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Telecosm: How Infinite Bandwidth Will Revolutionize Our World

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2002

    A fairly complicated exploration

    Although not overly technical, ¿Telecosm: How Infinite Bandwidth with Revolutionize the World¿ by George Gilder is still a fairly complicated exploration into the way exploding bandwidth affects the way we live. Gilder contends that we are now in the ¿age of the telecosm,¿ which he defines as the world ¿enabled and defined by new communication technology,¿ and he points out that bandwidth has replaced computer power as the driving force for technological advancements. Gilder discusses the promise of fiber in replacing ¿switches and air and microwaves and computer displays and geo-synchronous satellites¿ instead of simply being a retrofit for copper wire. But, he reminds the reader of the speed limit of light and that abundant bandwidth does not accelerate the time the first bit in a given message can travel. At the end of the book, Gilder translates his thoughts into 20 ¿Laws of the Telecosm,¿ some of which were intriguing and others common sense. He also offers a telecom glossary, which he describes as ¿An Opinionated Lexicon.¿ His metaphors helped me (a non-techie) to visualize and understand telecom technologies. For example, he described TDMA as being like each person at a cocktail party who restricts his/her talk to a specific time slot while everyone else is silent. In contrast, CDMA would allow everyone to talk at once but in different languages. Everyone would listen for messages in their own language and ignore all other sounds as background noise. Gilder makes suggestions about investment opportunities. However, his advice wasn¿t always accurate. He speaks highly of Global Crossing, which is now beset by challenges. This book presents the science, history, business stories, investment advice, and predictions for the future of telecommunications networking. An interesting perspective if you can tolerate the complexity or don¿t mind wading through the detail.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 30, 2001

    Substance OK, style impenetrable

    Reasonably enjoyable if you can get around the awful way way it is written. Gilder appears perpetually out of breath, and while I'm all for enthusiasm about your subject, you should never let it become an impediment to understanding. Why for example, does Gilder eat not merely Sushi, but 'Sushi and Wasabi' if you please - and twice in one paragraph at that? Is it to sound grandiose? Still, the book has its points. I enjoyed learning about how existing technologies were developed, and by whom. When he drops his attempts to be poetic, he tells a pretty good story. He should have someone edit his next effort.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2000

    Fascinating look at revolutionary changes

    George Gilder¿s new book Telecosm will become ¿must reading¿ for everyone who wants to know what comes after the computer-internet revolution. While the essence of Gilder¿s argument is easy, the details are complex and sometimes daunting. Essentially Gilder argues that the ability to send messages is about to explode in capability and crash in price. The result, he argues, will be a revolution in the volume of information we can rely on and the cost of getting it. Most Americans at home use a 56k (56,000 bits of information per second) or slower modem to connect them to the Internet. At work they are lucky if they have a T1 system with about 1.2 million bits per second. Gilder wants us to prepare for a world in which you will have a billion or more bits per second available to you which may be available on a portable wireless system you can carry around with you. In general I agree with Telecosm¿s assessment of the coming large-scale change. As I have argued in ¿the Age of Transitions¿, we are entering a period of such dramatic change that the amount of change we saw in the entire twentieth century will almost certainly be matched by the changes of the next 25 years. This rate of change guarantees that the world will not stabilize in our lifetime, and we will therefore be engaged in a series of transitions in which we learn one new thing in order to move on and learn another new thing.Gilder focuses on changes in one crucial area, and in his general orientation he is almost certainly right. Gilder offers a series of arguments for the practicality and reasonableness of his projections. He carries you through a history of the laser, fiber optics, the use of frequency modulation, the opportunities inherent in low orbit satellites and wireless. Anyone interested in how science becomes engineering and engineering becomes entrepreneurship will find much of this book fascinating and useful. Given Gilder¿s earlier prescience in Microcosm (a study of the silicon chip and the computer revolution) his credibility forces you to automatically take Gilder seriously. One of the implications of this forecast is a radical redistribution of cost structures. In the current world of limited bandwidth, and therefore limited information transfer, it makes a lot of sense to put money into sophisticated processing which enables us to compress data and maximize the current bandwidth. The result is a system in which the embedded communications base has enormous investments in sophisticated message carrying and translating equipment. In Gilder¿s analysis the future will belong to relatively simply fiber optic systems with very limited investments in processing the communications and the intelligence will drift to the periphery. You will be able to send so much data so inexpensively that the emphasis will rest with increasing the capabilities of individual users¿ computers to deal with the flood of information rather than investing in the communications network. Gilder believes the traditional telephone companies are trapped into a system of stunningly complex investments that will become obsolete as the fiber optic world evolves. Gilder further believes this new revolution will use frequency modulation to create enormous information carrying capability for local wireless systems. A fiber optic cable will carry giga (billions), terra (trillions) and peta (add three more zeros) bits of information, and will broadcast them locally so they will literally leap over the twisted copper which today keeps all of us moving at a snail¿s pace in our local network. The result will be more information in a home than currently exists in the fastest supercomputer. It will be a world in which expert systems explode with capability and work, shopping, health, politics and entertainment are explosively liberated from geographic constraints. Gilder believes the initial low-orbit-satellite telephone systems were misdesigned, and that the

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