Andrew Keen: In this age of the unthinkable, we must act like revolutionaries

What's the connection between Michael Moritz, Silicon Valley's leading venture capitalist, and Hizbollah, the Middle East's leading terrorist organisation?

According to Joshua Cooper Ramos, the author of the stimulating The Age of the Unthinkable (Little Brown 2009), Moritz and Hizbollah are both able to think and act like revolutionaries in a contemporary era defined by surprise and innovation. They're both "virtuosos of the moment", leveraging the complexity of today's world to realise their goals.

All new media entrepreneurs should read The Age of the Unthinkable. The ability to act like a revolutionary is what distinguishes the grand digital innovators – Steve Jobs, Mark Andreessen, Larry Page and Sergei Brin – from everyone else. And Ramos's message is acutely pertinent, as the moribund Web 2.0 world is being swept away by the revolutionary stream of Twitter and its ecosystem of real-time communications. This week and last week represent a particularly unthinkable fortnight in the history of new media. Last Thursday, Google announced the launch of Wave – an ambitious new communications platform for the internet. On the same day, Microsoft announced the launch of Bing, a search-engine designed to chip away market share away from Google's quasi monopoly in search.

Meanwhile, this Saturday represents the much anticipated American launch of Palm's Pre, a smartphone device upon which Palm have, quite literally, bet the entire company.

The contrast between Google and Microsoft is revealing. The static Bing search-engine appears neither surprising nor innovative – just one more example of Microsoft's persistent failure over the last decade to innovate or surprise. But Google's Wave appears to be an attempt to reinvent both email and instant-messaging in today's real-time internet. As Lars Rasmussen, the Sydney-based engineer driving the Google project, said: "Wave is what email would look like if it were invented today." With Wave, Google is once again trying to revolutionise new media. In 1999, the launch of their user-generated search engine was the first barricade stormed by the Web 2.0 revolution. Wave might represent a similar landmark.

Is Palm like revolutionary Google or reactionary Microsoft? When Palm demonstrated early versions of its smartphone in Las Vegas in January, many pundits were sufficiently impressed to describe the Pre as a legitimate iPhone killer. But I'm not convinced that the Pre will save Palm. To borrow again from Ramos, the Pre appears neither shockingly innovative nor surprising.

In the age of the unthinkable – from the mountains of southern Lebanon to the flats of Silicon Valley – only permanent revolutionaries will survive.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peopleHere's what Stephen Fry would say
News
i100
Sport
Serena Williams holds the Australian Open title
sportAustralia Open 2015 final report
Sport
footballLive: All the latest from today's Premier League matches
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Recruitment Genius: External Relations Executive

£33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An External Relations Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Project Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This established Digital Agency based in East ...

Guru Careers: Sales Director / Business Development Manager

£35 - 45K + COMMISSION (NEG): Guru Careers: A Sales Director / Business Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee