Just as the industrial revolution ushered in the modern economic age, so now the information revolution is transforming national markets into a single global economy. But while this seismic shift in the balance of power has been accepted as fact by pundits worldwide, few have examined its ramifications in any detail, or even comprehended it completely.
From the corporate boardroom to Tiananmen Square, from the shop floor to the White House Situation Room, Walter Wriston draws upon his book, The Twilight of Sovereignty: How the Information Revolution Is Transforming Our World, to detail how the new technologies are linking people around the world, changing them and their world irrevocably. He examines the information revolutions impact on politics, world business, warfare, and even espionage.
Wriston focuses on how the information revolution has eroded the control of government leaders and bureaucracies, particularly those of totalitarian regimes. The ability of governments to control currency value has declined, replacing old standards with the new discipline of the Information Standard, more swift and draconian than the old, while the increasing international production of goods is making the concepts of imports, exports, and trade balances outmoded. And with satellite technology creating a single, global news beat, the Orwellian threat of an all-powerful state watching our every move has been reversed.
In his talk, he describes how the structure of the business firm is changing as well. Middle management, which in the past has served mainly to move information up and down the corporate pyramid, is rapidly becoming obsolete, as that very pyramid flattens out.
Although much has been written about the decline of American competitiveness, indicates Wriston, in many ways this new global market plays to our strengths. The constant in the global marketplace is change, and change is what we Americans deal with best.