At the end of the last millennium, Michael Moon wrote this in his book Firebrands:
Drucker marks the beginning of the information era in 1955, when enterprises began to organize work and productivity in terms of the creation and use of information. He coined the term “knowledge worker” to characterize a new form of labor: a worker who produces and consumes information as the principle focus of the job. Competitive advantage derived from information technology (IT) infrastructure (in particular, specialized computer software) and the quality of the data that knowledge workers could transform into business intelligence and answers. Because these information systems undergird the means of production, distribution, and customer interactions, better-trained knowledge workers and superior IT systems conferred great advantages to the firms that mastered these two elements. Drucker argues that each age lasts about 40 years, and that each provides a meaningful context for understanding the previous age. He notes that while immersed in the current era, people have a hard time understanding the organizing principal of that era. Like water to a fish or air to a bird, the operating principle of the current era remains hidden behind the veil of tranquilized obviousness. Drucker wryly notes that, following this timeline, the information era ended in 1995. He says that we now find ourselves in a new era with a fundamentally new organizing principle for work and productivity. He laments that he can smell and taste but not name this new organizing principle. He nonetheless asserts that the new organizing principle should have sufficient explanatory power to quantify the economic value of information—something that remained impossible while we stayed immersed in the information era. We note that in 1995 the World Wide Web burst on the scene to force the Internet out of its arcane academic/military R&D closet and thrust it into the world’s living rooms, offices, factory floors, and boardrooms. But, the Internet does not constitute the organizing principle of the new economic era, any more than electricity served as the organizing principle for the information era. While electricity enabled the new era, information provided the organizing principle. We submit that trust networks represent the organizing principle for work and productivity in the era that began in 1995 and which will end, according to Drucker’s theory, around 2035.
Millison, Doug; Moon, Michael (2001-11-07). Firebrands (Computer World It Leaders) (Kindle Locations 275-291). McGraw-Hill. Kindle Edition.
We are living in the age of trust networks as suggested by Drucker and named by Moon. How, then, should we proceed? Here are some thoughts…