Ordering some books for my American grandson’s Christmas present, I remembered that my bookseller, Amazon, had played a most significant part in both the reality and the folklore of electronic revolution.
The folklore mostly dwelt on Amazon’s trading losses as evidence that the internet was a passing fad which businesses could safely ignore as they went about their affairs in the traditional way. The cynics paid no attention to the reality – like the huge build-up in customer details that Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, was enjoying, or the enviable size of his cash flow. The deniers believed what they wanted to believe, which was that Amazon was going down the tubes.
There are two basic and very grave faults involved here. First is the conservative reluctance to accept that any disruptive change (especially if ‘not invented here’) can possibly be good. Second is failure to think things through. When I wrote ‘Culture Shock – the Office Revolution’ in 1990, the Worldwide Web was still three years away. But it was obvious to anyone who examined the facts that linked personal computers had revolutionary implications for every business then running on paperwork. The benefits on offer vastly exceeded the investment required.