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Making the Information Society: Experience, Consequences, and Possibilities by James W. Cortada

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Chapter 10. The Future of Information in America

 

An extrapolation of the trends of the 1880s would show today’s cities buried under horse manure.

 
 --NORMAN MACRAE

In the late 19th century the problem of horse manure had become the subject of discussion among officials in many large American cities. Of course all that changed quickly with the adoption of the internal combustion engine as the replacement for horsepower. Urban manure passed into history, replaced with the equally distinctive scent of gasoline-driven progress. The lesson in hindsight is simple: Give Americans a new technology that works as well, cheaper, or faster than what they have today and they will adopt it quickly. In the case of the poor horses, within a generation they were ...

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