The Control Revolution: How the Internet Is Putting Individuals in Charge and Changing the World We Know

The Control Revolution: How the Internet Is Putting Individuals in Charge and Changing the World We Know

The Control Revolution: How the Internet Is Putting Individuals in Charge and Changing the World We Know

The Control Revolution: How the Internet Is Putting Individuals in Charge and Changing the World We Know

Synopsis

The author explains how the Internet revolution has really affected our lives. He argues that the common thread underlying developments is not just a change in how we compute or communicate but a shift in who is in control.

Excerpt

For much of this century, the United States has been both the principal agent of the rapid and widespread dissemination of technical innovation and the nation most profoundly changed by it. In the field of communications, although other nations produce a fair share of the hardware, the U.S. continues to set the pace. The American approach to information, broadly conceived, is sweeping the globe at almost light speed, creating a revolution in how people see the world.

The changes under way go far deeper than Asians or Europeans acquiring a taste for McDonald's hamburgers or Michael Jordan's jump shot; they are bringing about a reconception of one of the most basic components of experience: time. We send the numbers NOW, we learn the world news NOW we see the latest fashions NOW; we share the latest scandal NOW. We even have a new name for the sort of time in which these things happen and are shared with us: real time. The term suggests not just immediacy, but also, perhaps, a new sort of reality.

The twentieth century's information revolution has fueled an expanding set of expectations about what we can know as well as when we can know it. The evolutionary and transforming aspects of advanced communications are especially important because, in the modern world, the stream of data, news, gossip, comedy, sports, and other information seems to surround and permeate our lives. In this environment, defenders of local traditions and language everywhere feel overmatched. The process seems driven by an almost palpable and irresistible alien force -- a force seemingly determined to assimilate all societies into a vast and uniform worldwide information culture. In fact, considering the pace of globalized communication, marketing, and commerce, it seems possible that resistance is futile.

Our daily lives were first drastically reordered by radio and then television. The spread of broadcasting, of course, knit diverse audi-

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