In a Nutshell:
CONNECTION CHANGES THE NATURE OF AN OBJECT*
When we are connected, power shifts.
The best ‘networks and their implications’ book I’ve read in a long time. It’s rare that a writer has both the sense of evolving and future technologies and the ability to be a riveting storyteller. This definitely ticks both boxes.
Ranging from historical stories of power shifts and Eastern spiritual teachers to the changes rocking the world today- terrorism, innovation speed, disruption on centuries old institutions, refugee crisis- this book ties it all together.
Very heavily American in examples because of his background and experience but in here there are lessons for us all. Part futuristic and inspiring, part clarion call warning us to understand better the systems are are building and their implications for the future, I loved practically every page of it.
Here are some of my favourite lines, phrases and provocations.
The Seventh Sense, in short, is the ability to look at any object and see the way in which it is changed by connection.
Power is now passing with a rippling, ripping energy from old, once-useful people and institutions. If this passage has so far wiped out only encyclopedias, telephone companies, and taxi medallions, it is merely because it is just beginning.
In Nan’s youth, in his early sword-fighting days, he had come to understand that mastering the blade of his sword meant first training his spirit to the highest possible level of sharpness. When attacked or when attacking, the spirit of a truly masterful fighter moves first, then – instants later- the sword.
Nan was trying to cultivate in himself deep ways of feeling and sensing the world.
Developing an instinct for the emerging future inspired me to think about networks and how the nature of connection might change my business, the industries I am involved in and the clients I work with. It was at once inspiring and strange to consider these possibilities.
The book also made me wonder about it’s implications for Nepal: is this on the radar of our entrepreneurs? Our youth? Our social sector? What would this fundamental shift do to your business? Are we building things on an old, expiring foundation?
Here we’ll travel in the company of the hackers and activists and diplomats and terrorists who all have this new sensibility.
Terrorism- which is aimed at our psychology and sense of safety as much as any physical structure- is an ancient problem, but it evolves and becomes still more effective when it occurs in a world of superfast networks of media and transportation. Network technologies do to terror attacks what gunpowder once did to projectiles. They make the impact larger.
The First World War was a kind of engineering tragedy. The disaster had deep roots- domestic politics, the insecurity of kings, profound colonial greed- but it also grew out of a fundamental miscalculation about the nature of war and peace in an age of industry.
Fundamentally it involves a change in power. Those people and ideas that prospered in the past might not do so well in the future. And ideas that are coming out of nowhere, that look surprising and impossible and difficult to believe in, may fire up people whom we would never imagine to control our future.
We experience power through networks nor, as we once experienced it through brick-bound institutions such as universities or military headquarters or telephone companies.
Man’s habits change more rapidly than his instincts- historian Charles Coulston.
That’s us. We have all the habits of the new [connected, networked] age. The phones. The emails. The ADD clicking of our keyboards. The hand sanitizers. Now we need to develop the instincts.
Because anything not built for a network age- our politics, our economics, our national security, our education- is going to crack apart under its pressures.
When you invent the ship you also invent the shipwreck -French philosopher Paul Virilio
I can tell my conversations in the coming weeks and months with entrepreneurs, social business founders, senior leaders in business and public sector, movement founders…(and pretty much anyone else interesting I meet!) will include these threads.
Networks don’t merely accelerate our markets, our news, and our innovation. They revolutionize the nature of their power.