Urgent Matters

The Industrial Revolution has a rival

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A few weeks ago, I visited the Henry Ford Museum near Detroit, which stands as a monument to manufacturing genius. Since then, I have been reading more about the Industrial Revolution. And the more I read, the more I am becoming convinced that the period between 1750 and 1850 is the most disruptive 100-year period in the history of mankind.

During this time, the world's economy began an inexorable shift from one that was largely agrarian to one that became dominated by manufacturing. Even agriculture began to automate, sparked by Eli Whitney's invention in 1794 of the cotton gin — a contraption that dramatically decreased the time and effort needed to separate cotton seeds from the usable fiber, which boosted the cotton industry in the United States.

Meanwhile, the manner in which goods moved through the pipeline changed dramatically as well, because the advent of steam power now made it possible to transport products and raw materials via waterways and railways.

The world's population underwent profound change--increasing six-fold during this era--and its average per capita income exploded, increasing by a factor of 10. And that population shifted dramatically as well, flocking to cities that fast were becoming the place to be as they evolved from places where goods were sold to places where they were made. In short, the world was very, very different than it had been before the Industrial Revolution commenced.

I think it can be argued that another revolution is in a nascent stage that will be every bit as impactful — perhaps even more so — as the Industrial Revolution. Like its predecessor, the broadband revolution will change the way people conduct business, how they purchase goods and services, how they communicate, where they live, and even how they think. That's because broadband is leveling the playing field by knocking down barriers to entry. In time, it will be ubiquitous — and when it is, it will be a game-changer.

It's already starting to happen, some of which we have been exploring over the past few weeks in a series of webinars sponsored by Cassidian Communications. In the last couple of installments, which are archived at our website, we examined how broadband will impact first responders in the field, and those in the nation's public-safety answering points. On Thursday we will dig into how broadband is having a positive impact on our citizenry. We have a great panel lined up, and I hope you'll tune in.

As always, I am confident that you will find it time well spent.

What do you think? Tell us in the comment box below.

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Insights from Donny Jackson concerning the most important news, trends and issues.

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Donny Jackson

Donny Jackson is editor of Urgent Communications magazine. Before joining UC in 2002, he covered telecommunications for four years as a freelance writer and as news editor for Telephony magazine....
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