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BW Businessworld

Book Review: Need For Speed

The author uses simple language to carefully weave fragments of history, copious research studies and personal anecdotes into a narrative that touches upon every sphere of our lives that this acceleration has seeped into

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In a world where technology beats you to the end of your sentence and chooses who you date, there is never a shortage of cynics waiting to label the next new technology as the cause for the deterioration of the human race. Sidestepping the usual stance of our well-meaning cynics, author of The Great Acceleration: How the World is Getting Faster, Faster, Robert Colvile opines that we aren’t mere slaves to technology; we are capable of turning this technology to our advantage.

London-based Colvile is the news director at BuzzFeed UK and he has earlier worked as a columnist with The Telegraph. Colvile’s book is a well-researched exposition on how society is changing, not to make the world prosperous or equal, but to make life faster. Be it making a new friend online or the spiraling growth of a company, we are always too quick to resonate with the hurried pace of others and do one better. And this is what Colvile terms as “the great acceleration”.

The author uses simple language to carefully weave fragments of history, copious research studies and personal anecdotes into a narrative that touches upon every sphere of our lives that this acceleration has seeped into. Colvile cruises through the developments in media and news, politics, match-making and others, almost mechanically yet engagingly. He uses instances of how Google, Amazon and Netflix have decreased the time taken to deliver their products and services, which suggest that while their businesses have expanded in terms of quantity, advancements in terms of swift deliveries is what has made them common household terms.

Colvile doesn’t fail to acknowledge that while this acceleration has speeded up all the little processes of our lives, the effects of this on our mental and physical processes could be grave. For example, Colvile writes how short-term focus of leaders could affect their decision-making ability.

However, the author simply brushes off these concerns as being problematic only when we are unable to strategically cope with the rapid change.

The Great Acceleration is an enlightening read of the implications of an accelerated life on our individual and collective lives. Be it a 17-year-old snapchatting teenager or a 60-year-old mattress magnate, this is one book that will implore you to consider the ramifications of the next piece of technology you encounter, not simply in terms of the lurking dangers of it but also the magnificent acceleration it will bring to the world.

Those who hold senior executive positions in an organisation, board members, leaders, and also management students who are just out of campus could benefit from Colvile’s perspective of the ever changing world around us.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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books book review bloomsbury magazine 19 september 2016

Shankar Ram

Ram is Joint MD, Peps India

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