The Little Guy of the Future

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Glenn Reynolds' "An Army of Davids" (Nelson Current) is about the "little guy." More specifically, it's about how advances in technology "empower ordinary people to beat big media, big government and other goliaths." If you're reading this, chances are that you fit into one of those goliath categories.

In Mr. Reynolds' book the little guy can be anyone from a blogger to an East European revolutionary to a Web-surfing al-Qaida fighter. But the little guy in many of Reynolds' scenarios bears a strong resemblance to the American consumer. Which is as good a reason as any to read this book.

There are some serious changes heading your way. Forget the talk about "consumer control"-that's limited mostly to media-consumption patterns. Mr. Reynolds, a law professor at University of Tennessee and one of the major bloggers (as Instapundit), is looking beyond that. Podcasts and blogs (which get plenty of play here) are the least of your worries. Consider marketing to a populace that-thanks to advances in nanotechnology, medicine and any number of other fields-lives to 250 and can manufacture many of the necessities at home.

A number of reviewers have called Mr. Reynolds "Pollyanna-ish" for his gung-ho enthusiasm about technology, and even the forward-thinking reader might experience an "aw, come on" moment or two while reading "An Army of Davids." But Mr. Reynolds offers a thought experiment. "Imagine that it's 1993. ... And imagine that you ... were asked to explain to people what they could expect by, say, the summer of 2003. Universal access to practically all information. From all over the place-even in bars. And all for free."

Remember 1993? When the Web was a curiosity and you still relied on the fax machine?

The lesson here isn't simply that technology can advance a lot in 10 years, it's that these amazing advances occurred without a central planning committee of any sort (and happened so quickly precisely because of the absence of such a beast). And Mr. Reynolds doesn't see those 250-year-old consumers driving rocket cars in the distant future. "I'm going to make a very conservative prediction," he writes. "The next 10 years will see revolutions that make Wi-Fi and Google look tame, and that in short order we'll take those for granted, too."
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