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Alvin Toffler is often quoted as saying “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

Numerous powerpoints, wikis, documents and articles use the quote in order to talk about digital literacy and management. Many cite his book “Future Shock” and “Rethinking the Future”. In the latter for he co-wrote the forward. You’d be forgiven to think it’s ‘his’ book when in fact it is the compilation of many future-thinkers, edited by Rowan Gibson in 1997.

Amazon promote the the book as being authored by Alvin Toffler (Author), Heidi Toffler (Author), Rowan Gibson (Author). However, in 3 pages the Toffers did write from 275, I wonder if the quite often cited is taken from the line

“Not since the dawn of the industrial Revolution have managers had more to learn (and unlearn) about the art of business leadership”

In Future Shock, we talks extensively about the changing nature of society and our move from describes as

“We are moving from bureaucracy to Ad-hocracy (pp123) … Ad-hocracy, the fast moving, information-rich, kinetic organization of the future, filled with transient cells and extremely mobile individuals (pp131)”
and
Accelerating knowledge acquisition, fueling the great change engine of technology, means accelerating change (pp31)”

Future Shock is jam packed with predictions that have been re-worked into the digital-age context by many talking about shifting and changing nature of education BUT I cannot reference to the 21st Century specifically, let alone this actual quote. It is highly frustrating as we (Judy and I) wanted to use it in print — and have been earnestly reading though Future Shock, Powershift and Rethinking the Future … but with no success.

I wonder if someone out there in the meta-verse — perhaps someone who has quoted or adapted it … might give us the actual reference … as we’re thinking it’s either an adaptation or perhaps in some other media that he said it.

Kevin Kelly says in Rethinking the Future (1997), pp 253 … “The curious thing about technology is the way it resolves complexity into simplicity”. In this case – what seemed easy has become quite a chase. What may be true is that it was simple to copy and paste. I’ll let you know if we find it … or if you find it first …

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