- Mass Market Paperback: 560 pages
- Publisher: Bantam (May 1, 1984)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780553246988
- ISBN-13: 978-0553246988
- ASIN: 0553246984
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 256 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,207 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Third Wave Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 1984
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“Fresh ideas, clearly explained. . . . Toffler has proven again that he is a master.”—United Press International
“Toffler has imagination and an ability to think of various future possibilities by transcending prevailing values, assumptions and myths.”—Associated Press
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About the Author
Alvin Toffler (1928–2016) was an American writer and futurist whose list of bestselling books includes Future Shock, The Third Wave, and Powershift. He was a cofounder of Toffler Associates, a consulting firm for companies and governments worldwide on advances in economics, technology, and social change. In France, where his work won the prestigious Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger (Best Foreign Book Prize), Alvin was named an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
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Steve Case, the founder of AOL who was responsible for the first Internet experience of many people (including me and probably many folks reading this review), outlines his vision of "The Third Wave" of the Internet. The First Wave was what AOL and others did in the 1990s--just getting people online. The Second Wave, the Wave of Google, Facebook, Twitter, and more, created a flurry of people using the Internet to communicate and share information--but when you think about it, Steve says, the Internet has barely begun to transform the way we live our everyday lives. Our food, health care, education, and energy systems are pretty much the same as they were before the Internet--with slightly better information-sharing and communication. In the Third Wave, the Internet will integrate into everything we do.
As Steve begins to predict how, he artfully and entertainingly outlines his lessons learned from AOL--successes and failures--as he sees many parallels between the Third Wave and the First Wave (when he and others built AOL). The stories still hold very real applications to entrepreneurs today. Unlike some books that make vaguely interesting predictions but don't go into detail, Steve then refreshingly and creatively goes into detail of HOW the next wave of the Internet will transform our lives, highlighting the "Rise of the Rest," how the changing face of the Internet will transform entrepreneurial opportunity outside of hubs that have won the Second Wave such as San Francisco and Boston. If you read the newspaper headlines or listen to any political candidates, you'd think that the economy in most cities in the world is a lost cause, but Steve convincingly portrays a different story. Highlighting startups from New Orleans to Nairobi, the Third Wave illustrates how cities you wouldn't expect are changing the face of how industries rise and economies grow, and anyone who cares about the future of technology needs to pay attention: the next great innovations in food systems, for example, could be more likely to come from Louisville or St. Louis than they are from San Francisco.
The book also outlines the rise and importance of "impact investing," detailing how as the Internet integrates into our lives, the very nature of technology startups will change from seemingly frivolous apps that help us order food to areas that we have more traditionally thought are the realm of government or nonprofit--the areas that matter most, such as how we educate our kids and how we power our planet. Over the past 30 years, many tech entrepreneurs have been building companies with the sole purpose of creating as much financial value as possible; in the "Third Wave," we're starting to see an exponentially increasing group of people seeking to create social value as well.
Finally, the book is a bit of a warning: Steve outlines how, after traveling thousands of miles across the country, venture capitalists, politicians, leaders in big corporations, and entrepreneurs alike have no idea how the Internet is about to change. People are building companies and making policy as if the way things work today will go on forever. Take financial services, for instance. Politicians talk about either "breaking up the banks" or regulating them less to ensure economic growth, and large banks spend incredible sums of money protecting advantages of incumbency, but technology startups are already literally breaking the functions of banks--lending, credit scoring, wealth management, payments, and more--into faster, more personalized services that everyday people are jumping on top of. Sectors such as health and energy are ready for similar disruption.
So--what do we do in the face of the changing Internet? The final chapters helpfully outline whether you're in policy, a founder, an investor, or just someone looking to get involved in the next wave of the Internet. One of the best parts of the book is Steve telling his own story, as the Head of Pizza Development for Pizza Hut, hacking his own way into the early circles of people building the Internet in what he calls the "First Wave." This book is a useful, clear, specific way for people inspired to do the same in the Third Wave.
If you're intrigued with how the Internet will transform our lives over the coming decades, interested in a roadmap for what the changing economy looks like, or just want a great story, pick up this book.
I'll concede that this is an insightful idea, and I wanted to be drawn in and inspired. Unfortunately, the book doesn't seem to make great use of the 273 pages it occupies. There a lot of pictures of Steve Case with various powerful people, and I presume that the book manages to somehow spin these trips down memory lane into something faintly relevant to the main thesis, but there was an element of self aggrandizement, ill concealed by a fig-leaf of false modesty, the net effect of which was somewhat off-putting. The book just wasn't engaging enough in other ways to compensate. It didn't take too long before I just didn't want to bother with the chore of reading it further.
Entrepreneurship often reminds of the famous newspaper ad Ernest Shackleton is said to have placed before his 1914 attempt to explore Antarctica: “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.” That’s the beauty of entrepreneurship, and that's what you need to know when you sign up for it.
Thanks for sharing your vision on the third wave. It's a total paradigm shift.
Creating value in the world, but specifically in our country, needs to be talked about, examples given, advice gleaned and then get up and get moving. More than anything we all need to be reminded that lowering the bar only allows others to just "fall over it"! It is this kind of attitude that now permeates our society, participation is ok, average is ok and doing the minimum is accepted. We all need a kick in the butt sometimes and a dose of humble pie, hard work, never giving up and giving to others is the key to our country and future successes.
With entitlement programs, insurance issues, and the aging of America on top of us all it will take the attitude Steve talks about clearly, guts, glory and seeing into the future. Everyone has hard times, it is the tough that keep us rolling! 'American Exceptionalism' that is Steve Case, and his book is totally that exceptional.