'The Road Ahead': Will We Laud or Lament Our Destination?

By Nolan, Michael | Public Management, May 1996 | Go to article overview

'The Road Ahead': Will We Laud or Lament Our Destination?


Nolan, Michael, Public Management


In Bill Gates's bestseller, The Road Ahead, the master of Microsoft describes an information highway that doesn't exist yet. The Internet we know today is comparable to the Oregon Trail, merely the start of the future information highway system. Gates forecasts a highly competitive tomorrow in which global phone companies will set up the internet in direct competition with voice networks. All the world's goods will be available for examination, and customers' computers will "haggle" with sellers' computers. "It will be a shopper's heaven."

Gates acknowledges the problems of information overload, business and worker dislocations, loss of privacy, and national security concerns that may result. He also recognizes that society must address equity issues. "The information society should serve all of its citizens, not [just] the technically sophisticated and economically privileged." He does not specify how this could occur. Rather, he concludes, "We are watching something historic happen, and it will affect the world seismically, as the invention of printing and the arrival of the Industrial Age did. If the information highway increases the understanding that citizens of one country have of their neighbors and reduces international tensions, that, in and of itself, might justify the cost of implementation."

Are the reduced tensions and harmony envisioned in The Road Ahead going to happen? Among numerous emerging trends, several forecast a more perilous transformation than the one suggested by Bill Gates.

Extinction of national cultures. Edward Cornish, president of the World Future. Society, calculates that the world's population now speaks several thousand languages, "but within the next century perhaps 90 percent will disappear. . . . Global computer networks and telecommunications systems are reinforcing the status of English as the dominant international language. . . . Ultimately, English may become the native language of most people around the world," says Cornish in the January/February 1996 issue of The Futurist magazine.

Decline of the nation-state. The rise of multinational corporations continues to diminish the significance of national boundaries. According to William Van Dusen Wishard, in the Commonwealth Foundation book Building a Community of Citizens, more than 50 percent of effects on the U.S. economy are due to global forces not controlled by Washington policymakers. Though many economists argue that these relationships promote international accord and interdependency, there is no national consensus. Such findings regarding the NAFTA agreement, for example, remain inconclusive. The decline of nations may accentuate antagonisms that common citizens already feel toward conniving politicians who they believe are aiding and abetting the "haves" at the expense of the "have-nots."

Unraveling of civil society. A combination of factors, including the failure of the welfare state, the destruction of the family, and the increase of temporal values, are transforming societies. Cultures succumb to the marketplace. Unfortunately, the global shopping center esteems and presents ideas that entertain and sell, not necessarily ideas that nourish. For 30-plus years, the entertainment industry has denied the connection between film and television violence and societal health, claiming that "it's only entertainment!" Filmmaking has become amoral, "a business characterized by wildly egocentric, if not downright sociopathic, behavior," says Barbara Maltby in the Winter 1996 issue of The American Scholar.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

'The Road Ahead': Will We Laud or Lament Our Destination?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.