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The Fifth Civilization

In Brief: The Fifth Civilization (Quintepoch) is one introduced by computer technology. Though electronic, this is of a different order than previous technologies of mass communication. Computers permit two-way communication between man and machine, or between several men mediated by machine. Today, in the infancy of this civilization, it is clear that computers and computer networks are having a profound impact upon society. So-called "snail mail" is replaced in some cases by "e-mail", a faster and cheaper way to communicate. What we call e-commerce promises to revolutionize the sale and distribution of goods. Computer-based education looms on the horizon. How all this will play out in the future is yet unclear; but the change will be of a magnitude such as to signal the creation of a new civilization.
 
Civilization I
Civilization II
Civilization III
Civilization IV

  Civilization V:   

         Here history departs from a grounding in facts remembered from the past. This is not history as it is commonly understood but its projection into the future. To know the qualities or characteristics of computers as a machine may help to predict the nature of a computer-based civilization. To know patterns of events in past civilizations may help us to see what is in store for our present society.

        The last chapter of William McGaughey's book, Five Epochs of Civilization, offers speculations concerning the future course of the computer-based society. Based upon analogies with past societies, this book predicts that at some point the present entertainment-based culture will enter a phase of coercion, clearing the way for something new.

        Specifically, entertainment programming may separate from the process of presenting commercial products for sale. People will find cheaper and better ways to buy products by searching the Internet than to rely upon random exposure to products in paid advertisements. Education, too, will utilize the computer's capability for two-way communication. Computer-based education will become sensitive to students' individual needs while offering the same opportunities for economies of scale and cost-cutting as any machine-built product. This means that the very best education will become available to all at a modest price.

        Education may become standardized and concentrated in the hands of a few quality producers. It may become democratized as the institutions of religion and government were in previous epochs of history.

        This "history" is a work in process. We are all involved in its development; and the exciting part is happening now. In this website, we suggest opportunities to participate in that history associated with the fifth civilization.

See Intimations of a Fifth Civilization   (13,765 words)


 

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