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Alvin Toffler
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Alvin Toffler

Alvin Toffler (born October 3, 1928) is an American writer and futurist, known for his works discussing the digital revolution, communications revolution, and corporate revolution. His early work focused on technology and its impact. Then he moved to examining the reaction of and changes in society. His later focus has been on the increasing power of 21st century military hardware, weapons and technology proliferation, and capitalism.

A few of his well-known works are:

Toffler explains, "Society needs people who take care of the elderly and who know how to be compassionate and honest. Society needs people who work in hospitals. Society needs all kinds of skill that are not just cognitive; they're emotional, they're affectional. You can't run the society on data and computers alone." Toffler continues, "The Second Wave Society is industrial and based on mass production, mass distribution, mass consumption, mass education, mass media, mass recreation, mass entertainment, and weapons of mass destruction. You combine those things with standardization, centralization, concentration, and synchronization, and you wind up with a style of organization we call bureaucracy." Toffler would also add that we are moving away from a Second Wave Society into what he would call a Third Wave Society. He coined lots of words to describe it.

In this post-industrial society, there is a lot of diversity in lifestyles ("subcults"). Adhocracies (fluid organizations like, say, the Wikipedia community) adapt quickly to changes. Information can substitute most of the material resources (see ersatz) and becomes the main material for workers (cognitarians instead of proletarians), who are loosely affiliated. Mass customization enables cheap production of personalized products catering to small niches (see just in time production). The gap between producer and consumer is bridged by technology. "Prosumers" can fill their own needs (see Open Source, assembly kit, freelance work).

During the 1980's, he was read and listened to across the world as people tried to make sense of the impact of new technologies and social change. Toffler's writings have been influential beyond the confines of scientific, economic and public policy discussions. Techno music pioneer Juan Atkins cites Toffler's phrase "techno rebels" in Future Shock as inspiring him to use the word "techno" to describe the musical style he helped to create. The Shockwave Rider is a science-fiction novel inspired by his Future Shock.

See also