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The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism Hardcover – 1 Apr 2014

4 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (1 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1137278463
  • ISBN-13: 978-1137278463
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 3.1 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 202,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Admirable in its scope...what makes "The Zero Marginal Cost Society" worth reading is its audacity, its willingness to weave a vast string of developments into a heartening narrative of what our economic future may hold for the generations to come. You can call it naive, but it's much more than that. It's hopeful. "Fortune" A thought-provoking read that pushes some of the most important new technologies to their logical and sometimes scary conclusions The value of this book doesn't lie in the accuracy of its specific forecasts, but rather in the extrapolations of current trends that enable Rifkin to reach them. If Rifkin's predictions have value... it is in bringing home the extent of the technologically induced upheaval that may lie ahead. How we deal with the consequences is up to us. A grand unifying theory of [Rifkin's] thinking over four decades. "The Financial Times" [An] illuminating new book Rifkin is very good on the historical origins of the giant, vertically integrated organizations that dominated the 20 Century economy. [He] makes a powerful case that from a longer-term perspective, it is these giant hierarchies that are the anomalies of economic history. The shredding of vertical value chains, the creation of vast new horizontal value chains, and the social change of people preferring access to ownership bring massive economic and social changes to business and society, the implications of which [are] only beginning to be glimpsed. For Rifkin, the shifts are positive and huge. "Forbes" Jeremy Rifkin offers an ambitious and optimistic image of how a commons-based, collaborative model of the economy could displace industrial capitalism when the economic and social practices of the Internet are extended to energy, logistics, and material fabrication. Even skeptical readers, concerned with the ubiquitous surveillance and exquisite social control that these same technologies enable, should find the vision exhilarating and its exposition thought provoking. "Yochai Benkler, Harvard Law School" This breathtaking book connects some of today's most compelling technology-driven trends into a five-hundred-year spiral from commons to capitalism and back. Rifkin has produced an intellectual joyride that takes us to the threshold of a new economic order. "Kevin Werbach, the Wharton School" The Zero Marginal Cost Society confirms Jeremy Rifkin as the peerless visionary of technological trends. The future arrives only to fill in the sketches that Rifkin so ably draws. I highly recommend this book as a cure for those who are perplexed about the future of technology. "Calestous Juma, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University" In his latest work, Jeremy Rifkin turns his gaze on the world in which almost everything has a marginal cost approaching zero, asking what the implications are for our economy and the environment. Rifkin's radical conclusions--foretelling the eclipse of our current economic system and the rise of the "collaboratists"--will make this one of the most discussed books of the year. "James Boyle, the Center for the Study of the Public Domain, Duke Law School" Jeremy Rifkin takes us on a whirlwind tour of our past and future, making the undeniable case for our growing, global collaborative destiny. I dare you to read this book and not rethink your future! "Lisa Gansky, author of The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing" A comprehensive exploration of the implications of anyone being able to make anything "Neil Gershenfeld, Director, MIT Center for Bits and Atoms" An amazing work This insightful, surprising, and practical book helps us understand how the emerging Internet of Things is driving extreme productivity, the rush to a near zero marginal cost society, and the rise of a new economic paradigm. Rifkin solves the puzzle of what companies, nonprofit organizations, and governments need to do to reposition themselves on the new Collaborative Commons. The book is a must read for every citizen and decision maker. "Jerry Wind, the Wharton School" Free-market traditionalists have trouble recognizing that the future of governance and economics lies with the Commons--a world of collaboration, sharing, ecological concern and human connection. Jeremy Rifkin deftly describes the powerful forces that are driving this new paradigm and transforming our personal lives and the economy. A highly readable account of the next big turn of the wheel. "David Bollier, author of Think Like a Commoner: A Short Introduction to the Life of the Commons" Brilliantly tackled Rifkin describes how the dramatic lowering of transaction, communication, and coordination costs allow the global scaling of small group dynamics, fundamentally changing the choices that humanity can make for its social organization. Read it, rejoice, and take action to build the new world in which the market and the state are not destroying the commons, but aligned with it. "Michel Bauwens, Founder, P2P Foundation" Jeremy Rifkin has always been ahead of the curve. In "The Zero Marginal Cost Society," Rifkin takes us on a journey to the future, beyond consumerism to "prosumers" who produce what they consume and share what they have on a Collaborative Commons, a contemporary expression of Gandhi's "Swadeshi." His down to earth vision of democratizing innovation and creativity on a global scale, for the wellbeing of all, is inspiring and, equally important, doable. "Vandana Shiva, Environmental Activist and recipient of the Right Livelihood Award""

