuscripts brings the capacity to keep track of historical events. To the mythical stories that continue to be transmitted by word of mouth is added the written history of humanity as the incarnation of God on Earth.
Biblical writing is typical of the Age of Agriculture-Husbandry, in which only sacred incidents are taken into account.
Time becomes linear, with a beginning and a progression , an unfolding towards the future. This progression is not consistent, but speeds up and slows down according to the period.
Myths still explain the origin of the world, but because of the Bible the myth of the beginning no longer closes upon itself as a cycle. Henceforth, the origin is embodied at a single point in time through the history of sacred events. History has a beginning, marked by Adam and Eve, and develops through successive events up to the present moment, which itself becomes part of Sacred History. God is therefore embodied in time.
However, people are uninterested in secular events, and while history changes from circular to linear, it is nonetheless concerned exclusively with the sacred.
Secular history remains dormant, and does not flourish until the later stage of Industry-Commerce.
Industry and Commerce required 300 years to develop into the primary economic activity of Western humanity. Industry and Commerce brought globalization, as world populations became interdependent. Humans gathered in places called cities.
This period is characterized by duplication: duplication of writing through printing, duplication of value through paper money, duplication of materials through plastic, and duplication of consumer items through machines. Scarcity is replaced by abundance. This is the age of mass production.
Visceral Senses: Our internal organs transform food into energy and other products that our body can use, just as factories use raw materials to produce energy and consumer products. Industrial infrastructure is the externalization and development on the societal level, of our metabolic functions.
Cameras, radios, telescopes, radar, thermometers, instruments of measurement, observation, recording and transmission are all extensions of our senses, outgrowths which allow us to discover a world beyond the range of our physiological limits.
During the industrial age, our internal organs are externalized: chemical factories transform materials by circulating them through long tubes, like the stomach; electrical circuits like so many sensitive nerves; cameras like so many eyes to show us the world.
Like the body's internal organs, the Industrial Age finds in natural resources the energy required to do its work.
Availability of Capital: In the Age of Industry-Commerce, the availability of capital defines power and therefore determines production capacity. One of the most difficult phenomena for the great landowners to grasp was no doubt the arrival of individuals completely detached from the land who nevertheless commanded enormous fortunes. With the advent of Industry and Commerce, power ceases, little by little, to be measured by the extent of one's land.
Paper Money: For a long time, paper money was only a voucher guaranteed by gold or some other asset, indexed to something of real value. Goods were exchanged through the medium of paper money issued by the state, which guaranteed the underlying asset value and convertibility.
First slowly, and then more radically, paper money developed in parallel to the industrial world. Gold became no more than a point of reference.
With the abandonment of the gold standard during President Nixon's administration, money was dissociated definitively separated from any connection with actual value, and became only a measurement.
Paper allows the power to swing towards the ownership of capital, even though paper money has exchange value entirely without intrinsic value. Thus, for the first time exchange value and real value are completely separated.
Gradually, it has become clear that in spite of its lack of intrinsic value, money does creates a sort of monetary value from its exchange value itself.
The value of paper money is now a reflection of an abstract and psychological notion of power or economic reality of the countries that issue it.
Rational science: During the Enlightenment, humanity adopts a new kind of thinking which becomes the basis of modern science. The principal factor in the development of this kind of thinking is rationality. In the same way that analogy used intuition to draw comparisons between different fields of reality, rational thought employs analogy to link a field of reality to a theoretical system that explains and reveals the elements of cause and effect which direct it.
The Age of Industry-Commerce is thus accompanied by rational thought. Through increasingly refined analysis reduced to its smallest parts, rationalism has as its goal to explain practical phenomena by theoretical concepts related logically to cause and effect.
Analogy no longer links and compares different aspects of nature, but instead links practical phenomena to their explanation by theoretical concepts. Reality is understood to be a vast rational mechanism, and this materialistic vision corresponds to scientism.
