Monday, April 1, 2013

THE END OF BIG by Nicco Mele

Why are newspapers shuttering and big businesses shuddering? Because David is the new Goliath in the new open source internet age. According to THE END OF BIG by Nicco Mele there are good things coming from this, and bad things. Among the good is the Arab Spring, and the flight of the corrupt despot that ran Tunisia. Due in part to WikiLeaks and a band of hackers calling themselves Anonymous, the lies of Scientology, along with the dirty secrets of governments and big business, have been exposed to "disinfecting sunlight." Being a political strategist and Harvard professor, Mele talks about the melee happening within cyberspace, where fundamentally volatile and independent groups of people gain power over brick-and-mortar institutions, (and the ramifications of this.) Do we need big institutions to keep chaos and unaccountability from degrading society? Mele says that in many cases, yes.  There has to be big in order for certain things to be exist, like high concept movies and research hospitals. But in other cases, such as taking on the corruption within a Congress and Senate now more about maintaining power with money than anything else (plus Wall Street's buying of politicians), grassroots efforts to expose the frauds and kickbacks (while imposing term limits) may be the only way to save America. This book offers a broad view of our situation, with both pros and cons examined, in an effort to avoid the unintended consequences of rampant technological advances. The world is becoming smaller and more open, but also more volatile and unpredictable. Our old policy of shaping nations through military power projection is coming to end, not only because we can't afford it anymore, but because we can't plan or understand a world that is moving too fast, with cultures changing daily in art, music, literature, science, and in values. With fossil fuels going to possibly $14 a gallon in twenty-five years, big business itself--dependent on cheap oil--is largely doomed. What will replace it small, local, craft-based businesses, and this even goes for energy, food production, clothing, and transportation. Sharing companies are already here, where you can join a network to rent your idle car or idle room. The promise of small, says Mele, is survival and a reversal of the degradation of the planet in the name of profit. Narrated by Sean Runnette, this audiobook is well worth hearing and contemplating because, in the end, it offers promise to those whose diet of zombie films and survival shows relates to a grim outlook on the future. The alternative to such chaos is individuals working to save their communities, and thereby the world.

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