“…we’re realizing that the industrial revolution is fading. The 80 year long run that brought ever-increasing productivity (and along with it, well-paying jobs for an ever-expanding middle class) is ending,” writes Seth Godin in a provocative post, perhaps fittingly on this weekend symbolizing rebirth for one of the world’s major religions.

Only problem is his use of the word “ending” – the industrial run, as a driver of economic growth, actually ended a decade or so ago and many are just now awakening to the fact. Not sure? Well, check out Borders, if there is one still open in your area – if so, you’ll see the going out of business signs (pick up your bargains now!). Amazon.com was founded in 1995 and by 2005 entered the S&P 500 and a year ago ” had a market cap higher than Target CorporationHome DepotCostcoBarnes and Noble, and Best Buy, only lagging behind that of Walmart,” per Wikipedia. But even Amazon.com is in trouble, or soon will be if it doesn’t adapt – witness the explosive growth of the Kindle (and its competitor, Nook).

Remember 8-tracks? Replaced by audio cassettes, then CDs and now you can download virtually any music ever written onto a device. Video cassettes, replaced by DVDs, but now available by streaming. Cameras and GPSs, replaced by cell phones. Professional services replaced by software code. Travel being replaced by video conference. Yes, you say, but we still produce cars, and heavy equipment, and… But look a little deeper into how they’re produced – most factories are highly automated, thanks to the ever increasing performance of electronics and, the factory, notes Seth, as the path to the middle class is now full of potholes.

Creative destruction

Yes, the world is changing, but it always has – and we’ve always known this. Joseph Shumpeter, the great Austrian economist, coined the phrase “creative destruction” in the last century, to describe the process of economic growth, decline and rebirth.

More recently, Venezuelan Carlota Perez wrote about Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital, which I blogged about a year ago under The next technological revolution? She’s a little more readable than Shumpeter, but I think she misnamed the last technological revolution: in hindsight, I believe it should have been the age of electronics and telecommunications; I think the current technological revolution we are in the midst of a true information revolution.

Obvious, you say? Perhaps.

But what are you doing about it?