Book Review of "Next: The Future Just Happened" By Michael Lewis

Essay by nzuhairUniversity, Master'sA+, August 2004

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This four-chapter book describes some of the implications of the rapidly developing Internet culture. It is a collection of true Internet-inspired stories illustrating how the Internet and information technologies are changing our lives, restructuring our societies, families, and financial establishments and shaking up some long-held convictions regarding the roles that people should or should not undertake. The writer's main argument is that the Internet will significantly alter existing assumptions about hierarchies of expertise and even of age.

The Internet made it possible for 15 year old Jonathan Lebed to undertake the role of a professional financial analyst and play the "grownup" game of stock market. The SEC accused Jonathan of "manipulating" the stock market by posting scores of messages on financial message boards - under a host of aliases - puffing up stocks which he had previously purchased, and selling them at a considerable profit. According to him, he was not doing anything different from "real" analysts whose business it was to make unwarranted predictions about the future value of stocks, that may or may not prove to be true.

This line of argument prompted the SEC to drop the case while allowing Jonathan to keep most of the $800,000 he made using his scheme. After all, if a court would rule in favor of the kid, it would mean that the structure of stock trading - part of which is the supposed training and "expertise" of financial analysts - would collapse altogether.

The Internet also made it possible for another 15 year old kid, Marcus Arnold, to present himself as a "legal expert" on, and to be ranked as #1 legal advisor by the users. Marcus, undoubtedly talented, did this solely from what he learned watching court TV!

Both Jonathan and Marcus are considered as "outsiders" to the...