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The Pebble and the Avalanche

Book Description

Important revolutions of the past 30 years include the Internet, personal computers, the XML programming language, and the breakup of AT&T. What do they have in common? All are based on innovations that break technology apart. After breaking a technology apart, it still works -- phone calls could still be made after the breakup of AT&T -- but it is composed of smaller and more flexible pieces that can be used to create new innovations. This process is called "disaggregation," so named because the pieces of the technology that were formerly stuck together are pried apart but not destroyed. Using the simple metaphor of the pebble and the avalanche -- prying rocks loose from a mountaintop releases tremendous energy -- this book explains the workings and benefits of disaggregation. Author Yudkowsky uses case studies from familiar companies and industries to explain how to generate similar innovations, in the process identifying strategies and tactics that maximize these innovations.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover Page
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright Page
  4. Preface
  5. Acknowledgments
  6. Part I. Disaggregation: Why the Sum of the Parts Is Greater Than the Whole
    1. Chapter One Disaggregation: The Driving Force of Revolution
      1. Taking Things Apart: Recent Revolutions
      2. Disaggregation: The Science of Taking Things Apart
    2. Chapter Two Starting Revolutions: What to Take Apart
      1. Step 1. Sort the Innovation
      2. Step 2: Answer the Basic Questions
      3. Step 3: Assess the Revolutionary Potential
    3. Chapter 3 Benefits of Disaggregation: The Revolutionary’s Bill of Rights
      1. Creativity
      2. Competition
      3. Cost Reduction
      4. Simplicity
      5. Specialization
      6. Synergy
    4. Chapter Four Four Stages to Revolution: Devise, Interface, Accept, Evaluate
      1. Devise
      2. Interface
      3. Accept
      4. Evaluate
      5. An Important Distinction
  7. Part II. Case Studies: Two Hundred Years of Revolutions
    1. Chapter Five From Horses and Buggies to Jet Planes: The Revolution in Manufacturing
    2. Chapter Six The Automobile Takes On the Railroads
      1. The Industrial Age: Canals, Railways, and Automobiles
      2. The Roadway
      3. The Traffic
      4. Network Management
      5. The Business
    3. Chapter Seven The Internet’s Permanent Revolution
      1. The Ancient History of Networks: The 1970s and 1980s
      2. Two Visions of the Worldwide Data Network
      3. How and Why the Internet Won
      4. Benefits of the Permanent Revolution
      5. The Automobile and the Internet
  8. Part III. Business Strategies: How to Cope, How to Fail, and How to Predict the Future
    1. Chapter Eight Interfaces and Standards: The Nuts and Bolts of Modern Civilization
      1. The Origin of Standard Parts
      2. The Business Case for Standards
      3. Business Case Errors
      4. Standards and Obsolescence
      5. The Benefits of Standards
    2. Chapter Nine Coping with Surprises
      1. Digital Photography
      2. Five Steps to Remember: A, E, I, O, U
      3. A Little Pep Talk
    3. Chapter Ten Marx, Lenin, and Gates: Failed Counterrevolutions
      1. Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and the Nuts and Bolts of Socialism
      2. Bill Gates: Running the Wheels Backwards
      3. The Open Source Challenge to Microsoft
    4. Chapter Eleven The Role of Government
      1. The Other Government
      2. If You Lose Anyway
    5. Chapter Twelve Predictions: Three Revolutions in Progress
      1. XML: A Universal Language for Data
      2. The End of the Telephone Company: Internet Telephony
      3. The Amazing Exploding Computer: Jini and Bluetooth, or Something Like Them
    6. Chapter Thirteen Getting Started, Finishing Touches
      1. How to Start
      2. Finishing Touches: The Thoughts That Got Away
  9. Endnotes
  10. Index
  11. About Disaggregate
  12. About the Author
  13. About Berrett-Koehler Publishers
    1. Be Connected