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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:

 

    • 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 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.
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review by . June 09, 2013
"Every day I find more and more evidence that we are in the twilight of our own age, and that we can't quite grasp it, even if we sense something is terribly amiss. This transformation transcends any one realm of life--it's all encompassing, even if, as we've seen, it proceeds unevenly and paradoxically. Our twentieth century institutions, which seem as foundational or ahistorical as hereditary monarchy, are on the cusp of collapse--or, if not outright collapse, of irrelevancy and anachronism." …
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