Peter Drucker; Rick Wartzman; management; 0071762205So, just how many Americans DOES it take to make a Facebook? Much is said about how America doesn’t make anything anymore, that it’s falling behind, that it doesn’t lead anymore. But what’s the single biggest influence shaping society today? Social media: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube—each undeniably as world-changing as the automobile and each one Made in the USA. But in the 21st Century, “making things” doesn’t mean what it used to mean. The biggest influences on business, politics, and everyday human existence are just a different type of “product.”

In his new book What Would Drucker Do Now?, Rick Wartzman, writes that Peter Drucker, one of the foremost business thinkers of the 20th Century, predicted “an era in which labor, land, and capital are less important and ‘the main producers of wealth have become information and knowledge.’” But is all wealth creation really created equal?

When a company like Ford experienced business growth in its heyday, it came in the form of thousands of jobs, and the rise of entire towns and communities. This benefitted not just employees, but Ford and the companies that supplied it as well. The more workers who received paychecks related to the production of cars, the bigger the market for Henry Ford’s automobiles. Irrespective of its vast scope of its influence, though, Twitter’s doesn’t create nearly as many jobs. And why should Twitter care? The service is free. You don’t need a job to send a tweet.

The world resembles Drucker’s prediction more and more every day. In 1959, he coined the phrase “knowledge worker” to describe the employee of the future—a person who deals solely with creating and managing information.

But how many knowledge workers does the world need?