He's been called the postmodern Chicken Little, but it happens that the sky really is falling. Jeremy Rifkin pulls the plug on the trend away from property ownership and free public life in The Age of Access: The New Culture of Hypercapitalism Where All of Life Is a Paid-For Experience
. As usual, he's a bit ahead of the curve--most of us aren't fully immersed yet in the sea of leased products and packaged experiences that he sees awaiting us. Still, his eerie vision of a world of gatekeepers paying each other for access to nearly every aspect of human life brings a chilling new meaning to the phrase "pay to play" and should spark some debate over our new cultural revolution.
Using examples from business and government experiments with just-in-time access to goods and services and resource sharing, Rifkin defines a new society of renters who are too busy breaking the shackles of material possessions to mourn the passing of public property. Are we encouraging alienation or participation? Can we trust corporations with stewardship of our social lives? True to form, the author asks more questions than he answers--a sign of an open mind. If property is theft, leased access is extortion, and The Age of Access warns us of the complex changes coming in our relationships with our homes, our communities, and our world. --Rob Lightner
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"One basic economic rule, as Mr. Rifkin points out, has not changed since Roman times: caveat emptor. In the brave new wired world, it will be ever more difficult for the buyer to beware of technology speeding forward in nanoseconds, controlled by global giants." --The New York Times
"Rifkin's vision of corporate capitalism dematerializing into webs of access of networks of 'virtual' power is startling and compelling." --William Greider, author of One World, Ready or Not