The First Technological Revolution and Its Lessons

This passage from the well renowned writer, educator, and philosopher of the 20th century, Peter  Drucker, is a broken down reflection on how the First Technological Revolution continues to influence mankind well into the 21st century. Drucker starts off by pointing out that in this age of digital technological advancement, people continue to be both excited and worried about the potential social, economic, political, and ethical repercussions of such rapid progress. However, he makes the point that the first technological revolution, that of irrigation, has had a long lasting impact on human interaction for thousands of years without many of us being aware of its influence.

The importance of irrigation technologies was not just that it finally allowed humans to settle in one area to grow an endless amount of food, but how that changed the dynamic relationships between those peoples. Drucker mentions throughout this passage that everything from basic writing, law codes, the basis of modern science, standing armies, and the idea of the individual all stem from humans transforming from wandering tribes into solidified civilizations. He continues by saying that no matter which direction it goes, when a society undergoes a major shift in technological advancement, the very fabric of what makes that civilization operational is forcibly altered. This is why in the 18th and 19th centuries, you see such a modification in how people live and interact with each other. What became known as the Industrial Revolution brought about the biggest upheaval in human history up until that point in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

All in all, it is important to understand that so much of the past influences your everyday life, whether you are aware of it or not. However, the future consists of the choices people make every day and how they utilize the potential of the technology available to them.

Written by Giuseppe Vitale: Word count- 309 (without header or text below)

If you would like to read more about Peter Drucker and his theories, you can check out this very well designed and attention grabbing website, hosted by the Peter Drucker Institute.

Also, Drucker wrote a number of books on business philosophy and management. If you would like to read more about why these pieces have been so influential since the mid 20th century, you can check out this informative article from the British Library.


5 Replies to “The First Technological Revolution and Its Lessons”

  1. Guiseppe,

    Great job! You clearly sum up Drucker’s thoughts on irrigation. Irrigation is a technological advancement that many individuals do not consider today. Did reading this article influence your understanding of irrigation and the foundation of modern society? Thank you for including additional links about Peter Drucker and his other works.


  2. It’s interesting that you mentioned the many things that have come about by merely settling a civilization. So many people before these civilizations began we’re just looking for food and that was their purpose day in and day out. It’s like every man for himself scenario but as soon as people came together and started connecting brain power civilizations started to really develop. It’s amazing!

  3. I feel like you did a great job at picking out the important details in the article and at the same time making it easy to follow and understand what the key points in the article were. One example of this is when you mentioned the importance of irrigation technology and how everything we currently have today was because we changed from being hunter-gatherers to staying in one place and making a civilization. When you mentioned that everything we have today like,writing, law codes, science, armies, and the idea of individual, it really made me think how important the first Technological Revolution was to today’s society.

  4. I find it interesting that you mentioned that irrigation lead to a major change in the way people live their lives. In particular, the parallel between the First Technological Revolution and the Industrial Revolution. By comparing the cultural impact of the more recent Industrial Revolution it makes it easier to picture the relevance of the impact of irrigation technology.

  5. Your point about Drucker stating: “in this age of digital technological advancement, people continue to be both excited and worried about the potential social, economic, political, and ethical repercussions of such rapid progress…” caught my attention.
    I know from experience that in the corporate world, the best and worst scenario businesses experience is the development of new technologies. While new technologies help drive the technical world forward by making certain scenarios easier and more cost-effective, within the span of a few days to a few years, another new technology may be developed that makes the prior tech obsolete. This scenario both aids and complicates the economic system of a company, but it also is necessary to create new, stable, economies.

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