When I saw the title of Marian Salzman and Ira Matathia's book on trends, NEXT NOW, I was totally lured in. The world is moving at such a frantic pace these days that if you're not careful, you'll only be able to keep up with your small part of it. As a father, I like to consider what's coming down the pipe. I need to be able to advise my kids regarding education, possible job futures, impending medical breakthroughs, health risks, and general states-of-affairs regarding political and economic trends.
I spend a lot of time considering the future and what may or may not happen. And it's not just about my family. I'm also working writer. The fiction novels I do these days tend to have a lot of research in them. You can't just write a spy novel with an evil, nefarious villain behind all the bad things that happen to the hero without going into why he's that way. Readers want to know how that villain is motivated. They want to know what political, religious, or economic sanctions triggered that villain's point of view.
So I tend to read a lot of online material, periodical magazines, book reviews, books, and watch a lot of television regarding emerging technologies. As it turns out, I'm either more educated in these fields that I thought I was, or the authors of this book didn't quite go far enough with their explorations of what's coming next.
Most of material they cover, I was already familiar with to a degree. Moreover, I was disappointed because they usually only superficially skim the surface of material they introduce in the book. In fact, some of the things they write about I've already been covering in my fiction for a couple of years. Such as the emerging economic growth of China and the direct challenge to the United States for oil as a consumer. A lot of people blame the oil companies for making vast amounts of profits, and surely they are, but the only reason they're able to do that is because the market has expanded and the quantity of the product has not. In fact, being more environmentally aware as well as politically conscious of emerging Third World countries has hindered oil production as well.
That increased market has been in the news if you know where to look for it for years. Unfortunately most people, corporate executives are guilty as well, tend not to look at these things. They're all about the here and now, and don't focus on the next at all.
Those people will probably be intimidated, shocked, and in awe of what Salzman and Matathia write about in their book. As a primer for the uneducated, NEXT NOW is a great little book that should jumpstart questions and interest. However, those who are fairly fluent in these emerging technologies and trends are going to be disappointed because they don't get anything really new.
In fact, the book has more focus on the recent past that it does on the next few years it claims it will cover. It's valuable to a degree in interpreting what is happened and offers some insight into what may be right around the corner.
The writing is workmanlike, though it gets a little clunky of times. Also, there's a habit of switching topics too quickly. Some of the material begs to be discussed more in-depth and doesn't receive the attention it deserves.
Furthermore, I would have liked to have more source material available beyond the book. I want to know where the authors got their information, what books or magazines they referenced, who they talked to in order to get the knowledge, so that I might have been able to follow up on some of the information myself.
I'm self-educated in these areas. You almost have to be. By the time a professor puts together a curriculum that will serve to teach you these things, it will be too late to act upon them. I like thinkers. They encourage me to think for myself and to wonder what if.
NEXT NOW is a great book for the uninitiated, but not so much for the professional working in a field that requires glimpses of the coming years.