Next, by Michael Lewis, is probably my least favorite book my him. Regardless, I'm convinced that he's in his own league, so Next is still an excellent book.
In the long run the internet will become invisible and ubiquitous, and no one will spend a minute thinking about its social effects any more than they now think about the social effects of electricity.
If the internet was giving the world a shove in a certain direction, it was probably because the world already felt inclined to move in that direction.
He had glimpsed the essential truth of the market: that even people who called themselves professionals were often incapable of independent thought, and that most people, though obsessed with money, had little ability to make decisions about it.
The system was rigged, the internet had exposed the rigging, which meant that the system couldn't survive for long--at least, not in it's present form.
Financial professionals had entered some weird new head space. They simply took it for granted that a financial market was a collection of people doing their best to get on to CNBC, and CNN-FN...where they could advance their narrow self interests. To anyone who wandered into the money culture after, say, January of 1996, it would have seemed absurd to take anything said by putative financial experts at face value.
That's the trouble with 14 year old boys from the point of view of the social order: they haven't yet learned the more sophisticated forms of dishonesty.
...but they knew that once the software was deployed, companies that flattened their organization charts to encourage knowledge to flow freely in every direction would beat companies that didn't.
...he had refused to accept his assigned status. When the real world failed to diagnose his talents, he went looking for a second opinion. The internet offered him as many opinions as he needed to find one that he liked.
Once the law became a business, it was on it's way to becoming a commodity. Reduce the law to the sum of it's information and, by implication, anyone can supply it.
He didn't mind the idea of paying artists for their work, he simply couldn't understand why he needed to pay a record company, or a publisher, or a software company in the bargain. He imagined that one day the middle men would vanish, and the creators of intellectual property would be paid like waiters, with tips directly from happy customers.
And, in the end, those people gave birth to the ideas that in turn gave birth to fantastic wealth. The only thing capitalism cannot survive is stability, and stability--true stability--is the absence of progress, and a dearth of new wealth.
Capital is a useful guide to the social observer. The sheer consistency of its behavior--it never does anything but seek the highest return--means that its movement inadvertently tells you a lot about the world. If capital is moving in some new direction, it is because financial incentives, not capital, have changed.
The smartest capitalists were no longer the ones who did the big deals with established companies and investors on wall street. The smartest capitalists were the ones who did the little deals with the companies that threatened the established companies.
In a few short years [technology] pretty much gutted the principles of corporate socialism: jobs for life, employee and customer loyalty, all for one and one for all, and replaced them with something more raw. It did this in the name of efficiency.
What the American consumer wanted, the American consumer eventually got. And if you failed to give it to him right away you risked losing his patronage to someone who would.
A Lord was a Lord because his father was a Lord. If a Lord is a Lord no more but in name, it is because the past has been neutered.
The middle aged technologist knows that somewhere out there, some kid in his bedroom is dreaming up something that will make him obsolete, and when the dream comes true, he'll be dead wood--one of those people that needs to be told to get out of the way.
Nick Fisher is a software engineer in the Pacific Northwest. He focuses on building highly scalable and maintainable backend systems.