During the Age of Industry-Commerce, analogy is relegated to the status of antique. The sciences and arts that are linked to analogous thought such as alchemy and astrology are discredited, and no longer cited as examples except to illustrate medieval abstruseness.
As the Age of Industry and Commerce did not reject agriculture, but only used it in a different way, rational thinking retains the contributions of analogous and intuitive thought, and employs them to different ends. Intuitive thinking defines the theory, to ascertain the meaningful structure underlying concrete phenomena. Analogous thinking is constantly used to relate events to their practice and causes in theory.
Analogous thought leads to the abandonment of animism and the growth of monotheism. Rational thought, because it tries to grasp reality as a vast mechanism directed by cause and effect and comprehensible through rational scientific theory, takes God out of reality. Man of the Industrial-Commercial Age believes above all in scientific rationalism.
Monotheism drifts towards atheism....
Audiovisual, Mass Media: Communications methods typical of the Age of Industry-Commerce are all the visual and auditory methods distributed by the mass media.
Democracy, State: The great organization of the Industrial-Commercial Age is the democratic State. Once power ceases to be linked to land ownership, the former power base of land owners must cede to industrialists and businessmen who need to develop the democratic State to guarantee liberty as well as property rights, which are necessary to both Industry and Commerce. The fact of being citizens of the same democracy unites individuals in a State. Democracy guarantees citizens ownership of capital. Democracy rationally manages the State and organizes its power.
Secular History, Uniform Time: The scientific approach permits a more and more detailed picture of the history of humanity. History no longer regards only sacred events, but attempts to encompass all aspects of life.
In the scientific view of history, time is no longer a linear continuum with a start, a finish, and momentary colorations along the way as conceived by sacred history. Instead, time becomes a neutral continuum, uniform, with neither start nor finish, without local characteristics, unvarying everywhere, and divided into universal entities: hours, minutes, seconds, nanoseconds, etc.
While Agriculture and Husbandry invented linear sacred history, Industry and Commerce, through science, introduced linear secular history. In fact, scientific time radicalizes religious time. From this time forward, all the details of human history are recorded, not only "divine" events.
Beginning in the 18th century, humanity discovers the world through the principals of a linear and uniform space-time continuum on which is superimposed the great mechanism of the world, whose workings it struggles to comprehend.
History itself is established as a science which reveals the mechanisms of reality. Historical research finally embraces all aspects of life, and attempts to compile information on all cultures.
With one great leap, an outburst of encyclopedic effort, history sets its sights on the universal.
The Industrial-Commercial Age was, through mass duplication of objects, messages, and entertainment, a period of standardization without precedent. This standardization is linked with the idea of universalism, and of a mechanical reality in a linear and uniform space-time continuum.
Today, however, the tendency is reversed. The Age of Creation-Communication is a time of decentralization. Interactive communications allow individuals to exchange, to communicate, and to work in real time from any point on the planet. Humanity regroups itself into responsive networks.
Just as the Industrial-Commercial wave transformed Agriculture-Husbandry towards industry and commerce, the new wave of Creation and Communication is changing Industry and Commerce through flexible automation, which liberates industry from the restraints of human labor and enables humans to concentrate more and more in the areas which are uniquely human, that is, Creation and Communication.
The creation of products of intangible value and their communication is becoming the great human endeavor.
While duplication characterized the Industrial-Commercial Age and is still important today, it is certainly not the most important characteristic of our time. Today, the phenomenon of mass consumption is surpassed by the development of interactivity, which allows the consumer to design an object and to order it for future delivery directly from a factory, which, thanks to the flexibility of automation, can furnish this unique object at a reasonable cost.
Similarly, interactivity in communications offers every individual greater and greater freedom of expression. Individuals are no longer passive receivers of messages, but can intervene and become themselves the originators of messages.
Mass media, which dispersed their messages over a multitude of passive recipients, are replaced in the end by networks where all consumers are connected directly to one another free of hierarchy, each able to control transmitting and receiving.
