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The End of Big: How the Digital Revolution Makes David the New Goliath Paperback – May 13, 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

We are in a time of unprecedented connectivity, but it’s not without risks. Mele contends technology is bringing about the imminent downfall, or at least the transformation, of our big institutions, including journalism, government, entertainment, and industry. He puts into words the rumbling many have been feeling in their guts for years, the sense that the radically connected world is changing society and not necessarily for the better. Mele, whose firm EchoDitto does social-media consulting, brings his own experience at the dawn of online political fundraising to bear. He is the first to point out that this review goes wide, not deep, much like the Web itself. As he critiques the institutions’ decay and examines their future, he uses a significant amount of others’ work. The writing is unexceptional but clear. Readers will learn about the sometimes surprising origins of aspects of our technology and are guaranteed to find fascinating examples of digitally enabled endeavors. Whether or not one agrees with Mele’s conclusions, the urgent task facing our society is undeniable. This rise of the small is certainly big. --Bridget Thoreson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“Thought provoking...An important read for anyone curious about what the future might look like...the end of big is hitting many aspects of our lives. And Mele makes us seriously think about the world we live in today and, more importantly, how we'd like to live in it tomorrow.” ―Fortune

“A clear-eyed, compellingly written account bursting with vivid anecdotes and analysis.” ―Ken Auletta, The New Yorker writer and author of Greed and Glory on Wall Street, World War 3.0, and Googled

“A genuine, historic glimpse into real changes wrought by the Internet.” ―Kirkus Review

“Readers will learn about the sometimes surprising origins of aspects of our technology and are guaranteed to find fascinating examples of digitally enabled endeavors.” ―Booklist

“In The End of Big, forecaster Nicco Mele--one of the internet's early masters--looks technology squarely in the eye and asks the hard questions: Exactly how powerful is our new-found connectivity, and what's its effect on the media? On politics and government? On business? And on our culture? If you want to know what's really going on, get this book--and see the future and your options with new eyes.” ―Alex Castellanos, Political Consultant and Media Commentator

“The intense and direct way the Internet and smart mobile devices connect us and the planet challenges existing institutional arrangements everywhere we look. The End of Big presents a provocative analysis of a world on the cusp of disruptive change and asks if we have the vision and will to remake it along small-d democratic lines.” ―Mitch Kapor, founder, Lotus Development Corp.

“Is it news that we all now live in a constantly-connected brave new world? No. But what is news is that technology has become an accelerating force in its own right. Forewarned is forearmed: If you have a vested interest in any aspect of business, politics, or culture, you've got to get a copy of Nicco Mele's new book--The End of Big--so you can actively manage the changes that are about to impact you the most.” ―Joe Trippi, author of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

The End of Big covers the consequences of our constantly-connected, technology-fueled society – and nobody is better qualified to write about it than Nicco Mele. This book is an honest assessment of the most complex and fast-moving parts of our world. Nicco keeps a watchful eye on the institutions we rely upon because they're now very much up for grabs. His continued focus is on protecting human values, our social structures, and our freedoms. Get a copy of this critical new book. It will forever change your thinking about business, politics and culture.” ―Howard Dean, Six-Term Governor of VT

“Technology is redefining every aspect of existence--at work, at home, in the community, and in our private lives. Nicco Mele's The End of Big will help you chart a path forward that fits with your values, your world.” ―Stew Friedman, Practice Professor of Management, The Wharton School and author of Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life

“We can give birth to a new kind of culture with institutions to match that doesn't cower at the technological advances but embraces that technology to bring us back to our communities so we can build a better future. For anyone who has ever felt overwhelmed by technology, take hold of this book. Now.” ―Jeffrey Seglin, Harvard Kennedy School Lecturer

“If you'd like to better understand the rapid societal changes that technology has wrought, The End of Big is an indispensable guide. Nicco Mele provides an erudite yet supremely accessible look at how politics, media, business, and almost every facet of modern life has been transformed by the digital revolution--and prepares readers to make better choices and become more informed citizens.” ―Dorie Clark, author of the forthcoming Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (Harvard Business Review Press, 2013)

“In The End of Big, Nicco Mele rightly argues that a now familiar tsunami of technology is changing our world in distinctly unfamiliar ways--with accelerating velocity. He also delineates a range of choices each one of us can make to reinvent business, politics, and culture for a better tomorrow, in light of his findings and insights. Read this cutting-edge book, understand your options, and start moving forward in new directions--for yourself, for your organization, and for the good of our collective future.” ―Jeffrey F. Rayport, founder and chairman of Marketspace and author of Best Face Forward (Harvard Business Review Press, 2005)

