This does not mean that technology explains, or is the single cause of, change. The relationship between technology and society goes both ways. Greek and Roman technology stagnated because society lacked structures that could transform bright ideas and clever inventions into social practices.
Today, it is digital technology rather than steam, steel, industrial chemistry or electricity that drives social change. New technologies of communication, information processing and automatic control are interacting with the social structures of late industrial society – and change many of the basic rules by which we used to operate. The growth of digital technology is impressive, but it is the social impact that will matter in the end.
Imagining the Internet
Pew Internet & American Life Project is one of the major sources of data and thinking on digital trends in the United States. In 2000, the Project planned a database of predictions together with Elon University in North Carolina. This resulted in a massive web site: Imagining the Internet: a history and forecast.
I quote from their 2008 study predicting conditions in 2020:
Few lines divide professional time from personal time, and that’s OK.
In 2020, well-connected knowledge workers in more-developed nations have willingly eliminated the industrial-age boundaries between work hours and personal time. Outside of formally scheduled activities, work and play are seamlessly integrated in most of these workers’ lives.
This is a net-positive for people. They blend personal/professional duties wherever they happen to be when they are called upon to perform them—from their homes, the gym, the mall, a library, and possibly even their company’s communal meeting space, which may exist in a new virtual-reality format .