Journal of Technology Education


JTE Editor: Mark Sanders

Volume 1, Number 2
Spring 1990


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          FORESTER, TOM.  (1989).  HIGH-TECH SOCIETY:
          THE STORY OF THE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY REVO-
          LUTION.  CAMBRIDGE, MA:  THE MIT PRESS, $9.95
          (PAPERBACK), 320 PP.  (ISBN 0-262-56044-5)
 
                   Reviewed by Mark Snyder(1)
 
               As we enter the final decade of the
          twentieth century, we find ourselves in a
          world of fierce competition to control the
          accelerating technologies of the information
          age.  How did we arrive at this state of af-
          fairs?  What are these technologies that are
          experiencing such immense growth and how do
          they work?  Will all of this technological
          growth affect the way we live?  Who will win
          the race for control of information technol-
          ogy?  Such questions, which require answers
          ranging from very broad concepts to highly
          technical facts to predictions, are often
          asked of technology educators and are an-
          swered very effectively and perceptively by
          Australian information-studies professor Tom
          Forester in his book HIGH-TECH SOCIETY.
               Forester has succeeded in meeting his
          objectives of writing a readable, comprehen-
          sive, and balanced book that describes the
          many facets of the technology revolution.
          His coverage of this topic provides an inter-
          national schema from the outset by comparing
          how the high-tech snowball started rolling in
          the United States, Britain, Europe, and
          Japan.
               Defining the "laws of microelectronics"
          in an intelligible manner, Forester explains
          how microchips are made and the impact that
          new chip manufacturing technologies have had
          in the development of computers.  He further
          describes the role of microchips in the
          growth toward supercomputers, the forecasted
          fifth-generation computer, and artificial in-
          telligence.
               Other technologies about which Forester
          reports include digital technology and its
          various spinoffs in the "information-
          processing" industry, which are the result of
          combining computers, office products, and
          telecommunications systems.  He also dis-
          cusses facsimile, fiber optics, cellular ra-
          dio, satellite communications, electronic
          mail services, videoconferencing, videotex,
          interactive video, personal computers, soft-
          ware, and a variety of potential technologies
          for the future.
               Technology educators might feel threat-
          ened when they discover that a computer sci-
          ence professor at the Massachusetts Institute
          of Technology feels that computer literacy is
          "pure baloney" and that those "who use a com-
          puter only for the applications never need to
          learn how the technology works."  However, in
          the section "Computers in the Classroom"
          Forester provides an array of opinions and
          viewpoints on the future of computer applica-
          tions in education and reports on how the
          computer revolution has been handled in edu-
          cation by the United States, Great Britain,
          and France.
               Forester continues by predicting the
          outlook for "factories of the future," "the
          electronic office," and the effect of infor-
          mation technologies on banking and retailing.
          He recognizes that "the Great American Job
          Machine... has created 20 million jobs in the
          service industries in the past 10 years" but
          is skeptical in regard to the number of ser-
          vice jobs that will be generated in the fu-
          ture.  According to one source, "technology
          has a place - but by no means a dominant one
          - in the job market of the future."  Forester
          points out that there will be other "key
          problems for high-tech society" such as high-
          tech crime and invasion of privacy.
               The author concludes with his point of
          view on the international competition for su-
          premacy in information technologies.
          Forester pictures the United States at a
          point where it must change its focus from
          service industries back to manufacturing so
          it may redevelop its once strong industrial
          base and maintain itself in the world market.
          He also points out that Japan and Europe have
          serious internal problems that make the
          imminence of a United States decline ques-
          tionable.
               Forester offers a wealth of background
          information for all of the subtopics which he
          has chosen.  He employs an impressive variety
          of secondary sources and includes a few se-
          lective technical illustrations and cartoons
          which contribute agreeably to the test.
          HIGH-TECH SOCIETY is exceptionally inform-
          ative and provides an overview of the Tech-
          nology Revolution that is nearly definitive
          and quite comprehensible when explaining
          highly technical information.  This book will
          provide technology educators with answers to
          broad questions through detailed information
          presented in manageable terms.  
 
 
 
          ----------------
          1   Mark Snyder is a doctoral student, Technology Education,
              Polytechnic Institute & State University, Blacksburg, 
              Virginia.
 
          Permission is given to copy any
          article or graphic provided credit is given and
          the copies are not intended for sale.
 
Journal of Technology Education   Volume 1, Number 2       Spring 1990

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