TELECOSM: How Infinite Bandwidth will Revolutionize Our World

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9780684809304: TELECOSM: How Infinite Bandwidth will Revolutionize Our World

The computer age is over. After a cataclysmic global run of thirty years, it has given birth to the age of the telecosm -- the world enabled and defined by new communications technology. Chips and software will continue to make great contributions to our lives, but the action is elsewhere. To seek the key to great wealth and to understand the bewildering ways that high tech is restructuring our lives, look not to chip speed but to communication power, or bandwidth. Bandwidth is exploding, and its abundance is the most important social and economic fact of our time. George Gilder is one of the great technological visionaries, and the man who put the 's' in 'telecosm' (Telephony magazine). He is equally famous for understanding and predicting the nuts and bolts of complex technologies, and for putting it all together in a soaring view of why things change, and what it means for our daily lives. His track record of futurist predictions is one of the best, often proving to be right even when initially opposed by mighty corporations and governments. He foresaw the power of fiber and wireless optics, the decline of the telephone regime, and the explosion of handheld computers, among many trends. His list of favored companies outpaced even the soaring Nasdaq in 1999 by more than double. His long-awaited Telecosm is a bible of the new age of communications. Equal parts science story, business history, social analysis, and prediction, it is the one book you need to make sense of the titanic changes underway in our lives. Whether you surf the net constantly or not at all, whether you live on your cell phone or hate it for its invasion of private life, you need this book. Ithas been less than two decades since the introduction of the IBM personal computer, and yet the enormous changes wrought in our lives by the computer will pale beside the changes of the telecosm. Gilder explains why computers will empty out, with their components migrating to the net; why hundreds of low-flying satellites will enable hand-held computers and communicators to become ubiquitous; why television will die; why newspapers and magazines will revive; why advertising will become less obnoxious; and why companies will never be able to waste your time again. Along the way you will meet the movers and shakers who have made the telecosm possible. From Charles Townes and Gordon Gould, who invented the laser, to the story of JDS Uniphase, the Intel of the Telecosm, to the birthing of fiberless optics pioneer TeraBeam, here are the inventors and entrepreneurs who will be hailed as the next Edison or Gates. From hardware to software to chips to storage, here are the technologies that will soon be as basic as the air we breathe.

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Review :

And he said, "Let the computer age be over."
And so it was.

George Gilder, the tech-friendly author of the well-received chip treatise, The Meaning of the Microcosm, and publisher of the Gilder Technology Report, has brought forth Telecosm: How Infinite Bandwidth Will Revolutionize Our World, another work of technical prose that's sure to appeal to both techheads and nontechnical folks alike.

Telecosm predicts a revolutionary new era of unlimited bandwidth: it describes how the "age of the microchip"--dubbed the "microcosm"--is ending and leaving in its wake a new era--the "telecosm," or "the world enabled and defined by new communications technology."

Speaking like a prophet of the bandwidth deity, Brother Gilder lays down the telecosmic commandments--the Law of the Telecosm, Gilder's Law, the Black Box Law, and so on. He describes the gaggle of industry players--from cable and satellite to telephone and computer--who populate the telecosm arena.

Books about telecommunications rarely are quotable, but Telecosm at times is a brilliant example of magical and (believe it or not) mystical prose. Gilder's philo-techno perspective makes for interesting and thought-provoking musings: "Wrought of sand, oxygen, and aluminum, the three most common substances in the Earth's crust, the microprocessor distills ideas as complex as a street map of America onto a sliver of silicon the size of a thumbnail. This gift of the quantum is a miracle of compression." And, finally, he describes precisely what the telecosm will create among its congregation: "The gift of the telecosm is a miracle of expansion: grains of sand spun into crystalline fibers and woven into worldwide webs."

What happens when we become blessed with the miracle of infinite bandwidth? Gilder writes, "You can replace the seven-layer smart network with a much faster, dumber, unlayered one. Let all messages careen around on their own. Let the end-user machines take responsibility for them. Amid the oceans of abundant bandwidth, anyone who wants to drink just needs to invent the right kind of cup." And what of unlimited bandwidth? No mere contradiction in terms, unlimited bandwidth is what we strive for--"we" meaning those of us who suffer bravely through the contradictions of Moore's Law and Metcalfe's Law, as we increase our RAM and decrease our Net access time.

While it seems too simple to describe Telecosm as a telescopically written book of cosmic proportions, it is that and more. Gilder's political rants and raves for infinite bandwidth boldly foretell the age of the telecosm and its dramatic impact on all of us--of our metamorphosis from users who found ourselves bound by the limits of our networks to "bandwidth angels" who compute in the "Promethean light." --E. Brooke Gilbert

About the Author :

George Gilder publishes the Gilder Technology Report, a monthly newsletter, and is a Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, where he directs the program on high technology and public policy. He is a founder and contributor to ForbesASAP, a contributing editor of Forbes magazine, and a frequent writer for The Economist, Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. His previous books include Microcosm and Wealth and Poverty. He lives in Tyringham, Massachusetts.

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