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Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Google and Deification

Interesting post from Eamonn on Google and the potential of the internet. I haven't read the Burman book, but from Eamonn's description he possibly even undeplays the importance it has. I would say that the comparisons with the car and electric light miss the central point: the internet needs to be understood as the latest in a line of communications revolutions: speech, writing, printing etc. It changes the way we organise our thinking and it changes the way we think. (I must write a more extensive post on this some day, communication, technology and thought was in fact the area of my doctoral research!!). In this sense it is the latest in a line of 'disruptive' technologies, and here Burman is surely right: it has had such an impact that we are still unable to see where we are going with it. Incidentally, those of us who were able to idle away part of our youth reading too much Sartre will already know: the idea of an omnipotent and omniscient deity is a contradiction in terms. You can get to be all-knowing, or you can get to be all-powerful, but you can never be both. Bad luck Google. And meanwhile, just as a counterbalance to my brother's excessive cynicism in the last post:

When commenting here Sunday on Thomas Friedman's "Is Google God?" think-piece in the New York Times, I overlooked this highly significant quote by Google CEO Eric Schmidt: "The rate of the adoption of the Internet in all its forms is increasing, not decreasing. The fact that many [Internet companies] are in a terrible state does not correlate with users not using their products."

This disconnect between the (mis)fortunes of the dot coms and the growing societal role of the net is a phenomenon that's been exercising a number of minds of late. One person who had devoted considerable time to the issue is Edward Burman, a truly remarkable Englishman. After living and working in Iran for five years, he moved to Italy, where he has spent 20 years. He is now a Senior Partner of Ambrosetti, a leading Italian consulting company, and is responsible for its services in China. THAT SHOULD be enough to keep most people occupied, but Edward Burman is a man of many talents and enormous energy. Along with his "day job" at Ambrosetti, he teaches in the Faculty of Economics at the University of Bologna and has managed to write eleven (!) books on European historical and cultural issues. Last year he brought two works to the printing presses: a study of the impact of the net on regional growth and productivity in Tuscany and, the object of this posting, a book that appeared in Italian as Internet nuovo Leviatano: verso un nuovo paradigma di pensiero e di business and libri, and in English as
Shift: The Unfolding Internet, Hype, Hope and History .
Source: Eamonn's Rainy Day

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