The Great Acceleration: How the World is Getting Faster, Faster

January 3, 2016
author |
Robert Colvile
year published |

Instant messaging. Superfast broadband. High-frequency trading. The world is, undeniably, accelerating. Great acceleration of change is evident in all spheres of modern life.

In this revelatory study, Robert Colvile examines how and why this is happening, why it’s unlikely we’ll be able to slow down – and why this may be no bad thing. It’s a book peppered with slogans from this new world’s heavy hitters: Ried Hoffman, the inventor of LinkedIn: ‘If you’re not embarrassed by your first version, you waited too long to ship it’; ‘Carry on failing until you succeed’; Jeff Bezos, ‘Amazon isn’t happening to the book business, the future is happening to the book business’; ‘You jump off a cliff and you assemble an aeroplane on the way down’ is from Mark Zuckerberg; ‘Move fast and break things’ is another of his.

This is a book that zips along itself but whose words will make you slow down and think. Comparing the development of cities and villages, advanced economies and underdeveloped countries, Colvile explores the opportunities that this faster communication and operation could bring and how we must adapt ourselves to cope with the constant need to disrupt and fracture ourselves to survive. The Great Acceleration is a vertiginous read, incredibly fast itself, and incredibly smart.