It's only March, but I can guarantee you there won't be a more exciting or inspiring book published this year than "An Army of Davids." Glenn Reynolds, its author, is best known for the Web log called Instapundit, but he is also a musician, the creator of a record label, a law professor, an expert on space (he drafted a position paper on the matter for Al Gore's 1988 campaign) and an unpublished novelist.
"An Army of Davids" is a book about how technology has freed people like Reynolds to pursue their interests in ways that would have been unthinkable 30 years ago. For example, Reynolds can record, mix and complete an album in his basement with a $1,500 computer and software written in Poland - a process once restricted to those with access to multimillion-dollar studios.
n the realm of ideas, entrepreneurs like Reynolds have also pointed the way with Web logs whose daily traffic is larger and whose audiences are more passionate than is the case with many major metropolitan newspapers.
All of this represents a revolutionary power shift. "Small is the new big," Reynolds says. But more interesting, in light of the present political moment, is his description of how power and authority are following a new pattern.
For hundreds of years, power was distributed vertically - from the top down, in a hierarchical pattern. Now that structure is giving way to a horizontal system, in which information travels freely from peer to peer.
The rise of the Internet offers Reynolds his greatest example. Ten years ago, if you had organized a conference meant to devise a plan to make information available on the Internet, the end result would have been for people to throw up their hands in despair: There's too much recorded history, too much material, no way to digitize it all.
But because there was no central plan to gum up the works, the amount of information now available through a free search has democratized the ultimate elite advantage - specialized knowledge. Doctors, lawyers and real-estate brokers no longer hold a monopoly when it comes to the details of their professions.
"People used to be ignorant," Reynolds writes. "It was hard to learn things. You had to go to libraries, look things up, perhaps sit and wait until a book was fetched from storage, or recalled from another user, or borrowed from a different library . . . Things are different today. I'm writing this in a bar right now, and I have most of human knowledge at my fingertips."
That human knowledge was placed on the Internet by millions of people, mostly doing so because they chose to, for no recompense other than to stimulate others to provide similar information in fields that obsessed them.
Read it all............ the book too.