Book Description

The New York Times bestselling author Jeremy Rifkin explores how today's extreme constant collaboration, paired with no cost manufacturing technologies, are propelling the end of capitalism

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I so wanted to like this book, and to start with it was very promising. Rifkin describes how the emergence of new technologies have impacted and changed society, from the past to the present. He also covers current emerging technology, such as the Internet of Things. It's as the book progresses that the plot starts to get lost.

It's quite clear that Rifkin has a passion - the Collaborative Commons. Unfortunately, to use the saying "if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail", Rifkin sees the adoption of Commons everywhere, and it is the answer to everything. I got the feeling that he had taken a core concept (which, to be honest, is an interesting one), and then tried to fit it to any emerging technology. As someone who actually works in the IoT domain, I struggled to find many links between what we was describing and the actual way the technology of IoT is developing.
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Format: Hardcover
As a society, visions of utopia are very out of fashion; there are plenty of reasons to be despondent about the state of the world today and pessimistic about the future. But it is also easy to forget the great progress there has been for a large section of the human population in the last 50 years and this continues.

Zero Margin Cost is the cost of producing an extra item or service after the capital costs are covered. We have had glimpses of the ZMC society with the emergence of the information internet and peer to peer file sharing which has changed the financial relationship of artist and audience, producer and consumer. The Zero Margin Cost being the cost of replicating and distributing a film, audio track, book or piece of software. We are in the first phases of this shift in technology and Rifkin maps this out into the Third Industrial Revolution, TIR, based upon his analysis of the First and Second Industrial revolutions. He posits that to have an industrial revolution there needs to be a step change in communications, transport and energy. The information internet is here with mobile and wi-fi connectivity; renewable energy is also coming on stream but not linked to the extent of the communication internet and transport lagging behind. This Internet of Things integrates all of the building blocks for the ZMC society to ultimately transform Capitalism by removing the profit motive as society is forced to focus more on efficiency, thermodynamic efficiency, rather than being able to control the markets as is the case at the end of the Second Industrial period that we are now in. Capitalism out competing itself no less.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is so badly written that several times I almost stopped reading it. I then skim-read most of it, and it doesn't deserve more. Clearly it isn't written by Rifkin but by a couple of reseach assistants, neither of whom arer good at writing simply in plain English. Nor has it been edited to reduce a lot of repetition and overlap in the chapters.
The internet of things is not nearly such a big deal as Rifkin makes out and a lot of the stats are almost irrelevant. The 'future of technology' is always different from what people like Rifkin predict.
The one big idea in the book, that the internet of things and associated technology will enable humans to increase the efficiency of their energy use from 13% towards 40%, is both madly optimistic and completely unjustified by any evidence or calculations.
The collaborative commons is indeed happening, but the most interesting stuff isn't to do with 'economics' at all, it's the redefinition of the artistic enterprise to define it, as it was until recently, as a gift.
The book is worth 50 or 60 pages: an essay. The rest is waffle, and badly written waffle too.
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Format: Hardcover
The core idea in this book is that each economic age is defined by its communication, energy production and manufacturing systems. From horse and cart, through canals and trains to trucks. From man power through watermills, windmills, coal and oil. Rifkin then paints a fairly convincing picture of the next age defining technologies. Peer to peer communication on the internet, smart grid controlled locally produced renewable energy, 3d printers, laser cutters etc.

The problem is that is pretty much the whole substance of the book, making a prediction that existing growing technologies will see increasing uptake in the future isn't particularly exciting. The entire book is a brimming with fantastical claims about the future that have no research to back them up and mundane facts carefully referenced. There is also far too much self promotion, name dropping and references to Rifkin's consultancy work for my liking.

The book would be 5 star if he had done any actual research to backup his claims, for example what combination of cost/resolution/durability is needed for 3d printing manufacture to equal a cheap run of 5000 units knocked together in some outsourced factory? How much do people value the increased customization of this sort style of manufacturing vs traditional factory runs?

Without answering any interesting new questions this book was to me largely fluff, although it merits a 2nd star for at least being fluff on an interesting topic.
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