Since the entire educational system which has shaped us dates from the Industrial-Commercial Age, our upbringing has not given us the conceptual tools to understand the Age of Creation and Communication which surrounds us. What is becoming clear today is the discovery of a universe which is not homogeneous and uniform but made up of a multitude of ruptures and incomparable micro-realities. Social reality has splintered, each individual uprooted, nomadic, disengaged from pre-established groups, which has brought forth the crises of nationalism and all the "isms", including and especially that of universalism.
Physical science, which formed the solid conceptual foundation of a homogenous and linear space-time, brings into question those very premises. Modern physics causes us to discover a fractal universe where each incident occurs in a unique space and time.
However, these independent micro-realities, located more or less each on a different plane, interact one with another.
Brain, Nerves: During the Industrial-Commercial Age, surgery and medicine sought to understand the organs of the body, and today the great frontier of exploration is the human brain.
As our nerves transmit and process information on the human scale, the transmission of data by cables and satellites, and the computers which process the information constitutes a gigantic nervous system at the planetary scale. Once man externalized all his internal organs through tools, the only tool left to invent was an extension of the brain, and now our brains are connected to each other by this vast data infrastructure, externalizing our brain capacity as well.
The Age of Creation and Communication is associated with the development of computers, beginning with the appearance, in the 1950s, of the first mainframes. With the micro-computer of the 1970s, has come the transformation of all human tasks. Now with the capacity to create networks of interactive users without regard to geographic limits, we are on the edge of a world of knowledge exchange without precedent, operating on a planetary level and at the speed of light.
Breakthroughs in computing lead to greater understanding of the brain, and vice versa. These two domains are likely to be even more closely linked by the appearance of the first biological computers which use live cells to transmit information.
Mastery of Data/Information: In the Age of Creation and Communication, power depends on the ability to master information. Mastery of information determines the creative capacity which in turn determines the quantity and quality of goods that can be produced. Therefore, the control of capital has become secondary.
For heavy industry, the conceptual part was minuscule compared to the investment in material infrastructure, but this has given way to an activity in which the material value is minor compared to the conceptual value. The former relationship between creators of concepts and capital contributors is reversed.
Businessmen and industrialists built up fortunes equivalent to land ownership over a much shorter time period through the accumulation of capital. This accumulation, while much more rapid, still required one or more generations. The cycle of wealth creation for the new "conceptual" entrepreneurs is measured not in generations but in years.
This speed short circuits and renders irrelevant the great economic habits of the Industrial Age, and brings into question the privileges, laws and customs that we have come to accept. Consequently, the entire banking system will be transformed from top to bottom. The Japanese banks that already understand this shift have broken through to become international leaders in just a few years.
Electronic Barter: Goods are now bartered throughout the planet by means of electronic networks, changing the very nature of exchange. Credit cards are a common example. Paper money is disappearing in favor of electronic bookkeeping, especially through the debit card. All this depends, however, on the persistence of the logic of paper money, even though the paper itself is replaced by electronic memories.
What is new is the appearance, or rather the reappearance, of barter. We are speaking of the practice, spreading throughout international as well as domestic markets, of exchanging goods in real time thanks to electronic networks. Thus, the United States has seen the birth of a whole new economy that bypasses traditional means, in which individuals as well as companies exchange goods via enormous electronic networks - a village square with the dimensions of a continent.
With email and electronic payments, each person has the capability of becoming a dealer, promoting and distributing products electronically.
This new exchange economy paradoxically resembles the barter of the Hunter-Gatherer.
Currency will not disappear entirely, no more than land ownership disappeared in the Industrial Age, but currency will slowly lose the dominant position it held during the Industrial Age.
Holistic, Spiritual: The Age of Creation and Communication introduces holistic thinking.
