Alvin Toffler's The Third Wave (1980) was frighteningly accurate. I'm still reading through it. At times, it makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Here are a few random quotes I wrote down:
'Never before have so many people in so many countries--even educated and supposedly sophisticated people--been so intellectually helpless, drowning, as it were, in a maelstrom of conflicting, confusing, and cacophonous ideas...Every day brings some new fad, scientific finding, religion, movement, or manifesto...We see a mounting attack on establishment science. We see a wildfire revival of fundamentalist religion and a desperate search for something...to believe in.'
'Today, instead of masses of people all receiving the same messages, smaller de-massified groups receive and send large amounts of their own imagery to one another. As the entire society shifts toward Third Wave diversity, the new media reflect and accelerate the process.
This, in part, explains why opinions on everything from pop music to politics are becoming less uniform. Consensus shatters.
...Above all this, the de-massification of the civilization, which the media both reflect and intensify, brings with it an enormous jump in the amount of information we all exchange with one another. And it is this increase that explains why we are becoming an "information society."'
"The radical de-massification of the media, the invention of new media, the mapping of the earth by satellite, the monitoring of hospital patients by electronic sensors, the computerization of corporate files--all mean we are recording the activities of the civilization in fine-grain detail...we shall before long have the closest thing to a civilization with total recall. Third Wave civilization will have at its disposal more information, and more finely organized information, about itself than could have been imagined even a quarter-century ago."
'Today, cheap mini-computers are about to invade the American home..."Some day soon," chirruped a Dallas microcomputer retailer, "every home will have a computer. It will be as standard as a toilet.
Linked to banks, stores, government offices, to neighbors' homes and to the workplace, such computers are destined to reshape not only business, from production to retailing, but the very nature of work and, indeed, even the structure of the family.
...consumers have been deluged with hand-held calculators, diode watches, and TV-screen games. These, however, provide only the palest hint of what lies in store: tiny, cheap climate and soil sensors in agriculture; infinitesimal medical devices built into ordinary clothing to monitor heartbeat or stress levels of the wearer...'
'Telecomputing Corporation of America offers a service called simply "The Source," which for minuscule costs provides the computer user with instant access to the United Press International news wire; a vast array of stock and commodity market data; educational programs to teach children arithmetic, spelling, French, German, or Italian; membership in a computerized discount shoppers' club; instant hotel or travel reservations, and more.
The Source also makes it possible for anyone with a cheap computer terminal to communicate with anyone else in the system. Bridge, chess, or backgammon players who so desire can play games with someone a thousand miles distant. Users can send private messages to one another or to large numbers of people all at once, and store all correspondence in electronic memory. The Source will even facilitate the creation of what might be called "electronic communities"—groups of people with shared interests. A dozen photo buffs in a dozen cities, brought together electronically by The Source, can converse to their heart's delight about cameras, equipment, darkroom techniques, lighting, or color film. Months later they can retrieve their comments from The Source's electronic memory, by subject, date, or other category.'