The Death of Distance: How the Communications Revolution Will Change Our Lives

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The Death of Distance: How the Communications Revolution Will Change Our Lives

By Frances Cairncross
Harvard Business School Press, 1997
294 pp. $24.95
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The cheery optimism of the "digerati" pervades this book, culminating in the happy assertion, "Humanity may find that peace and prosperity are born from the death of distance." It is an article of faith with the author that the communications revolution will have overwhelming and generally benign effects on how businesses function, governments rule, and individuals live their lives. Firms will respond more quickly to market cues, citizens will understand governments better, children will know more about foreign lands. Philosophers and anthropologists may wince in disgust, but it is a faith common among the cyber-elite. The book is a competent survey of the modern communications revolution, elementary in some parts and confidently speculative in others. The author's useful list of assertions, ranging from the banal to the improbable, taken together form a checklist of conventional prognostications. One finishes the book wondering, however, whether human nature may not prove less tractable and predictable than soothsayers of the information revolution believe.