Through all-inclusive, systemic vision, the holistic approach attempts to understand the interactions that make up a field of reality. In this mode of thinking, the whole, instead of being destroyed by analysis, is brought to the forefront as greater than the sum of its parts. The rational analytical approach is henceforth used only as a secondary means to clarify the logical sequence of a specialized local sub-group within the system. We comprehend reality as a complex fabric of interactions.
In this approach, forms and objects tend to dissolve, and are considered only temporary solidifications of turbulent and subtle interactive processes. In contrast to the universal scientific approach which imposes the existence of a single objective reality in a homogeneous space-time continuum, the holistic approach sees the observer and the observed as interdependent, involved in a specific process, creating an original field of reality.
But there is not only one reality in a unique and homogeneous space-time, but a multitude of fields of reality, each with its own specific space, and its own specific time. The scientist's vision of a predictable, mechanical and cold universe gives way to the spiritual vision of a universe that is mysterious, living, fractal, and warm.
In the vanguard of the classical sciences of physics, mathematics, and logic, we grasp more and more the limits of rational thought, for the problems we face today are of an order about which discursive, analytical reasoning and rational segmentation is necessary but insufficient.
Whether we're talking about the microcosmic level of subatomic particles or the macrocosmic level of astrophysics, we are not dealing with cause and effect mechanisms, but with a whole of which all the elements are in perpetual interaction through specific space-time continuums.
For this new reality a new kind of thinking is emerging, "holistic" thinking.
In a previous age, rational thought did not reject intuition and analogy, but used them for its own purposes. In the same way today, holistic thinking employs rational thought and its dividing up of cause and effect, but not to clarify a particular segment of an inclusive system. Instead, holistic thinking is based on the recognition that any whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Interactive Software: The characteristic means of communication in the Age of Creation and Communication is interactive software. While the mass media of the Industry-Commerce period "industrially" distributed information from one point to all the others, interactive media in the age of Creation-Communication permit each individual to act as both receiver and broadcaster.
Responsive Networks: The Age of Creation-Communication brings decentralization and the development of spiritual awareness.
Individuals no longer feel themselves to be part of a territory, as during the Monarchy-Kingdom period, nor part of an economy, as during the Democracy-State period. What unites them is their "sensitivity", their specific way of comprehending data.
According to their level of awareness, or sensitivity, each person occupies a different field of reality, and the individuals who interact with each other organize themselves into networks that correspond to their common sensibilities - a semiocracy.
These currents of sensitivity holistically organize the network and distribute power.
* Adventures of a Bystander - Peter Drucker
* The Advent of Netwar - John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt
* The Age of Heretics - Art Kleiner
* "The Age of Social Transformation" - Peter Drucker
* The Ages of Gaia - James Lovelock
* The Alchemy of Finance - George Soros
* All That We Can Be - Charles C. Moskos and John Sibley Butler
* The Americans: The Democratic Experience - Daniel Boorstin
* The AMEX Bank Review
* The Art of the Long View - Peter Schwartz
* Artificial Life - Steven Levy
* Asia Rising - Jim Rohwer
* At Home in the Universe - Stuart Kauffman
* Being Digital - Nicolas Negroponte
* Beyond Free Trade; 1992, The Global Challenge - Albert Bressand
* Beyond the Limits - Donella Meadows
* "Bright Red" - Laurie Anderson
* Built to Last - James C. Collins, Jerry I. Porras
* The Case for Mars - Robert Zubrin and Richard Wagner
* The Cerebral Symphony - William Calvin
* Chaos - James Gleick
* "Chaotic Climate" - Wallace S. Broecker
* Charting the Corporate Mind - Charles Hampden-Turner
* City - William H. Whyte
* The Clash of Civilizations? - Samuel Huntington
* The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order - Samuel P.
