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
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Manager (EMEA) - City, London

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Manager...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?