A good way to begin, because this one sentence captures the problems
of the entire piece in microcosm. First, what on earth does it mean?
Perhaps that matter (meaning “physical resources”) is no longer as
important in the general scheme of things as it used to be. But
that’s nonsense. The authors must be inhabiting a different world
from mine. As a professor of computer science I’m immersed in
electronic and software technology, but I can tell you that among
computer scientists, matter is still a pretty big deal. What the
young men in this profession care most about, for example, is matter
in the shape of young women. The houses we live in or the cars we
drive are important to many of us. Most of us are inordinately
interested in the computer-shaped matter on our desks.

Perhaps that’s all irrelevant to the authors’ argument? But it isn’t.
Farther on we read about new ages and big transitions. The authors
believe that we are in the midst of enormous change, that our future
and our past are pretty nearly unconnected. But they don’t convince
me because, for one, people care today about the same things they’ve
always cared about, and as far as I can see they are likely to go on
caring about them in the future, too. The authors’ claims about a
“third wave” strike me as insufficiently connected to real life and
wildly overblown, just like this sentence.

Perhaps what the authors meant to say was something like “information
is no longer tied down to physical stuff–to people or paper; and
because of that, information is much easier and cheaper to transport
and distribute than it used be, and because of THAT, there’s every
reason to believe that life will change for the better.” Now THAT I
believe. But of course, that’s not remotely what the sentence says.


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