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New Rules For The New Economy: 10 Radical Strategies For A Connected World
by Kevin Kelly
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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-- 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
From Publishers Weekly
The "new economy," posits Wired executive editor Kelly in his smart but confusing book, "has three distinguishing characteristics: It is global. It favors intangible thingsAideas, information, and relationships. And it is intensely interlinked." Kelly uses this system of fluid networks to replace traditional linear models of business interrelationships. In one "rule," Kelly unexpectedly suggests that a company's goods become more valuable as their price moves closer "to free"; in another he urges companies to abandon the pursuit of proven successes. If these claims at first appear dubious, closer examination shows that they're not without credibility. In a network economy, he argues, selling technologies cheaply increases supply and spurs demand for valuable services that use these technologies. Relying on proven successes, Kelly says, discourages companies from developing new technologiesAthe linchpin of a rapidly changing network economy. Unfortunately, Kelly builds his case in a haphazard, often overheated way, complete with empty jargon like "re-intermediation." Even when offering the more concrete observation that a network economy means that customersAnot vendorsAoften drive transactions, Kelly can't resist straying into a discussion of privacy on the Net. Perhaps the author intended his jumble to serve as a metaphor for the often overwhelming interconnectivity he describes, but readers will have a hard time working through the muddle and hype. B&w illustrations throughout. Author tour. (Oct.) FYI: Cornell/ILR's book of the same title on the changing demcgraphics of the American workforce was reviewed in the August 10 issue.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
The executive editor for Wired proposes ten new rules for getting by in business these days, e.g., "Embrace the Swarm: The Power of Decentralization."
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From The Industry Standard
The new animated movie Antz advocates a social system in which each ant benefits from the work of many. Two social groups coexist, and neither can survive without the other. Call it a network.
Kevin Kelly paints a nearly identical picture of the digital future in New Rules for the New Economy.Individualism is over, he says that is, if you want to make a profit. In the windy prose style he has been offering as executive editor of Wired since its 1993 launch, Kelly insists on a new order in both the economic and social realms.
The future is already here. The average farmers are now wired: Sitting in their tractors, they use mobile communications to access the weather and the health of crops. Through such everyday examples, Kelly demonstrates how the networked economy relates to readers_ daily lives, as well as how a social group like a business can be in tune with each link in its organizational chain and create greater efficiencies.
To ensure this new economic future, New Rules lays out 10 rules, ending each chapter with strategies that spell out how today_s executives can ensure a successfully networked tomorrow.
Though Kelly makes a strong argument, he is likely to lose readers who aren_t interested in knowing how exactly technology works. The author_s greatest fault lies in believing that the future isn_t just based on new technology, but that it requires individuals to understand how packets and switches work in order to succeed.
While Kelly_s work at Wired has surely put him at the forefront of visionary thinking, his writing has the ring of an academic text. Those who have followed Kelly over the years will find few new ideas here, only an efficient repackaging into one neat little book.
Upside, Noah Shachtman
Soon all business will be Net business. Everything from cattle on a ranch to the shirts on our backs will be embedded with a silicon chip. And each of these chips, suggests Kevin Kelly, executive editor of Wired and author of New Rules for the New Economy, will be linked to the network, transmitting tiny droplets of data that will add up to an enormous reservoir of information about how we buy and sell, work and play. How do you prepare for this future? Embrace the rules of the Net: Give away your products (or come damned close), detonate hierarchies in favor of organic organizational structures, and push to become the universally adopted standard in your field. The author paints a compelling, well-written vision for how the technology-driven world will work. But you'd better take Kelly's prognostications with an industrial-size dose of salt. He's the master of breathlessly declaring the trends of the moment the standards of the future.
