Thursday, April 23, 2009
David Pearce Snyder on Information, Creativity and the Future
David Pearce Snyder, Life-Styles Editor of The Futurist magazine, is a data-based forecaster whose thousands of seminars and workshops on strategic thinking have been attended by representatives from most of the Fortune 500 companies, and from local and federal government agencies, educational institutions and trade associations. Before entering private practice as a consulting futurist in 1981, Mr. Snyder was Chief of Information Systems, and later, Senior Planning Officer for the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, where he designed and managed the Service's Strategic Planning System. He was also a consultant to the RAND Corporation, and served as an instructor for the Federal Executive Institute, and for Congressional and White House staff development programs. Mr. Snyder has published hundreds of studies, articles and reports on the specific future of a wide range of U.S. institutions, industries and professions, and on the socio-economic impacts of new technologies. He is the editor/co-author of five books, including Future Forces and a sequel, America in the 1990s, both published by the American Society of Association Executives. He has appeared on Nightline, the Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, and the BBC World Service.
The common assumption that the Information Revolution will create a new generation of high value/high pay rank-and-file jobs remains an article of faith that is not reflected in current hiring patterns or official long-range employment forecasts. To the contrary, routine workplace activities are increasingly being automated, infomated, and commoditized, reducing the need for skilled labor. Simultaneously, macroeconomists expect that international competition made possible by free trade and our new global infostructure – the Internet – will increasingly drive local labor markets worldwide to pay comparable wages for comparable work. But real revolutions arise from the “bottom up,” and a confluence of spontaneously adopted technical innovations and collegial workplace practices is currently foreshadowing a grassroots reinvention of work itself that can be expected to increase the value- added and the income earned by rank-and-file employees. What is emerging is an absolutely unexpected yet intuitively compelling social invention – “open collaboration” – uniquely capable of mobilizing the creative capacities of workers everywhere to exploit the productive potential of information technology, and to address the growing inventory of social, economic, environmental and bio-medical challenges confronting the future of human enterprise.