|This article does not cite any references or sources. (February 2012)|
In the 2001 book Next: The Future Just Happened author Michael Lewis argues that rapidly evolving technology will upend the power structure of society. It gives power to the youngster who doesn't have preconceptions and entrenched interests. By making information readily available, the internet erodes the power and mystique of many professions.
Lewis provides examples including:
- At the age of twelve, Jonathan Lebed began trading stocks. When he and three buddies did well in a stock-picking contest, people began coming to him for advice. By the age of fourteen, he learned that by posting messages in chat rooms, he could affect stock prices. This illustrates how internet chat rooms shifted power from seasoned professionals to a fourteen-year-old.
- In the next chapter, the legal profession suffers a blow to its pride at the hands of fifteen-year-old Marcus Arnold, who became a top-ranked respondent to legal questions on AskMe.com.
- The band Marillion could not get funds for a promotional tour from their record company so they turned to the internet. By connecting directly with their fans through their fan website, they were able to raise money for the tour, then to produce new CDs and to sell merchandise. They are no longer dependent on the normal intermediaries.
- TiVo and Replay allow people to watch TV shows when they want and to skip the advertisements. This changes the relationship between the broadcasters and the viewers. It continues the fracturing of the market observed by Alvin Toffler in The Third Wave (1980) and many others. The TiVo and Replay black boxes also transmit information back to the companies. The information on consumer preferences and behavior is valuable to advertisers because they can use it to try to target their ads to the people most likely to buy the product. This further segments the markets. Consumers gain convenience at the cost of privacy.
Lewis argues that elites are under attack. The internet makes information readily available to everyone. If nothing is hidden or arcane, the need for professionals is threatened. In a world of accelerating change, “the state of mind demanded by [such] a world… is alien to anyone over forty.”
- The Future Just Happened BBC TV, TV series