- Hardcover: 302 pages
- Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press (October 1, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0875848060
- ISBN-13: 978-0875848068
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.2 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 11 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,649,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Death of Distance: How the Communications Revolution Will Change Our Lives Hardcover – October 1, 1997
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From the advent of electronic communications, there's been talk about how the world has been shrinking. Frances Cairncross, senior editor for the Economist, makes her case from an economical standpoint: The growing ease and speed of communication is creating a world where the miles have little to do with our ability to work or interact together. Cairncross predicts that it won't be long before people organize globally on the basis of language and three basic time shifts--one for the Americas, one for Europe, and one for East Asia and Australia. Much work that can be done on a computer can be done from anywhere. Workers can code software in one part of the world and pass it to a company hundreds of miles away that will assemble the code for marketing. And with workers able to earn a living from anywhere, countries may find themselves competing for citizens as people relocate for reasons ranging from lower taxes to nicer weather. Cairncross discusses about 30 major changes likely to result from these trends, including greater self-policing of businesses, an unavoidable loss of personal privacy, and a diminishing need for countries to want emigration.
From Library Journal
A noted journalist, author, and senior editor at the Economist, Cairncross gives a provocative explanation of how the world will change over the next 50 years. She sees the speed of communication as the most important economic force shaping the upcoming century and addresses the enormous changes sweeping through the process of communications. Cairncross predicts that distance, location, and company size will be overtaken by customization, brand awareness, niches, mobility, and loose-knittedness as major factors in business. A deluge of information will occur alongside a loss of privacy, business will operate in an inversion of home and office, and national authority will decline with reduced immigration and a rebirth of cities and a rebalance of political power. With less emphasis on taxation in a cultural community of world peace, markets will be near-frictionless and global yet with more local provision. Light on jargon, this perceptive, easy-to-read book is highly recommended for a broad audience.?Joseph W. Leonard, Miami Univ., Oxford, Ohio
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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In this volume (first published in 1997), Cairncross carefully organizes her material within ten chapters following a Preface in which she observes: "The new ideas in this book are about the many ways in which the most significant technological changes of our time will affect the next century -- and your life. You will find a preview of the most important in 'The Trendspotter's Guide to New Communications' that immediately follows this preface; the rest of the book sets out to interpret and elaborate these key points." in which she identifies and then briefly discusses "Ten Rules for Survival." I have a minor quibble with the title because I think that technological changes to which Cairncross refers have not caused the death of distance; rather, they have re-defined it.
With regard to the aforementioned important developments, Cairncross identifies and then briefly discusses 30 which range from "The Death of Distance" to "Global Peace." All are valid even as some readers may believe that others should be added to the list or replace some of those included. There are several in which I have special interest, including #27, "Communities of Culture." Cairncross suggests that "electronic communications will reinforce less widespread languages and cultures. not replace them with Anglo-Saxon and Hollywood. The declining cost of creating and distributing many entertainment products and the corresponding increase in production capacity will also reinforce local cultures and help scattered peoples and families to preserve their cultural heritage." Once again, many readers who agree on the importance of such trends may disagree with the implications which Cairncross derives from them. Fair enough.
In the final chapter, "Government and the Nation State," Cairncross duly acknowledges that being able to communicate may not be enough to keep the nations of the earth at peace with one another "but it is a start." Thanks to new technologies now available or which will soon become available, people will become less susceptible to, indeed dependent on propaganda from politicians who seek to stir up conflicts. Cairncross concludes, "Bonded together by the invisible strands of global communications, humanity may find that peace and prosperity are fostered by the death of distance." She held out that possibility in 1997. Whether or not it remains a reasonable possibility is for each reader to determine. As I compose this review, violence continues to erupt in the Middle East and elsewhere; extensive poverty worldwide persists and could become even worse. Death does indeed have many faces.
This revised version covers more topics than the original. It explores the rise and fall of the dot-com phenomenon, the spread of mobile telephones, the wave of hi-tech mergers, the lasting power of the new economy, trends in e-commerce, organizational restructuring to adapt to the Internet, the impact of patent law as it pertains to communications, and the democratizing effects of communications technology on worldwide societies as a whole.
Francis Cairncross writes eloquently and convincingly about the cataclysmic changes sweeping through our means of communication. She discusses how the consequences of such changes will tilt the balance between large and small, rich and poor, as they influence where companies locate, what kind of work people do, how governments raise revenue, which businesses succeed etc.
Amongst the most striking trends, she sees citizens with a greater freedom to locate anywhere, thus leaving governments to reduce tax burdens in an attempt to attract higher income-earners. She sees, too, the continuing rise of English as a global language in business and commerce. She foretells, too, of new opportunities and challenges we will face in a wireless world.
I disagree with those who claim that, just because we have the ability to do something, doesn't mean we will do it and change society. If people don't want mobile phones, why do they buy them? If people don't like the Internet, why do they use it? My own experience (Brit living in France, working in various European countries, employed by an American company) tells its own story. Twenty years ago, my situation would have been considered almost unique. Today it is commonplace. AND YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHIN' YET !