Joel A. Barker and Scott W. Erickson: Five Regions of the Future: Preparing Your Business for Tomorrow's Technology Revolution book review


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The Five Regions of the Future: The New Paradigm of Understanding Technologies

Five Regions of the Future: Preparing Your Business for Tomorrow's Technology , by Joel A. Barker and Scott W. Erikson, is a book that breaks down "high technology" into five areas of technology called TechnEcologies.  The intention of this book is to break high technology into finer granularity so that it can be tracked in relation to each other.  The book is also good as source material for hard science fiction writers.

The five chapters that represent the five TechnEcologies break down into three sections each.  The first section, "Overview and Guidelines," explains the kinds of technologies that make up the particular TechnEcology.  The second section, "Advocates and Examples," name authors and the technology they advocate.  The third section is a fictional account, set in the future, that repeat the examples as though they have already been implemented.  A bibliography at the end of the book gives further references for the examples presented in each chapter.

The five TechnEcologies are: Super Tech, Limits Tech, Local Tech, Nature Tech, and Human Tech.

Super Tech is defined by : superabundance, solving all problems given enough time and money, moving beyond nature with our own devices, choosing leisure over work.

Limits Tech is defined b y : scarcity, long-term implications, nature, working hard to survive.

Local Tech is defined by : sufficient resources for everyone, properly scaled technology, shepherding nature, the need for people to work as a means of spiritual growth.

Nature Tech is defined by : fulfilling needs using nature's systems, creating technologies comparable to nature's solutions to problems, considering nature as an equal partner, working well with nature.

Human Tech is defined by : non-material needs, learning to measure human technology, humans have extraordinary capabilities, working to know ourselves.

It's odd that the book cover presents Human Tech as the intersection of the other four TechnEcologies, yet the book itself presents Human Tech as the superset of the other four TechnEcologies.  Why misrepresent the contents of the book?  Is this a sign of an art director who is clueless about the significance of Venn diagrams, but wanted to represent people as the center of all technologies?

It seems dubious to present new scientific concepts, like these TechnEcologies with the intention that only managers would read the book.  What about the scientists and technologists who they manage?  Wouldn't everyone benefit from such an expanded awareness?  Then again, it's only the questionable book cover that makes the claim that the book is for business leaders.

The reason I claimed that the book is good for science fiction writers is because I've seen some of the concepts explored in science fiction.  Greg Bear's The Forge of God had the premise that planets themselves are living beings, just like Nature Tech's concept of Gaea.  Nature Tech's living dirigibles remind me of the living ships in the TV series "Farscape."  Additionally, the authors reference works of science fiction in the bibliography.

Here's some personal observations I made while reading the book :

This book is 8.5"x5.25" with with 10 point font and 3/4 inch margins and 244 pages.  73 of these pages are spent on fictional stories that generally repeat information already given.  10 of these pages are devoted to unnecessarily wide-spaced survey.

Looking at the author s' website ( http://www.FiveRegionsOfTheFuture.com) for this book, I see that the authors offer speeches, workshops and software.  The software seems to present information graphically, I suppose, in case the reader has a hard time with sequential text.  They also have a blog which adds more examples to each TechnEcology as they find them.  They present the questionable cover art that I already mentioned as the logo for the website.

In conclusion, I find the fragmentation of "high technology" into refined concepts interesting.  It remains to be seen if I actually benefit from compartmentalizing technology the way the authors do.  I find the book to be too expensive and too verbose for what it is.  An outline with the bibliography would be more concise at transmitting all the information presented in this book.  A short summary of the books referred to, though, helps me so that I don't have to look up the references separately.

 
The Five Regions of the Future: The New Paradigm of Understanding Technologies
 

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