Conference Call | Talk to the Author | Gutenberg to Google | Tom Wheeler | Sep 25

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“From Gutenberg to Google: The History of our Future

Tom Wheeler

Wednesday, September 25, 2019
1:00-1:30 p.m. CDT

September’s Cover to Cover 

Network revolutions of the past have shaped the present and set the stage for the revolution we are experiencing today. In this fascinating book, former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler puts past revolutions into the perspective of today, when rapid-fire changes in networking are upending the nature of work, personal privacy, education, the media, and nearly every other aspect of modern life. Outlining “What’s Next,” he describes how artificial intelligence, virtual reality, blockchain, and the need for cybersecurity are laying the foundation for a third network revolution.

From the inside flap:

It’s easy to think that today’s revolutions in communications, business, and many areas of daily life are unprecedented. The changes we experience nearly every day may be happening faster than those of the past, and on multiple fronts. But our ancestors at times were just as bewildered by rapid upheavals in what we now call “networks”: the physical links that bind any society together.

In this fascinating book, Tom Wheeler vividly describes the two great network revolutions of the past and uses them to put in perspective the confusion, uncertainty, and excitement most people feel about changes happening now, changes that make up the third network revolution.

The first major network revolution was Gutenberg’s invention of movable-type printing in the fifteenth century, which created the first mass-information economy. This book, its millions of predecessors, and history-shifting trends such as the Reformation, the Renaissance, and the scientific revolutions of the past 500 years would not have been possible without that one invention.

The second revolution came early in the nineteenth century with the inventions of the railroad and the telegraph. Never before had people been able to travel or communicate over long distances faster than a horse could gallop. Together, these two inventions compressed space and time, and in the process upended centuries of stability, transformed economies, and redrew the map of the world.

Wheeler contrasts these past revolutions with our experience today, when rapid-fire changes in networking are disrupting the nature of work, personal privacy, education, the media, and nearly every other aspect of modern life. The principal manifestation of this revolution—one that touches each of us directly and shapes both commerce and culture—is how we connect with each other. Our

networks have always defined who we are, both economically and sociologically. Now, technology has delivered us into history’s latest network revolution, changing everything it touches.

Outlining “what’s next,” Wheeler describes how artificial intelligence, virtual reality, blockchain, and the need for cybersecurity will prolong the third network revolution well into the future.

Tom Wheeler

Tom Wheeler is a businessman, author, and was Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) from 2013 to 2017. Presently, he is a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School.

For over four decades, Wheeler has been involved with new telecommunications networks and services. At the FCC he led the efforts that resulted in the adoption of Net Neutrality, privacy protections for consumers, and increased cybersecurity, among other policies. His chairmanship has been described as, “The most productive Commission in the history of the agency.” During the Obama-Biden Transition of 2008/09 Mr. Wheeler led activities overseeing the agencies of government dealing with science, technology, space and the arts.

As an entrepreneur, he started or helped start multiple companies offering innovative cable, wireless and video communications services. He is the only person to be selected to both the Cable Television Hall of Fame and the Wireless Hall of Fame, a fact President Obama joked made him “the Bo Jackson of telecom.”

Prior to being appointed Chairman of the FCC by President Obama, Wheeler was Managing Director at Core Capital Partners, a venture capital firm investing in early stage Internet Protocol (IP)-based companies. He is CEO of the Shiloh Group, a strategy development and private investment company specializing in telecommunications services. He co-founded SmartBrief, the Internet’s largest curated information service for vertical markets.

From 1976 to 1984, Wheeler was associated with the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) where he was President and CEO from 1979 to 1984. Following NCTA Wheeler was CEO of several high-tech companies, including the first company to offer high-speed delivery to home computers and the first digital video satellite service. From 1992 to 2004, Wheeler served as President and CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA).

Mr. Wheeler’s newest book is From Gutenberg to Google: The History of Our Future, to be published by Brookings Press in January 2019. He is also the author of Take Command: Leadership Lessons from the Civil War (Doubleday, 2000), and Mr. Lincoln’s T-Mails: The Untold Story of How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War (HarperCollins, 2006). His commentaries on current events have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, and numerous other leading publications.

Mr. Wheeler served on President Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board prior to being named to the FCC. Presidents Clinton and Bush each appointed him a Trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He is the former Chairman and President of the National Archives Foundation, and a former board member of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).

He is a proud graduate of The Ohio State University and a recipient of Ohio State’s Alumni Medal. He also received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Rochester Institute of Technology. Mr. Wheeler resides in Washington, D.C.


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