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Ruling the Waves: From the Compass to the Internet, a History of Business and Politics along the Technological Frontier

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  42 ratings  ·  3 reviews
Beginning with the development of the compass, Ruling the Waves examines a series of technological revolutions that promised, in their time, to transform the world's politics and business. With Debora Spar's gifted storytelling, each chapter reads like an adventure tale as she recounts the histories of the printing press and maps; of the telegraph, radio, and satellite tel ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published January 7th 2003 by Mariner Books (first published September 21st 2001)
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Steve Barrera
May 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This remarkable and insightful book identifies a pattern in the development of technology: it comes in waves, starting with a period of invention, then a chaotic, free market phase of entrepreneurship, and finally a rule making phase in which the dominant players emerge and the technology because fixed and commonplace -and usually monopolized. The author, a political scientist and business professor, takes us on a tour de force of how these waves progressed for certain technologies, such as the ...more
Tim Martin
_Ruling the Waves_ by Debora L. Spar is a fascinating book on the history of business and politics in the fields of emerging technologies, one I honestly feel everyone should read, as it is invaluable for the sense of context and perspective it provides.

Much has been made about how truly revolutionary the internet is, how that its very existence breaks all the old rules, that it is going to steer the world towards a new social order, perhaps even sever the link between the market and the state.
...more
Tommy Powell
Spar does a wonderful, and concise, job of detailing the cyclical nature of innovative industries.
1. Early entrants build demand
2. More entrants bring chaos in the market (think railroads)
3. A few big players turn to government in the hopes of squashing the competition.
4. The market winners start complaining about government regulation.

Good book.
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