At the turning point between the twentieth century and the twenty-first, a new kind of economy is coming into being, and a new kind of society, and a new kind of city: some might say no city at all, the end of the city as we have known it, but they will doubtless prove wrong. The driver, as so many times before in this long history, is technology: this time, information technology. But it will not drive, indeed never has driven, in any simple or determinist way: new technology shapes new opportunities, to create new industries and transform old ones, to present new ways of organizing firms or entire societies, to transform the potential for living; but it does not compel these changes, and certainly in some societies and in some places the resulting opportunities may never be seized. There will always be leaders and laggards. Just as Manchester led the way at the end of the eighteenth century, Detroit at the end of the nineteenth, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area in the middle of the twentieth, so surely will new cities blaze a trail in the coming century. There will be choices; and societies can influence those choices by conscious decision.
The essence of the present change is this: (…), we are moving from an industrial era to an informational era, from an era in which most people worked to make or handle goods, to one in which most of us will make and manipulate and transmit and exchange information. Advanced economies, (…) are already nearly at that point: in them, close on half the workforce are already engaged in informational industries and occupations. At the end of the day, producing goods still matters, of course: we still consume not merely food and shelter but also an increasing range of items that are chosen for their qualities of fashion or prestige. But even in producing and distributing those, information becomes of steadily greater importance.