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Is the iPad the New Guillotine?

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Posted on July 5 2010 6:30 pm
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Is the iPad the New Guillotine?

July 4, 2010 by Howard Bloom

What Do Brooklyn’s Tea Lounge and Al Qaeda Have In Common? It’s time to kill bureaucracy. What do I mean? And what does this call for revolution have to do with the next generation of netbooks, Apple tablets and Google Phones? Not to mention with the Taliban and Al Qaeda?

America needs a productivity revolution to lead the world into the next half century. It needs the equivalent of the American System of Manufacture, the system of standardized, interchangeable parts the U.S. invented in government arsenals and watch factories from 1819 to 1850 and showed off at the Great Exposition in London in 1851, a system that wowed the Exposition’s organizer, Prince Albert, a system that multiplied the output of the American economy between 1774 and 1909 by a factor of, hold on to your seat, 175, a system that tripled the income of the American worker between 1800 and 1900, a system that led to Henry Ford’s invention of the assembly line in 1908, and a system that made America one of the greatest exporting powers of all time.

But the factory floor is not the only place where you can massively upgrade worker productivity. Why? In 1900, office workers—information shufflers—were only 17.6% of the American work force. By 2009, that figure was up to 79%. Radically change the way we shuffle information, and you can reinvent the American system. More important, you can change the way we treat the people that information represents.

And the new means of information processing and people-interfacing is upon us. It’s in our techno-toys.

Here’s what gives me this suspicion. I write my books, run international scientific groups, and put together meetings between Europeans, Americans, Australians, and Asians by taking my laptop and smart phone seven days a week to a café in Park Slope Brooklyn called the Tea Lounge—a huge, dark, and cavernous place with couches and easy chairs arranged living-room style around low-slung coffee tables.

Early in February 2010, for example, my assistant and I put together a meeting in which I introduced Buzz Aldrin in L.A. to Dr. A.P.J. Kalam, the former president of India, in New Delhi. How did we pull it off? Four months of work on Skype, cellphone and laptop. And how did I do my part from a café? Way back in 2003, I convinced the owners to put in Wi-Fi. The result? An explosion of Tea Lounge business. And a weekly stream of intercontinental electronic meetings from a couch in a public place.

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