Will History Repeat Itself?

Humans have been curious creatures throughout the beginning of time. For it is almost as if we have an unspoken duty to discover more about everything as much as we possibly can. Now don’t get me wrong there are things in life I rather not known about, but whether I choose to discover it myself, someone else will eventually will. Throughout history, technology has been one of the most beneficial factors in the transformation of the way not only we obtain our information, but how we can distribute it as well. As a photographer the variety of options that I have for not only enhancing the way my photos look but the way in which I distribute them has changed over time. With the expansion of opportunities of connecting with people,sharing my photos through not only the web but via text, has progressed due to technology. 

History shows a typical progression of information technologies: from somebody’s hobby to somebody’s industry.

-Tim Wu’s The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, Page 7

Although the progression of information technologies is somewhat inevitable, with new ideas emerging every day, there are consequences that come along with it. In Tim Wu’s The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, he describes various stories illustrating both the accomplishments and defeat of various empires due to the his theory of the Cycle. Wu believes that “the Cycle is powered by disruptive innovations that upon once thriving industries , bankrupt the dominant powers and change the world” (Wu 20). In his five part novel, Wu constructs a path in order for the reader to not just understand the Cycle itself, but to see whether or not the reader can answer the question of “Will history repeat itself?”


Tim Wu’s Five Part Series described, Page 12

“The answer to which is as yet a matter of conjecture, for which I argue, our best basis is history” 

– Tim Wu’s The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, Page 12

cycle-mdTherefore, while discussing the information industries that helped shape our society today, he concludes his novel with the suspicion of whether or not the Cycle will strike the Internet. As one can ponder about whether or not the Internet will partake in this Cycle it is important to consider what has already come about during it’s time. Unlike the issues that Alexander Bell’s company of AT&T had to face, that fell into the Cycle more times than one, the Internet and Web were different.

In fact, Wu believed that they ran against two important Bell principles (Wu 285).:

  1. They are decentralized, while Bell’s network is predicted on centralized control.
  2. They both allow anyone to conduct business without the operator’s permission, leaving the network no means or right to demand a cut of any profits.



Apple’s Macintosh 1984

On top of that, as time went on, the development of the Internet progressed. With the help of Apple changing the way we receive information completely, through the invention of  Macintosh which eventually lead to the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad; or Google changing the way in which people even begin their Web experience, the Internet and Web have changed society and even the Cycle itself.

“In an age ruled by individual choice how is it that we could be in danger of such an unprecedented takeover of information? Do we in fact seem to embrace, even celebrate, information empires?”

– Tim Wu, The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, Page 320

Honestly I don’t have an answer to this question, and after reading this book it seems as though no one will. The desire to want more is just another part of humans that we can’t control. To want our texts to send faster, or our battery life on our computer to last longer or even in life not involving technology, the desire will always remain. The Internet and Web is a place of openness and growth, and with new advancements developing each and every day, the power for one monopoly to take over, just as it did in the past information industries just doesn’t seem as likely. In this day and age technology grows so fast not even I can keep up. Whether it being a new phone that just came out or a new program for editing photos, technology is moving fast, and now it’s just a matter if Wu’s Cycle can keep up.

Wu, Tim. The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires. Atlantic, 2012.


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