* "The Coming Anarchy" - Robert K. Kaplan
* The Competitive Advantage of Nations - Michael Porter
* "The Competitive Advantage of the Inner City" - Michael Porter
* Complexity - Mitchell Waldrop
* Composing a Life - Mary Catherine Bateson
* Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity - Richard Rorty
* Creative Compartments - Gerard Fairtlough
* Crossing the Postmodern Divide - Albert Borgmann
* Cybercorp - James Martin
* Darwin's Dangerous Idea - Daniel C. Dennett
* Days of Obligation - Richard Rodriguez
* Degrees of Disaster - Jeff Wheelwright
* Democracy in America - Alexis de Tocqueville
* The Democratic Corporation - Russell Ackoff
* The Design of Everyday Things - Donald Norman
* Designing Interactive Strategy - Richard Normann and Rafael
* The Diamond Age - Neal Stephenson
* Digerati - John Brockman
* Discos and Democracy - Orville Schell
* The Discoverers - Daniel Boorstin
* The Dreams of Reason - Heinz Pagels
* Earth - David Brin
* Earth in the Balance - Al Gore
* "An Ecologist View of Malthus" - C. S. Holling
* The Ecology of Commerce - Paul Hawken
* Edge City - Joel Garreau
* The Electronic Word - Richard Lanham
* The End of Equality - Mickey Kaus
* The Ends of the Earth - Robert D. Kaplan
* Engines of Creation - Eric Drexler
* Envisioning Information - Edward Tufte
* The Fifth Discipline - Peter Senge
* The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook - Peter Senge et al.
* The Fourth Turning - William Strauss and Neil Howe
* From Beirut to Jerusalem - Thomas Friedman
* "Future Studies and the Human Sciences: The Case for Normative
Scenarios" - Jay Ogilvy
* Future Survey - Michael Marien, ed.
* The Futures of Women - Pamela McCorduck , Nancy Ramsey
* Fuzzy Logic - Daniel McNeill, Paul Freiburger
* Generation X - Douglas Coupland
* Generations - William Strauss, Neil Howe
* Global Financial Integration - Richard O'Brien
* Governing the Commons - Elinor Ostrom
* The Great Good Place - Ray Oldenburg
* Hidden Order - John Holland
* Holy Fire - Bruce Sterling
* The Home Planet - Kevin W. Kelly, ed.
* The Hot Zone - Richard Preston
* How Buildings Learn - Stewart Brand
* How Institutions Think - Mary Douglas
* The Idea of Decline in Western History - Arthur Herman
* In Pursuit of Happiness and Good Government - Charles Murray
* Industrial Ecology - Hardin Tibbs
* Infinite in All Directions - Freeman Dyson
* "Instruments of Change" - Jaron Lanier
* "Intellectual Property on the Net" - Esther Dyson
* The Internet Report - Mary Meeker, Chris DePuy
* Jihad vs. McWorld - Benjamin R. Barber
* Kinds of Power - James Hillman
* The Knowledge-Creating Company - Ikujiro Nonaka
* The Last Lion: Alone - William Manchester
* Leadership Is an Art - Max DePree
* Learning to Plan and Planning to Learn - Donald N. Michael
* The Leopard - Giuseppe Tomasi de Lampedusa
* Let the Sea Make a Noise - Walter A. McDougall
* Life After Television - George Gilder
* Life on the Screen - Sherry Turkle
* The Living Company - Arie de Geus
* Living Without a Goal - James Ogilvy
* Look at the Land - Alex MacLean
* Lords of the Rim - Sterling Seagrave
* Love Thy Neighbor - Peter Maass
* Making Democracy Work - Robert Putnam
* The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (videotape) - John Ford
* Mandate of Heaven - Orville Schell
* Markets - Martin Mayer
* The Media Lab - Stewart Brand
* Microserfs - Douglas Coupland
* Military Misfortunes - Eliot Cohen, John Gooch (March 1991)
* Military Misfortunes - Eliot Cohen, John Gooch (October 1996)
* The Millennium Whole Earth Catalog - Howard Rheingold, ed
* Mind Children - Hans Moravec
* Mind Grenades - John Plunkett, Louis Rossetto
* Mondo 2000 - Rudy Rucker et al.
