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The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David…

The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath

by Nicco Mele

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The End of Big by Nicco MeleIf Thomas Friedman's thesis in his 2005 The World Is Flat is that globalization has led to a flatter playing field, then The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath tells author Nicco Mele's vision that the ultimate tool of that equalization is the internet.

In truth, it's not a hard argument to make.

An young tech geek when the Howard Dean for President campaign hired him to help with their online fundraising, Mele learned first hand how the internet could allow the little guy to compete with establishment forces, or what he calls the "big" of politics. Using broad strokes, as he calls it in the first chapter, Mele describes a world where, increasingly, the little guy can, by virtue of the internet, take on what is big, whether it be in politics, business, the news media, entertainment, education, government.

Its a fascinating picture. Whether he is citing use of online social media networks in the Arab spring or the rise (and fall) of illicit arms and drugs trade through the Silk Road, touting local communities outsourcing of government functions to minimize costs or sharing anecdotes about online retailers cutting out the middle man and creating their own business, or explaining the rise of bloggers and new media to compete with and disrupt traditional print and broadcast news companies, Mele provides a broad and interesting view of the the world that the internet has made possible.

As interesting as that picture is, however, it does lead to one shortcoming of the book, which, to be clear, Mele owns and anticipates early on. Because he paints in broad strokes, covering so many large areas in general and with anecdotes rather than hard data, the book is perhaps more appropriate to the internet novice than the seasoned or even semi-experienced who have used the internet for more than a simple Google search or Facebook update. It's a great entry overview, but lacks any specifics or guidance for how to reach the kind of success he trumpets.

If you're new to the internet or perhaps looking to understand an area outside of your current usage, The End of Big is perhaps an interesting, and quick, overview that is worth a read. As a user's guide, however, it is perhaps more useful as tales of successes than a course in attaining the skills to join the brave new world.
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  publiusdb | Apr 29, 2014 |
First of all, the author is my firstborn, so I do have a bias. That out of the way, I read this book not once but several times, as he wrote it and most recently a review copy which I just completed. Each rereading impressed me with Nicco's (sorry but he is family!) vision and analysis. I don't agree with everything he asserts in this book, but he works with, teaches and has thought deeply about the impact on society of all of the technologies he examines and I do not. I think this is an important book. ( )
  nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
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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, 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"--… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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