The Book: The Third Wave, Alvin Toffler Essay Sample
The first wave, the agricultural revolution: during this wave people in one place and developed a sense of cyclic times that followed the moon, crop, and season cycles. Population in this wave could be divided into two groups: the primitive and the civilized. The primitive people lived in small groups and tribes and survived by gathering, hunting, or fishing. The civilized society practiced agriculture. Agriculture enhanced civilization. Agriculture civilization begun around 8000 B.C. and lasted until around A.D 1650 – 1750, with the existence of mass- production factories in ancient Rome and Greece at this time. Oil was drilled on one of Greek islands in 400 B.C. and in Burma in A.D. 100. Immense bureaucracies were present in Egypt and Babylonia. Urban centers sprung up in Asia and South America. Trade practices existed with trade paths across deserts, oceans, and mountains. Exchange with money was available and corporations and developing nations existed. The following features characterized this wave:
The economy, life, culture, family structures, and politics were based on land. a decentralized economy existed and people lived in organized villages.
Conflicts arose among farmers about land ownership and usage of water resources. Laws were created and law enforcement groups were chosen. People paid taxes in form of portions of their crops.
Populations got their energy from renewable things such as human and animal muscle power or from the sun, wind, and water. Forest wood cooked food and animals pulled plows.
Inventions such as winches and wedges, winepresses, catapults, levers, and hoist became available as a means to amplify human or animal muscle.
In terms of commerce and trade, products were made by handcraft methods and they were created one at a time based on custom. Distribution was also done in the same way. Civilized merchants built large trading companies and opened up trade routes globally, planned ship convoys and caravans of camels. On the other hand, poor communication and primitive transport filled the lives of people. Many time, people could be out of certain products for up to one year.
In terms of communication, face-to-face and person-to-person communication was the norm. Towers were built and men with loud voices were place on top of them to relay messages by shouting from one tower to the next. Romans, between 1305 and early 1800’s, introduced an extensive messaging service that operated around the continued with about twenty thousand employees.
Product and consumer market system: people themselves consumed large amounts of food, goods, and services produced during this period. Live was based on subsistence diet.
This period experienced three important innovations: the invention of accurate clocks, the invention of the printing press, and development in metallurgy.
The second, the industrial revolution: people derived their energy from non-renewable sources such as fossil fuels (oil, coal, and gas). This encouraged mass production of goods, which required a large pool of capital. The concept of limited liability was introduced to encourage investments, which led to creation of corporations. This period started in the 1800 and ended in the late 1950s, and it was characterized by:
Standardization, which was associated with mass production.
Specialization: workers became specialists in particular fields. This formed the basis for the emergence of professions.
Synchronization: second wave people took time seriously. In this time, the system was a market dependent one, which meant that time was equated to money. Synchronization that is more refined meant that expensive machines could not stay idle. Punctuality became a social necessity, which resulted to the proliferation of clocks and watches. Time was divided; there was time for leisure, work, coffee breaks, or holidays. People, mostly men, became conditioned to clock-time. Women mainly concentrated in non-interdependent housework.
Concentration of energy, money, and power: society became dependent on high concentrations of fossil fuel deposits. Urban centers became the desired places for people to live. Work was concentrated in factories; the poor were concentrated in ghettoes; education was concentrated in school; criminals were concentrated in prisons; the mentally ill were concentrated in asylums; and children were concentrated in schools.
Maximization: production was maximized.
Centralization: this was practiced in politics and business. In business early railroad managers standardized technologies, fares, schedules, and synchronized operations. Specialized occupations were created, which concentrated capital, energy, and people. The political system became centralized which increased government power.
Imperialism: the second wave civilizations regarded the first wave civilization as backward and underdeveloped, which justified their colonization. The rapid march of imperialism across colonies exploited these countries’ resources. This wave saw the United State become the world superpower with the creation of international monetary fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
Behavioral change: industrialized children were taught beliefs that resulted to:
Time-obsession, which was necessary for the synchronization needed in industrial systems.
An extended culture that was spatial – huge populations was concentrated into industrial centers as agriculture had required permanent settlements.
Precise measurement was emphasized and standards for measurements were adopted.
Individualism was born, as people had to move away from their families.
The third wave, the information age: the post-industrial society that began in the late 1950s, it is powerfully driven by technology. Its co-drivers include worldwide social demands for greater freedom and individuation. Big companies and military organizations needed to track what they were doing and what they were spending. This resulted to the creation of radar systems, robots, and CD-ROMs. This period was characterized by:
New technologies, which has given way for new industries linked to quantum electronics, information theory, molecular biology, oceanic ecology, and the space sciences.
Space industry: this period will result to the creation of space industry, with people and cargo moving back and forth between the earth and outer space on weekly schedules.
Explorations in the sea with a likelihood of growing protein in the sea in order to end world hunger.
The gene industry: This would improve production of food, wood, wool, and other natural goods.
De-massification of the media: the new media will be specialized and target special interest regional or local markets. There is design of cable systems for two-way communication for a more refined customization. There is a likelihood of a decrease of newspaper and magazine readership and the loss of viewers of the generic television channels. There is a rise in specialty channels that appeal to narrow segments of the population.
New social memories, with the creation of the PC, activities of this civilization are being recorded in detail with an easy access to the records.
The third wave has created many opportunities for me. For instance, the creation of the PC with its accompanying applications and technologies has enabled me to do a lot from home. I can chat with my friends far away; I can perform my assignments at home, send them through the computer unlike the first, and second wave where sending a message took a long time to reach its recipients. Family wise, I think there is a big change as I can observe that motherhood is now diminishing, as the society appears not to be child centered as in the first and the second wave. Children are being given growing responsibilities from an early age. Education is becoming interwoven with work. People are more flexible and they work when they want, and for whom they want. Nuclear family is on its demise and a diversity of family forms is emerging. Now when I look for a mate, I look for the one to offer love, companionship, sex, warmth, and support unlike in the first wave where mates had to be strong enough in order to help with work on farms.
Moreover, it seems that information processing is becoming the primary economic activity and a primary determinant of power and its distribution. Democracy is changing from poling at election booths to direct interactions between governments and its people through online voting. Furthermore, I do not need to work very hard to make money. With the internet, there are more opportunities to make money online in the comfort at home. I can buy things online and have them delivered to me at home. If I want to plant a particular crop or fruit without the knowledge of agriculture, I can just go to my computer, search for the relevant information, and use it. In addition, I am free to choose which television channel I wish to watch, I can read a newspaper online without having to purchase it, and it is possible to contribute to debates in news channels right from wherever I may be even with my phone. I think, the third wave has brought with it many transformations and promises to bring even more opportunities.
Castells, Manuel. 2009. The Rise of the Network Society, With a New Preface The Information Age: Economy, Society, and Culture Volume I. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. http://www.SLQ.eblib.com.au/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=470450.
Toffler, Alvin. 1980. The third wave. New York: Morrow.
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