* Mondo 2000 User's Guide to the New Edge
* Mont Fleur Scenarios - Adam Kahane
* Mountains and Rivers Without End - Gary Snyder
* MYST - Rand and Robyn Miller
* Nerve Net - Brian Eno
* Neuromancer - William Gibson
* Neuromancer (AudioBook) - William Gibson
* The New Century - Clem Sunter
* New Perspectives Quarterly
* The New Realities - Peter Drucker
* The New State of the World Atlas - Michael Kidron, Ronald Segal
* The New Urbanism - Peter Katz
* The Nissan Report - Steve Barnett
* No Nature - Gary Snyder
* Organizing Genius - Warren Bennis and Patricia Ward Biederman
* OTA Report on Technology and the Economic Transition
* The Other Path - Hernando de Soto
* Our Stolen Future - Theo Colburn, et al.
* Out of Control - Kevin Kelly
* The Outlook for Intelligence - Paul Valéry
* The Pacific Rim Almanac - Alexander Besher
* Passion; Passion Sources - Peter Gabriel
* A Pattern Language - Christopher Alexander
* The Perspective of the World - Fernand Braudel
* Planetary Overload - A.J. McMichael
* Post-Capitalist Society - Peter Drucker
* The Practice of the Wild - Gary Snyder
* The Prize - Daniel Yergin
* "A Rape in Cyberspace" - Julian Dibbell
* Regional Advantage - Annalee Saxenian
* Release 1.0 - Esther Dyson
* Release 1.0 - Esther Dyson
* Revolution in Military Affairs - Tom McKendree and Mine Z. Hagen
* The Rise of the Network Society - Manuel Castells
* Rubbish! - William Rathje, Cullen Murphy
* Russia 2010 - Daniel Yergin , Thane Gustafson
* Savage Inequalities - Jonathan Kozol
* Scanning the Future - Dutch Central Planning
* Scenarios: The Art of Strategic Conversation - Kees van der Heijden
* Scenarios: The Future of the Future (special issue of Wired)
* Science Fiction - John Clute
* Science in Action - Bruno Latour
* The Seven Cultures of Capitalism - Charles Hampden-Turner
* Shadow Dancing in the USA - Michael Ventura
* Signal - Kevin Kelly, ed.
* Signs of Life - Robert Pollack
* SimCity - Brøderbund/Maxis
* SimEarth - Brøderbund/Maxis
* Soros on Soros - George Soros
* Spin - Jaron Lanier , guest ed.
* Strategic Pragmatism - Edgar H. Schein
* The Structures of Everyday Life - Fernand Braudel
* Sweden at the Edge - Michael Maccoby
* Systems of Survival - Jane Jacobs
* Technologies of Freedom - Ithiel de Sola Pool
* "Technology in the American Household" - Times-Mirror
* The Third Culture - John Brockman
* The Transformation of War - Martin van Creveld
* Tribes - Joel Kotkin
* Trust - Francis Fukuyama
* Unbounding the Future - Eric Drexler
* Understanding Comics - Scott McCloud
* Us - Peter Gabriel
* The Virtual Community - Howard Rheingold
* Virtual Reality - Howard Rheingold
* Visual Explanations - Edward R. Tufte
* "The War After Byte City" - Michael Vlahos
* War and Anti-War - Alvin and Heidi Toffler
* Watchmen - Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons
* The Wheels of Commerce - Fernand Braudel
* Where Wizards Stay Up Late - Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon
* Who Will Feed China? - Lester R. Brown
* Whole Earth Review
* The Whole Internet User's Guide - Ed Krol
* Why Big Fierce Animals Are Rare - Paul Colinvaux
* Why Things Bite Back - Edward Tenner
* Wild Earth
* Writing Space - Jay Bolter
* A Year With Swollen Appendices - Brian Eno