Big is powerful, or so it’s generally assumed. But in today’s social media-centric world, small is big again, as everything from pint-sized companies to tiny political parties are quickly becoming just as powerful.
In The End of Big: How the Internet makes David the new Goliath, social media guru Nicco Mele offers a thought-provoking look at the ways new technologies, which comprise what he calls “radical connectivity,” are shrinking, and therefore altering, who controls all aspects of everyday life — from who governs us to who sells us goods and services to who delivers our news and educates our children.
As Mele acknowledges, the book goes wide rather than deep. He starts off describing the birth of the internet within the U.S. military, then chronicles its evolution from something used to communicate research at U.S. universities to what it has become today — a technological force with the incredible ability to decentralize the powers of today’s biggest institutions. It’s an important read for anyone curious about what the future might look like. While new technology has given the once overlooked little guys more power, Mele cautions that it comes with unintended consequences. For instance, staying connected has given fringe political forces — varying from the Tea Party to terrorist groups — tremendous potential to enter the mainstream and undermine central power.
Mele is an expert in political campaigns — he worked as the webmaster for Howard Dean’s run for U.S. president in 2002 and later went on to work for Barack Obama’s 2004 U.S. Senate campaign under his company, EchoDitto. He argues that new technology has disrupted America’s two-party system, giving rise to a new kind of democracy that could either produce effective leaders or what he calls “scary candidates,” such as Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.