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Books

New Rules for the New Economy: 10 Radical Strategies for a Connected World
by Kevin Kelly

New Rules for the New Economy: 10 Radical Strategies for a Connected World

There's hype and then there's the Internet. The widespread emergence of the World Wide Web and the idea of a network economy have set new records for excess in overheated marketing campaigns, breathless newspaper and magazine articles, and topsy-turvy financial markets. From his perch as founding editor of Wired magazine, Kevin Kelly has long been one of the new economy's chief hypesters. In New Rules for the New Economy, Kelly tries to encapsulate the characteristics of this emerging economic order by laying out 10 rules for how the wired world operates. The result is a dizzying, sometimes confusing, but always thought-provoking look at the behavior of networks and their effect on our economic lives. At the root of this network revolution is communication. As Kelly writes: Communication is the foundation of society, of our culture, of our humanity, of our own individual identity, and of all economic systems. This is why networks are such a big deal. Communication is so close to culture and society itself that the effects of technologizing it are beyond the scale of a mere industrial-sector cycle. Communication, and its ally computers, is a special case in economic history. Not because it happens to be the fashionable leading business sector of our day, but because its cultural, technological, and conceptual impacts reverberate at the root of our lives. Kelly's genius lies in synthesizing large amounts of information in unique and interesting ways. His ability to turn a phrase is reflected in the names he gives to his 10 rules, and it makes this book a pleasure to read. Some, for example, are: “Embrace the Swarm: The Power of Decentralization“ (Rule 1); “No Harmony, All Flux: Seeking Sustainable Disequilibrium“ (Rule 8); and “Let Go at the Top: After Success, Devolution“ (Rule 6). A few of his ideas have a kind of Teflon quality that makes them elusive and difficult to evaluate. But that's OK. Like other prognosticators of the future--Alvin Toffler and John Naisbitt come to mind--Kelly's job is to imagine a new world. Far from hype, New Rules for the New Economy is required reading for anyone pondering business in the not-too-distant future. --Harry C. Edwards

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