“Thinkglobal, act local.”1
—Rene Dubos, biologist and environmentalist in 1972
“Think local, act global.”2
—Izumi Aizu, Japanese Internet pioneer in 1985
WILLIAM THOMAS STEAD WAS ONE OF THE MOST PROMINENT newspaper editors of Victorian England, a muckraking journalist who was once jailed for buying a young girl in London’s slums and reselling her to a brothel to prove that the city was infested with child prostitution. Always controversial, he was a teetotaling puritan, a pacifist, and a spiritualist with a snow-white beard and striking blue eyes.
In 1893, Stead decided to visit the Centennial Exposition in Chicago, but because he arrived from New York the evening it closed, he didn’t see it until the next day. The contrast between the pristine, practically empty fairgrounds and the crowded tenements of the city impressed him sufficiently to provide the fodder for two books. If Christ Came to Chicago contrasted the “Ivory City” of the World’s Fair to the darkness of the city’s crowded slums. That book is credited with launching the City Beautiful movement that tried to bring American cities up the standards of those in Europe. But it was the second book that had the greater impact on his European readers.
The Americanization of the World saw an ominous future laid out in the gleaming white pavilions of the Chicago World’s Fair. It was a future of Ferris wheels, electric light displays, and food novelties such