The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads | Capitalism without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy | A History of News | The Attention Merchants | Hustle | Bold | Consent of the Networked
As Wuâs sweeping history shows, each of the new media of the twentieth centuryâradio, telephone, television, and filmâwas born free and open. Each invited unrestricted use and enterprising experiment until some would-be mogul battled his way to total domination. Here are stories of an uncommon will to power, the power over information: Adolph Zukor, who took a technology once used as commonly as YouTube is today and made it the exclusive prerogative of a kingdom called Hollywood . . . NBCâs founder, David Sarnoff, who, to save his broadcast empire from disruptive visionaries, bullied one inventor (of electronic television) into alcoholic despair and another (this one of FM radio, and his boyhood friend) into suicide . . . And foremost, Theodore Vail, founder of the Bell System, the greatest information empire of all time, and a capitalist whose faith in Soviet-style central planning set the course of every information industry thereafter.
Explaining how invention begets industry and industry begets empireâa progress often blessed by government, typically with stifling consequences for free expression and technical innovation alikeâWu identifies a time-honored pattern in the maneuvers of todayâs great information powers: Apple, Google, and an eerily resurgent AT&T. A battle royal looms for the Internetâs future, and with almost every aspect of our lives now dependent on that network, this is one war we dare not tune out.
Part industrial exposÃ©, part meditation on what freedom requires in the information age, The Master Switch is a stirring illumination of a drama that has played out over decades in the shadows of our national life and now culminates with terrifying implications for our future.
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