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Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well-Done Analysis -- but not quite what I expected, 15 Oct. 2010
This review is from: I Live in the Future & Here's How It Works: Why Your World, Work, and Brain Are Being Creatively Disrupted (Hardcover)
"I Live in the Future & Here's How it Works" generally offers an excellent analysis of future trends in media (especially social media) and consumer behavior. One point that the book makes is that we can often get a good sense of how technologies will be absorbed into broader society by looking at the most tech-savvy among us ("early adopters"). Bilton generally has a more positive take on the social impacts of the internet than some other authors who worry, for example, about Google and Wikipedia making us stupid. For instance, Bilton argues that video games can enhance capability and cites evidence that Surgeons who regularly play games outperform those who don't.

One of the key points of the book is what Bilton calls "Me Economics" -- which implies that consumers will increasingly seek out products and services that have personal relevance and which provide highly engaging personal experiences. In other words, customization and personalization will win out over broad-based media, and businesses will have to adapt to this in order to be successful. Many of the points here are somewhat similar to those made in Chris Anderson's "The Long Tail."

My only problem is that for a book titled "I Live in the Future" and subtitled "Why Your World, Work, and Brain Are Being Creatively Disrupted," I expected a much broader treatment of how technology will be likely to impact society and the workplace. While Bilton's insights into media are well developed, I don't think those trends can be completely divorced from other -- possibly much more important -- disruptive impacts as technology continues to progress.

In particular there is no discussion of how advancing technology and our evolving consumer desires will impact employment (which should certainly be of interest given the current economic situation). As more of our consumer demands become digital in nature, it necessarily means fewer jobs for people to fulfill those desires. For example, consider the thousands of people employed by the nearly bankrupt Blockbuster, as opposed to how many people Netflix will employ in the future when nearly all movies are streamed directly to televisions or other devices.

Additionally many new automation technologies will increasingly threaten jobs of nearly all types, including knowledge-based jobs that require college degrees. In fact, this is already happening with IT jobs which are being hit even harder by automation than by offshoring.

For an excellent overview of these broader economic and social issues, I would highly recommend this book: The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future (Also has a Kindle Version)..

In spite of the ambitious title, this is clearly outside the scope of what Bilton intended to cover in his book. Therefore, I am still awarding 5 stars for his well-done focus on media. Nonetheless, I think any reader who is interested in the impact of technology on future society, the economy and business should not ignore the broader trends that are analyzed in "The Lights in the Tunnel".
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