Alvin Toffler R.I.P.


Grandmaster of Futurism Alvin Toffler ist im Alter von 87 Jahren in Los Angeles gestorben.

Der Mann hat in seinen Büchern zum Futurismus die Theorien und Begriffe entwickelt, die heute längst Alltagswissen wurden – den Information-Overload etwa oder Innovationsbeschleunigung in Future Shock und Theorien der Post-Industrialisierung in Third Wave. Begriffe wie „Information Age“ und „Prosumer“ gehen auf Tofflers Konto, vorhergesehen hatte er unter anderem Kabelfernsehen, Virtual Reality und Home Recording.

thirdwaveSeine Bücher inspirierten letztlich auch die Belleville Three (Juan Atkins, Derrick May und Kevin Saunderson) bei ihrer Entwicklung des Detroit Techno. In anderen Worten: Toffler ist für so ziemlich jeden Zukunfts-Schnickschnack verantwortlich, den man heute mit Futurismus verbindet. Danke dafür, Alvin. R.I.P.

“Future Shock,” published in 1970, described society’s development as a series of waves, from the agricultural revolution of the Neolithic Age to industrialization in the 18th century to the Information Age since the 1950s. After “The Third Wave,” “Powershift” in 1991 completed the trilogy, examining how knowledge became the main means of gaining power and wealth, presenting challenges for the nation-state and opportunities for corporations. Toffler forecast that humans would be overwhelmed by the pace of change in everything from technology to politics.

The Tofflers claimed on their website to have foretold the breakup of the Soviet Union, the reunification of Germany and the rise of the Asia-Pacific region. He said in the People’s Daily interview that “Future Shock” envisioned cable television, video recording, virtual reality and smaller U.S. families.

Hier Orson Welles 1972er Doku zu Future Shock, der Film funktionierte als eine Art „Guide to Future Shock“:


'Future Shock' is a documentary film based on the book written in 1970 by sociologist and futurist Alvin Toffler. Released in 1972, with a cigar-chomping Orson Welles as on-screen narrator, this piece of futurism is darkly dystopian and oozing techno-paranoia... A great opening features a montage of car crashes and civil unrest intercut with two figures walking in a green field (while creepy synthesizers play in the background) who are soon revealed to be automatons with creepy robot faces -- a nice metaphor for the fear of the unrecognizable, cold, and chaotic future society that Toffler thought we were all headed for.

future2So what exactly is "Future Shock"? Sociologist and futurist Alvin Toffler explains: "We may define future shock as the distress, both physical and psychological, that arises from an overload of the human organism's physical adaptive systems and it's decision-making processes. Put more simply, future shock is the human response to over-stimulation."

"Toffler's main argument is that humanity (as of 1970, when the book was written), is in the midst of an enormous shift from an industrial society to a super-industrial society; this new society will be characterized by such things as an acceleration of images, words, ideas, and technologies that could possibly overwhelm mankind, resulting in a serious disconnect when these new ideas reach their fruition (if not well before then). This disconnect is 'future shock', an inability to process the enormous amounts of information and change associated with the super-industrial revolution.

Toffler likens future shock to the same sort of disorientation that a person experiences when he moves to a new area, or a new country, and suffers a severing of all he has known. While some people can adjust with seeming ease to this kind of dislocation, most of us suffer various maladies from this 'shock'. Toffler ends up attributing most of societies ills to this jarring social shock. Crime, drug use, the disintegration of society, the burgeoning of quasi-religious movements: all of these are symptoms of a society that can no longer cope with the vast amounts of information and change that technology is bringing about."

"Some of Toffler's visions are pretty impressive. Toffler accurately anticipated many of the sorts of psychological, social, and economic maldies and turbulence of the last thirty years (yet, to date literally no one seems to pay much heed to his thesis, or to ask what it means for the quality of life in our own futures). 'Future Shock' is an important book raising critical and fundamental questions about the social, economic, and political impacts of technologically-induced innovations within contemporary society and the way they are flooding uncontested and unhampered into our social environment."