Kevin Kelly, author of the acclaimed Out of Control (called required reading for all executives by Fortune) is editor-at-large of Wired magazine. He has been involved in such cultural innovations as The Hacker's Conference and The Well. He lives in the Bay Area.
The executive editor for Wired proposes ten new rules for getting by in business these days, e.g., "Embrace the Swarm: The Power of Decentralization."
The "new economy," posits Wired executive editor Kelly in his smart but confusing book, "has three distinguishing characteristics: It is global. It favors intangible thingsÄideas, information, and relationships. And it is intensely interlinked." Kelly uses this system of fluid networks to replace traditional linear models of business interrelationships. In one "rule," Kelly unexpectedly suggests that a company's goods become more valuable as their price moves closer "to free"; in another he urges companies to abandon the pursuit of proven successes. If these claims at first appear dubious, closer examination shows that they're not without credibility. In a network economy, he argues, selling technologies cheaply increases supply and spurs demand for valuable services that use these technologies. Relying on proven successes, Kelly says, discourages companies from developing new technologiesÄthe linchpin of a rapidly changing network economy. Unfortunately, Kelly builds his case in a haphazard, often overheated way, complete with empty jargon like "re-intermediation." Even when offering the more concrete observation that a network economy means that customersÄnot vendorsÄoften drive transactions, Kelly can't resist straying into a discussion of privacy on the Net. Perhaps the author intended his jumble to serve as a metaphor for the often overwhelming interconnectivity he describes, but readers will have a hard time working through the muddle and hype. B&w illustrations throughout. Author tour. (Oct.) FYI: Cornell/ILR's book of the same title on the changing demcgraphics of the American workforce was reviewed in the August 10 issue.