Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Is the IT Age a Mimic of the Industrial Revolution?

Many similarities seem to reprise the personas and stages of evolution of the Industrial Revolution – the parallels between Personalities, Society & Economics, that I’ve found make me think, is History Repeating itself?


Henry Ford, the master of mass production, the creator of the first affordable motorcar and profitable assembly line, has been famously quoted - “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black”. In addition, Ford did not believe in accountants; he amassed one of the world's largest fortunes without ever having his company audited under his administration.

A similar feeling of personal greatness and Ego can be seen in Steve Jobs, who single handedly changed the music and telecom space. For instance, Fortune magazine famously wrote that he "is considered one of Silicon Valley's leading egomaniacs."

Moreover, Jobs rises to the occasion by saying things like, “There's an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. ‘ I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.' And we've always tried to do that at Apple. Since the very very beginning. And we always will."

Both Ford & Jobs had Vision and a sort of egoistic pompousness, which drove them to go against the grain, and revolutionize the world.

That been said, Ford is no longer the leader of the pack… either in its own country of origin or worldwide…. And probably Apple will suffer a similar fate, with its “walled garden” philosophy in the Open Source World.


There is a small, secret community, the stratospheric society of the “Über Riche”, that meets in cyberspace… Luxury brands, like Mont Blanc, advertise their limited collectors’ editions on this network. The network is so exclusive, it is almost impossible to enter… people desperate to get into this cloistered club write tomes in their blogs, post their request on various forums and their status messages. There are barely a handful of people from India on the website (Coincidentally, currently I am not one of them).

The Free Masons were formed as a group of Expert Builders, who knew the secrets of architecture, such as how to place the Keystone of an Arch. The group or guild, kept its architectural knowledge a closely guarded secret and formed a secret society to keep it so and gained tremendous power and profits by this.

As their influence grew, so did their ranks, and started to include, experts from all fields (read any Dan Brown novel to know more about such secret societies)… and reached it’s peak in during the industrial revolution with memberships ranging across –
Gustave Eiffel, Designer and architect of the Eiffel Tower,
German philosopher and Poet - Goethe,
The famous musician Louis Armstrong,
Astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin,
Aviator Charles Lindbergh,
Doctors including Alexander Fleming a developer of penicillin, Dr. Edward Jenner who developed the small pox vaccine,
Politicians such as George Washington, Winston Churchill, Silvio Berlusconi
and even Hindu Spiritual Leader Swami Vivekananda,  
all pledging allegiances to this secret, invitation only society.

Are we seeing the growth of a similar society online at ASW?


The similarities of the economic distresses faced during the Great Depression of 1930-40s and the current 2008 Recession are remarkably similar – Job Cuts, Layoffs, Downsizing, Bankruptcy Cost Cutting, shifts in society & social paradigms (it’s ok now to have been laid-off) …. Are these some of the parallels that can be correlated?

So is history repeating itself… has not the world learnt from the past?

Are we destined to continue this never-ending cycle?

What do YOU think?


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