Russell, Cheryl. The Master Trend How the Baby Boom Generation Is Remaking America
New York: Perseus 1993
ISBN 0306445077

Page 57

The culture of the personalized economy is already pervasive: public faxes, automatic teller machines, cellular phone companies, video outlets, computer stores, fast-food restaurants, and twenty-four-hour supermarkets line the highways of urban and suburban America. The contrast between the culture of free agents and the communal culture of the 1950s could not be greater: microwaves versus ovens; fast-food restaurants versus family dinners; fax machines or telephones versus letters; televisions versus newspaper; computer networks versus libraries; videos versus books; credit cards versus saving accounts; twenty-four-hour shopping versus banker’s hours.

While many older Americans still cling to the communal culture of mid-century, most of those under 50 --particularly Americans who must work for a living—belong to the culture of free agents, if not out of choice then out of necessity.

The culture of free agents is fast and personal. Speed is the competitive edge in the personalized economy, giving rise to one-hour film processing, walk-in medical clinics, 30-minute pizza delivery, and one-minute managers. The ultimate consequence of the fast-paced culture of free agents is “real time” products and services. These are products and services delivered at the instant someone demands them. The telephone, an instrument of “real time” communication, is more popular than the mail. The fax is displacing overnight delivery. Television itself offers an increasing amount of real-time information through twenty-four-hour news networks and live reporting.