Are you prepared for the digital economy, or will it destroy you? This question is one that dominates Don Tapscott's The Digital Economy. The answer, as one might expect, is rather complex. Few people today would deny that the microprocessor has radically changed the way we live, the way we work and even the way we play. Back in the 1960s we joked about computers taking over. It was even a common theme in science fiction. These novels were written to be frightening, but somehow they were so preposterous they were comical. Things are different today. Not only has the computer turned out to be all-pervasive, it has happened in a way that nobody predicted. Don Tapscott is a well-known observer of this new world and The Digital Economy has been written partly as a warning and partly as a guide. It is a warning to those who are not yet 'wired' that if they do not change now, they run the risk of being put out of business. It is a guidebook in that it attempts to show the inexperienced how to deal with this new digital world. Tapscott certainly knows his subject and is not just trying to cash-in on a hot topic. He is a proponent of a digital world and in places the book may appear to some to be a little too optimistic. He is rarely pessimistic about the consequences of a digital world and that is probably the weakest part of the book. There are wonderful examples of how the digital economy has already begun to change the way business is done. Tapscott cites the now classic example of Boeing's 777, an aircraft completely designed with computers on a world-wide network. He shows how it was possible to bring in the opinion of customers - in this case United and Cathay Pacific - to help in the design. Tapscott is safest and most believable when he is talking about how businesses will probably change - how, in fact, they are changing right now. When he ventures into educational or political areas, he is rather less convincing. A theme that is brought up many times is the idea that with the Internet and a computer we shall all be getting 'customised' news stories in the morning on our computer screens, instead of watching the news on television. It would seem that it is only a matter of time before such a system is possible and then it will be moved over to television. I wonder, however, how desirable this is, if we each have the ability to determine what the headline news is. Watching something like the Nine O'Clock News on the BBC, we feel a certain sense of community. If Tapscott is right and the digital economy kills network television and organisations such as the BBC, what will take their place? Indeed, the whole idea of 'interactive multi-media' is something that may never prove as popular as Tapscott thinks. It may well become a part of dealing with banks, shopping on-line and other related matters. But it is difficult to imagine that ordinary people will ever come to terms with the intricacies of creating a multi-media product, even if the software makes it easier. The Digital Economy is, nevertheless, a book well worth reading. Tapscott goes out on a limb - as all those who wish to predict the future do. Not everything he says will happen, but there is reason to believe that a good deal of it will. For anyone who has not yet embraced the digital world or who is uncertain about it, this book will certainly provide a view of a possible future. One must also remember that Tapscott may even be right. The Digital Economy. Published by McGraw Hill. $237.