Alvin and Heider Toffler

Revolutionary Wealth (2006)


  • 8% of the world's population crosses a border each year. that's 500 million people a year —- more than the world's population in 1680
  • education trains students for jobs that won't exist
  • agrarian age —> industrial age —> knowledge age
  • new complexity: tsunami of knowledge
  • past slipping away faster and faster

Data vs Information vs Knowledge

  • data: unconnected fact (example 300 shares)
  • information: data plus context (example 300 shares of IBM)
  • knowledge: linked information (example 300 shares of IBM in a rising market but when interest rates may increase)

Knowledge vs Physical Goods

  1. non-rival
  2. intangible
  3. nonlinear
  4. relational to other information
  5. mates with other knowledge
  6. very portable (example digital)
  7. can compress
  8. can store an ever smaller spaces
  9. explicit/implicit, shared/private
  10. hard to bottle up … spreads

The value of physical goods comes from comparing one with another (example cars)

The value of knowledge depends on what's in it, but once that is known and no longer secret, the value of the knowledge decreases: the value decreases scarcity decreases.

Knowledge is difficult to quantify. Much research has been done on oil supplies in the world, but what of knowledge? how much knowledge is there? How much is worth knowing? We each have a personal supply in our brains but much more is external in databases.

Obsolescence of Knowledge

Knowledge has a shelf life: much of what we know is false. Our knowledge becomes obsolete.

As change increases, the spread of obsolete knowledge increases.

  • With every passing semisecond, the accuracy of our knowledge about our investments, our markets, our technology and our customer's needs decreases.

Truth of Knowledge

We believe for six reasons

  1. Consensus: conventional wisdom from family, friends and society; lemming truth
  2. Consistency: a statement is seen as true if fits with other facts known to be true (eg by courts, detectives)
    • could be consistently false …
  3. Authority: secular or divine
    • if Warren Buffet says it, it must be true
  4. Revelation: mystical, "just is"; "take it from me"
  5. Durability: stood the test of time
  6. Science: based on rigorous testing (observations, experiments, reproducible)
    • has the greatest impact on our wealth, but not something we rely on in our daily lives

The Six Sources of Money

  1. Create something salable
  2. Get a job
  3. Inherit
  4. Get a gift
  5. Marry or remarry
  6. Go on welfare
  7. Steal

Prosumers (Producer/Consumer)

  • provide production and productivity (producivity)
  • purchases are capital expenditures (eg windmill, cameras, PC, car, sewing machine)
  • production in the nonmoney economy
    • do things ourselves outside the markets
  • invented: web browser, Linux operating system,

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