cover image The End Of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath

The End Of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath

Nicco Mele. St. Martin’s, $25.99 (308p) ISBN 978-1-250-02185-4

Mele overstates the obvious in yet another dire warning about the promises and perils of technology, in this case the Internet, and the siren’s lure of the radical connectivity it fosters. The promise of such connectivity to democratize the world and create community arises, he observes, precisely because our institutions—government, media, military, entertainment—have failed us in significant ways. For example, in an era of radical connectivity, when anyone with a blog can act as a journalist reporting the news, will such a blog be able to ask tough questions and hold politicians and corporations accountable? Can a blogger who offers simple reports, without taking a position on the news everyone wants to read, replace the investigative reporting of a major media source? Can radical connectivity create new political institutions that act as the major political parties did before money took hold, and encourage action for the public good? Mele concludes with the old adage that it’s not the technology but the people behind it that can foster either its beneficent or malign use. He proposes several ways that we can inhabit this new world, including a “focus on making institutions more amenable and responsive to individuals” and a “demand for serious, thoughtful, informed leadership.” We must also, he declares, “strengthen and reimagine local community.” With lackluster prose and sweeping generalizations, though, Mele’s tiresome rehearsal of long-familiar questions fails to join or advance the conversation about these matters. Lorin Rees, Rees Literary Agency. (May)