“Radical connectivity changes EVERYTHING, says Nicco Mele, and it's hard to disagree. From how we shop to how we work to how we govern, the end of BIG means the end of top-down, centralized hierarchical control. What it will look like when we get there remains blurry, but we can be assured that it will be radically different from the past. This book is an engaging guide to the underlying forces that are eroding all that is BIG, and its many examples will pull you in to this sweeping story of change.” ―Amy C. Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management, Harvard Business School, author of Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate and Compete in the Knowledge Economy (Jossey-Bass, 2012)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (May 13, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250022231
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250022233
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed Nicco Mele's important book very much, but not because of the frequently discussed details about how the Web allows anyone to publish and be seen. No, that's obvious. Instead what I particularly liked was his deep dive into less obvious ramifications and the cautionary aspects of the erosion of power structures.

Big is the New York Times book review. The end of big is you reading my book review on the book's Amazon page. As Nicco writes: "The end of big replaces the elite, formal, highly capitalized, institutionally backed provider of goods or services with your neighbor the poet / journalist / lawyer / soldier / designer (insert craft here)."

Nicco certainly knows what he's talking about. As webmaster for Governor Howard Dean's 2004 presidential bid, Nicco and the campaign team popularized the use of technology and social media, revolutionizing political fundraising and reshaping American politics. Soon after, he co-founded EchoDitto, a web strategy firm whose clients included Barack Obama's successful Senate campaign. Nicco is now also on the faculty at the Harvard Kennedy School where he teaches graduate-level classes on the internet and politics.

While there are many exciting aspects of the end of big in every area Nicco covers, in each there are also threats. For example, in journalism, if we no longer have big news gathering organizations, who is going to fund the big investigative story? Without the Washington Post, would Woodward and Bernstein have emerged independently? Without the Watergate Scandal how would history have differed? These are questions worth asking.

What I find particularly interesting about our culture today is that big is not going away.
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Format: Hardcover
Nicco Mele adeptly points out that the collapse of large institutions (from news to government to publishing) brings with it some serious concerns about the future. This book is a greater primer for the discussion we'll be having over the next decade: now that these large institutions are gone, what responsibility to the replacements (Facebook, Google, Apple, etc.) have in filling the voids left behind? How can we keep the new institutions accountable and how can we do better than what we had before? Must read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Highly recommend Nicco Mele's new book for a smart look at the opportunities, risks and many unanswered questions about how the internet is shaping our lives in politics, society and business. He gets the full picture in a way few people do, and it's a fun read to boot.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
All treatises of sociological depth tend to have as a prime goal the ability to create what appears to be a closed system. Mele's book focuses on the advent of micro connectivity and technology as a global change factor and touches keenly on some critical points. His work, in the areas into which he delves, is thought provoking and thorough.

The missing piece, to me, is the counterweight reality of the number of VERY BIG industries that seem to have transcended the supply and demand curve. Big oil, banking, pharma, and insurance all have attained a level of success that makes them fundamentally "rule proof." An attempt to legislate banking fees results in a cadre of new fees that fall outside of legal scope. Alternative energy technologies are bought and shelved by oil companies who have no incentive to mitigate the ever rising price of fossil fuels. Pharma was left out of the affordable care act because the administration knew that engaging insurers and pharmaceuticals simultaneously would guarantee failure.

In the day to day world of the "middle class" in America (vestige that it is), Mele's assertion that big is no longer in control can be validated by everything he says. To some degree, he is only looking threw the opposite end of the binoculars, however. When looking at the standard view, at least in energy, banking and health, BIG is more in control than ever in history.
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Format: Hardcover
Nicco effectively synthesizes the changes going on in every aspect of society into a strong narrative of our times. Digital technologies, enabling "radical connectivity," are destabilizing, disrupting, or simply changing every aspect of the modern world, that is for sure.

Ultimately I really enjoyed End of Big because it challenged some of what I've been thinking, brought new ideas to my attention, and had a great tone of exploration and passion for the subject. I sometimes wished for a more academic exploration (grad school rears its ugly head), but that would have been a different book for a different audience.

I think I'm more of an optimistic view toward these changes than Nicco is, primarily because of how flawed the Big organizations have become. When an organization grows truly Big at the expense of public good, and simultaneously ignores social changes around it, I have little sympathy. His prescriptions for change in the last chapter do offer some hope and optimism. Still, he makes excellent points regarding how radical connectivity could additionally disrupt some of the things we (I, at least) most value, such as investigative journalism and corporate regulation.

This would really be a great book club book, as surely will start some interesting and instructive conversations about what our society should be. More than that, it will hopefully start actions to make it so.
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