In a thoughtful essay, the chairman emeritus of Citibank offers shrewd observations of how the information revolution has affected the U.S. economy, manufacturing, international trade, corporate management styles and the global financial system. Wriston identifies the ``new electronic superhighway'' comprised of satellite and broadcast technologies and computers as a driving force behind an integrated world economy. He underscores the importance of intellectual capital, which, he claims, is often overlooked by managers and economists. However, his McLuhanesque central thesis paints a rosy picture unsupported by the evidence. The information age, he argues, is empowering ordinary citizens, driving nations toward cooperation with one another and diminishing the power of governments and corporations even as the ``global conversation'' advances civil and democratic rights. Wriston overstates his case, calling the fax machine ``the pamphleteer of the late twentieth century.'' (Sept.)
Wriston, chairman emeritus of Citibank and the author of Risk and Other Four-Letter Words ( LJ 3/1/86. o.p.), provides convincing evidence of a threat to national sovereignty resulting from rapid advances in information technology. He describes the marriage of computing and telecommunications as having created an electronic network that unifies the world into one global market of ideas, data, and capital, all capable of moving with lightning speed to any part of the planet. This influence of technology on international financial markets has outpaced the ability of governments to control national economies and old political borders. Such a global market threatens the very concept of sovereign nations. Wriston warns that leaders must face squarely the magnitude of technological change or risk falling into oblivion. A provocative work for informed lay readers.-- Joe Accardi, Northeastern Illinois Univ. Lib., Chicago
Long the supreme arbiter of war, commerce, and law, the nation-state is losing its grip in a world of satellite communications and computerized industry. Chairman emeritus of Citibank, Wriston describes a technological revolution in global dissemination of information. As this revolution transforms markets and politics, it opens new holes in national boundaries, and so, weakens the power of government leaders to enforce policies predicated on national interests. Brokers close deals with customers a continent away, while high-tech spies steal from an enemy's data bank without ever crossing a physical boundary. Governments cannot control--nor even accurately measure--the transactions effected through modern technology. Even within corporations, executives find their authority challenged by subordinates with access to the same microchips. Wars cannot long continue, Wriston reasons, once global communication has dissolved traditional structures of sovereignty and command. The tough-minded may scoff at the prediction of a pacific age, while scholars will criticize the scanty documentation. But a book this provocative and clearly written will attract many readers.