The section here on the election of Rutherford B. Hayes as president with significant help by the communication incumbent (Western Union) of the time sounds eerily like the influence which Facebook likely had on the election of Donald J. Trump. The more I read this the more I’m scared and can’t wait for yet another disruption of communication technology.
History shows a typical progression of information technologies: from somebody's hobby to somebody's industry; from jury-rigged contraption to slick production marvel; from a freely accessible channel to one strictly controlled by a single corporation or cartel--from open to closed system. It is a progression so common as to seem inevitable, though it would hardly have seemed so at the dawn of any of the past century's transformative technologies, whether telephony, radio, television, or film. History also shows that whatever has been closed for too long is ripe for ingenuity's assault: in time a closed industry can be opened anew, giving way to all sorts of technical possibilities and expressive uses for the medium before the effort to close the system likewise begins again.
So you think that you control what you read, watch, and listen to? Better take a closer look…
Many will know and understand the outline of the argument here, but it’s important to read the details of the case studies so we can help break “The Cycle”, an aptly named problem.
In some sense, this is a microcosm of governments over the past 12,000+ years when looked at from a Big History perspective.