Synopses & Reviews
How seemingly innocuous technologies are unsettling the balance of power by putting it in the hands of the masses - and what a world without "big" will mean for all of us.In The End of Big
, social media pioneer, political and business strategist, and Harvard Kennedy School faculty member Nicco Mele offers a fascinating, sometimes frightening look at how our ability to stay connected - constantly, instantly, and globally - is dramatically changing our world.Governments are being upended by individuals relying only on social media. Major political parties are seeing their power eroded by grassroots forces through online fund-raising. Universities are scrambling to preserve their student populations in the face of less expensive, more accessible online courses. Print and broadcast news outlets are struggling to compete with citizen journalists and bloggers. Our traditional institutions are being disrupted in revolutionary ways, some for the better. But, as Nicco Mele argues, the benefits of new technology come with unintended consequences. In The End of Big
, Mele examines:
Mele argues that unless we exercise caution in our use of these new technologies, we risk a dark and wildly unstable future, one in which our freedoms and basic human values could be destroyed rather than enhanced. Both hopeful and alarming, The End of Big is a thought-provoking, passionately argued book that offers genuine insight into the ways we are using technology, and how it is radically changing our world in ways we are only now beginning to understand.
- How fringe political forces enter the mainstream and gain traction using everyday technology - with the enormous potential to undermine central power
- What happens when investigative journalism is replaced by ad hoc bloggers, mobile video, and instantaneous tweets…and whether they challenge or simply enable power
- Why Web-based micro-businesses are outcompeting major corporations, and what innovations will alter the way we work, own things, and pay for goods and services
- The collapse of traditional party politics, and the rise of a new kind of democracy, one which could produce dynamic and effective leaders…or demagogues
- How citizen initiatives can replace local and state government functions, such as safety regulations, tax collection, and garbage pickup, and do so cheaper, faster, and better
"Mele overstates the obvious in yet another dire warning about the promises and perils of technology, in this case the Internet, and the siren's lure of the radical connectivity it fosters. The promise of such connectivity to democratize the world and create community arises, he observes, precisely because our institutions government, media, military, entertainment have failed us in significant ways. For example, in an era of radical connectivity, when anyone with a blog can act as a journalist reporting the news, will such a blog be able to ask tough questions and hold politicians and corporations accountable? Can a blogger who offers simple reports, without taking a position on the news everyone wants to read, replace the investigative reporting of a major media source? Can radical connectivity create new political institutions that act as the major political parties did before money took hold, and encourage action for the public good? Mele concludes with the old adage that it's not the technology but the people behind it that can foster either its beneficent or malign use. He proposes several ways that we can inhabit this new world, including a 'focus on making institutions more amenable and responsive to individuals' and a 'demand for serious, thoughtful, informed leadership.' We must also, he declares, 'strengthen and reimagine local community.' With lackluster prose and sweeping generalizations, though, Mele's tiresome rehearsal of long-familiar questions fails to join or advance the conversation about these matters. Lorin Rees, Rees Literary Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
How seemingly innocuous technologies are unsettling the balance of power by putting it in the hands of the masses—and what a world without "big" will mean for all of us
In The End of Big, Internet pioneer and Harvard Kennedy School lecturer Nicco Mele draws on nearly twenty years of experience to explore the consequences of revolutionary technology.
Our ability to connect instantly, constantly, and globally is altering the exercise of power with dramatic speed. Governments, corporations, centers of knowledge, and expertise are eroding before the power of the individual. It can be good in some cases, but as Mele reveals, the promise of the Internet comes with a troubling downside. He asks:
- How does radical thinking underpin the design of everyday technology—and undermine power?
- How do we trust information when journalists are replaced by bloggers, phone videos, and tweets?
- Two-party government: will its collapse bring us qualified leaders, or demagogues and special-interest-backed politicians?
- Web-based micro-businesses can out-compete major corporations, but who enforces basic regulations—product safety, privacy protection, fraud, and tax collection?
- Currency, health and safety systems, rule of law: when these erode, are we better off?
Unless we exercise deliberate moral choice over the design and use of technologies, Mele says, we doom ourselves to a future that tramples human values, renders social structures chaotic, and destroys rather than enhances freedom. Both hopeful and alarming, thought-provoking and passionately-argued, The End of Big is an important book about our present—and our future.
Governments fear—and sometimes fall before—individuals relying only on social media. Major political parties see their power eroded by grassroots forces through online fund-raising. Universities scramble to preserve their student populations in the face of less expensive, more accessible online courses. Print and broadcast news outlets struggle to compete with citizen journalists and bloggers.
Is it the end of big?
Social media pioneer, political and business strategist, and Harvard Kennedy School faculty member Nicco Mele offers a fascinating, sometimes frightening look at how our ability to stay connected—constantly, instantly, and globally—is dramatically changing our world. As our traditional institutions are being disrupted in revolutionary ways, we risk a dark and wildly unstable future, one in which our freedoms and basic human values could be destroyed rather than enhanced. Both hopeful and alarming, The End of Big is a thought-provoking, passionately argued book that offers genuine insight into the ways we are using technology, and how it is radically changing our world in ways we are only now beginning to understand.
About the Author
NICCO MELE is a leading forecaster of business, politics, and culture in our fast-moving digital age. Named by Esquire magazine as one of Americas “Best and Brightest,” he served as webmaster for Howard Deans 2004 presidential campaign and popularized the use of technology and social media for political fund-raising, reshaping American politics. Not long after, he helped lead the online efforts for Barack Obama in his successful bid for the U.S. Senate. Meles firm, EchoDitto, is a leading Internet strategy company working with nonprofit organizations and Fortune 500 companies, among them Google, AARP, the Clinton Global Initiative, the United Nations, and others. He also serves on a number of boards, including the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard, is a cofounder of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, and is on the faculty at Harvards Kennedy School of Government.