Kelly is a founding editor of Wired, the edgy magazine for those who are connected, and he continues to serve as its executive editor. Previously, he was an editor and publisher of the Whole Earth Review. He has also written Out of Control: The Rise of Neo-Biological Civilization (1994), in which he suggests that the same principles that govern biological systems can, should, and will be applied to technical systems and information networks. He now takes the next step to show how those networks will drive the economy. Kelly is full of bold new ideas, but they can be obscured by his exuberance. He is even more adept than management sloganeer Tom Peters at turning a hip-sounding but enigmatic phrase. To wit, 5 of his 10 strategies are embrace the swarm; follow the free; no harmony; all flux; and feed the Web. He does try to explicate, but often it is just more of the same. Readers of Wired will probably get it; others may find themselves looking for the proverbial emperor's clothes. David Rouse
From Kirkus Reviews
A look at the future through a rose-tinted crystal computer monitor. It's amazing how one person's nightmare can make someone else giddy. Kelly, executive editor of Wired magazine, gleefully looks forward to a ``new global economic culture'' that is characterized, ``most important[ly], by a widespread reliance on economic values as the basis for making decisions in all walks of life.'' Confronted with extensive alienation from noneconomic human life, Kelly advises us to accept the inevitable and join the electronically induced information age; only those failing to heed the siren call of cyberspace will encounter difficulties. Fortunately, Kelly provides ten rules to guide us on our way in the new economic order, essentially asserting that the entire world will soon look like the current World Wide Web - where power multiplies through connections, maintaining the network is crucial, change is constant, and even successful innovations are quickly left behind - and insisting that we must accept risk and act boldly. The possibilities are tremendous, for we are ``about to witness an explosion of entities built on relationships and technology that will rival the early days of life on Earth in their variety.'' It's also possible that Kelly is a bit overenthusiastic. He offers no guarantees, of course, but in the new alchemy of the future, it is abundance, not scarcity, that creates value, and concerns with, for instance, distribution of resources, equal opportunity, or the fate of individuals and nations not ``hardwired'' into this new reality are barely worth mentioning. For the doubters unable to block out thoughts about the victims of Kelly's future, however, there is some comfort. As he recognizes, predictions based on a selective reading of current trends are notoriously inaccurate, and all that differentiates his prognostications from failures of the past is that time has not yet proven him wrong. Let's hope it does so in a manner that discourages further soothsaying. (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
Wired, Michael Schrage
Blunt, tight, and explicitly written not to be obsolesced by The Next Great Web-Business buzzword, New Rules is sure to provoke attitude from the SoMa, Sand Hill Road, and Redmond crowds.... a whirlwind of ideas backed up by evidence.
The old rules are broken. The current revolution in business requires nothing less than a new set of rules. Succinct and memorable, New Rules is the survival kit for the new economy. Kelly's manifesto in Wired brought rave reviews from business gurus such as Tom Peters, and praise from think tanks and business strategists from all over the world. New Rules will wake up the business world. Forget supply and demand. Forget computers. Today, communication, not computation, drives change. We are rushing into a world where connectivity is everything, and where old business know-how means nothing. In this new order, success flows primarily from understanding networks, and networks have their own rules. In New Rules, Kelly presents ten fundamental principles of the connected economy that invert the traditional wisdom of the industrial world. New Rules explains why these powerful laws are already hardwired into the new economy, and how they play out in all kinds of business--both low and high tech--all over the world. More than just a profound overview of new economic principles, New Rules prescribes many clear and specific strategies for success in the network economy. New Rules answers the perplexing questions all workers, from CEOs to middle managers, are asking themselves: What's happened? Why aren't the usual business strategies working anymore? New Rules is a spirited and mold-breaking book that follows the footsteps of futuristic best-sellers such as Megatrends, The Year 2000, and FutureShock. It is a hands-on, cutting edge tool for everyone worried about the future, and especially helpful for anyone curious about where the economy is going. The moral of New Rules is clear: Those who play by the new rules will prosper; those who ignore them will not.
About the Author
Kevin Kelly, author of the acclaimed Out of Control (called "required reading for all executives" by Fortune) is editor-at-large of Wired magazine. He has been involved in such cultural innovations as The Hacker's Conference and The Well. He lives in the Bay Area.
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