Literature – Next: The Future Just Happened

A book by Michael Lewis that takes a look at several “case studies” from the dot com era.

His first study is of Nokia in Finland. Nokia has been so successful in Finland, and the rest of the world, because they listened to kids. Kids have no problem forgetting what they know and picking up new stuff (i.e. technology) very quickly. Text messaging started with kids and moved to adults. Originally adults did not see a use for the technology, but after seeing the kids adapt to it, and it to them; it progressed to the older generations.

Next he discusses the prosecution of Jonathan Lebed by the United States Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). Jonathan was a 15-year old kid that played the system day-trading and the book discusses how the SEC tried to make sense of what he did and “punish” him. Jonathan had to pay a penalty of $200k+, but kept $800k+ – not bad for a kid. He was an outsider that had no preconceived notions of what he should do, or more importantly – what he should not to do.

Next chapter was about 15-yr old Marcus Arnold. He had no legal training, but became an on-line legal expert on askme.com. I don’t know if he gave good advice or not, but he sounded convincing and that was enough to fool the lawyers. Once it was discovered he was a kid, the lawyers were all up in arms, but the folks that he had been giving advice too supported him and kept ranked as one of the most popular advice givers [is that a word?]

Next chapter covers the birth of gnutella, the folks behind it, what drove them, and the challenges they faced. This chapter also discusses the band Marillion and how they used the internet to promote the band and get their music to the fans without the record companies being involved. A whole new model was born to fund record production, generate sales, and communicate with the fans.

Next chapter talks about capital and the internet. His theory is that the capital (money) will go to the “edges” because that is where the growth is. The markets gets set in their ways, but the people who want to push the envelope, or look for excitement, drive technology that forces change. But after awhile the edges become the center and then the cycle starts over. The trick is for the folks on the edge to keep pushing out and not get complacent.

In this chaper he also talks about how TIVO got started and how it has turned the entertainment industry upside down.

In the final chapter he talks about the Knowledge Networks and their tracking polls via set-top boxes. A small company put the boxes in a diverse set of homes and is able to get real time feedback (polls) from the viewers. This has resulted in a much more accurate snapshot of what the people are thinking.

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