Overcoming the Last Communications Bottleneck

Eli M. Noam

Exposed as we are to a torrent of victory bulletins from the front lines of R&D labs and marketers, it is easy to believe that the information revolution is being won. Computers get faster, smaller, and cheaper. Fiber optics technology adds enormous capacity and diversity to telecommunications. Television becomes sharper in picture and global in reach. Fax, VCRs, PCs, and laser printers reach distant cottages. Thus, humankind appears to be on the verge of achieving mastery over information, turning the scarcest of all resources— knowledge—into an abundant one. Yet at the same time we seem, in our private and professional lives, to become less the masters of information and more its slaves, forever trying to catch up with the torrents that reach us and usually failing. Why is this happening in the face of the marvels of new technology?

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