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Next [Paperback]

Michael Lewis
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 30 2002
The New York Times bestseller. With his knowing eye and wicked pen, Michael Lewis reveals how the Internet boom has encouraged changes in the way we live, work, and think. In the midst of one of the greatest status revolutions in the history of the world, the Internet has become a weapon in the hands of revolutionaries. Old priesthoods are crumbling. In the new order, the amateur is king: fourteen-year-olds manipulate the stock market and nineteen-year-olds take down the music industry. Unseen forces undermine all forms of collectivism, from the family to the mass market: one black box has the power to end television as we know it, and another one may dictate significant changes in our practice of democracy. With a new afterword by the author.

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If you've ever had the sneaking (and perhaps depressing) suspicion that the Internet is radically changing the world as you know it, buck up. No wait, buckle up--it is. While some people celebrate this and others bemoan it, Michael Lewis has been busy investigating the reasons for this rapid change. Employing the sarcastic wit and keen recognition of social shifts that readers of Liar's Poker and The New New Thing will recognize, Lewis takes us on a quick spin through today and speculates on what it might mean for tomorrow.

Central to Lewis's observations is the idea that the Internet hasn't really caused anything; rather it fills a type of social hole, the most obvious of which is a need to alter relations between "insiders" and "outsiders." In Next, Lewis shows how the Internet is the ideal model for sociologists who believe that our "selves are merely the masks we wear in response to the social situations in which we find ourselves." It is the place where a New Jersey boy barely into his teens flouts the investment system, making big enough bucks to get the SEC breathing down his neck for stock market fraud. Where Markus, a bored adolescent stuck in a dusty desert town and too young to even drive, becomes the most-requested legal expert on Askme.com, doling out advice on everything from how to plead to murder charges to how much an Illinois resident can profit from illegal gains before being charged with fraud ($5,001 was the figure Markus supplied to this particular cost-benefit query). Where a left-leaning kid of 14 in a depressed town outside Manchester is too poor to take up a partial scholarship to a school for gifted children, but who spends all hours (all cheap call-time hours, at least) engaged in "digital socialism," trying to develop a successor to Gnutella, the notorious file-sharing program that had spawned the new field of peer-to-peer computing. Lewis burrows deeply into each of these stories and others, examining social phenomena that the Internet has contributed to: the redistribution of prestige and authority and the reversal of the social order; the erosive effect on the money culture (both in the democratization of capital and in the effect of gambling losing its "status as a sin"); the decreased value we place on formal training (or as he puts it "casual thought went well with casual dress"); and the increased need for knowledge exchange.

Lewis's observations are piercingly sharp. He can be very funny in portraying ordinary people's behavior, but remains thorough and insightful in his examination of the social consequences. He notes that Jonathan Lebed, the teenage online investor, had "glimpsed the essential truth of the market--that even people who called themselves professionals were often incapable of independent thought and that most people, though obsessed with money, had little ability to make decisions about it." While Lewis's commentary gets a little more dense and theoretical toward the end, Next is an entertaining, thought-provoking look at life in an Internet-driven world. --S. Ketchum --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

utting an engaging and irreverent spin on yesterday's news, Lewis (Liar's Poker; The New, New Thing) declares that power and prestige are up for grabs in this look at how the Internet has changed the way we live and work. Probing how Web-enabled players have exploited the fuzzy boundary between reality and perception, he visits three teenagers who have assumed startling roles: Jonathan Lebed, the 15-year-old New Jersey high school student who made headlines when he netted $800,000 as a day trader and became the youngest person ever accused of stock-market fraud by the SEC; Markus Arnold, the 15-year-old son of immigrants from Belize who edged out numerous seasoned lawyers to become the number three legal expert on AskMe.com; and Daniel Sheldon, a British 14-year-old ringleader in the music-file-sharing movement. Putting himself on the line, Lewis is freshest in his reportage, though he doesn't pierce the deeper cultural questions raised by the kids' behavior. As a financial reporter tracing the development of innovative industries like black box interactive television and interactive political polling from their beginnings as Internet brainstorms, Lewis reminds readers that the twin American instincts to democratize and commercialize intertwine on the Internet, and can only lead to new business. In the past, Lewis implies, industry insiders would simply have shut out eager upstarts, yet today insiders, like AOL Time Warner, allow themselves "to be attacked in order to later co-opt their most ferocious attackers and their best ideas." (July 30)Forecast: Lewis's track record, a major media campaign and a 12-city author tour through techie outposts will make this hard to ignore. As a breezy summer read, it's fun enough, but those looking for profound business insights will be disappointed.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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One day some social historian will look back with wonder on the havoc wreaked by the Internet. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Next the future just happend May 17 2004
Format:Hardcover
:
The book shows how ones life can be affected by the Stock Market. Jonathan Lebed is 14-year-old boy who is accused of Stock Market fraud. Lewis shows Jonathan in a family setting just to depict the stress the stock market could cause on a small town family. One of the main point that Lewis is showing in presented when he writes, "the point is even a fourteen-year-old boy could see how it worked-why some guy working for free out of a basement in Jackson, Missouri was more reliable than the most highly paid analyst on Wall street"(pg.57). The problem was not that Jonathan did what he did but that fact that he was so young an inexperienced.
By reading this book it further my knowledge on how misleading the Stock Market could be when I agree to invest my income I will be more cautious.
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4.0 out of 5 stars what i thought March 24 2004
Format:Paperback
This book just happened to be a really great book. After reading review after review of this book, i realized that i felt the same way as everyone else. I thought that this book was going to be really bad or really boring. Well I got news for you...this book was great! It's the many stories of people all over the world who have had different beneficial and damaging experiences witht the internet. Personally i liked it, and I'm not one big on computer nerd books. This is not one of them. This is a book for everyone.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Teens Rule Dec 12 2003
Format:Paperback
Next: The Future Just Happened is about how the internet is changing the world. Lewis profiles Jonathan Lebed, a teenage stock market wizard (the SEC says he was a stock market manipulator -- Lewis isn't so sure); a teenage law expert who has never studied law; a teenager in England who is using Gnutella software as a springboard to, I don't know, take over the world, I guess.
It seems obvious from the first half of the book that teenage boys are using the internet to become rich, powerful, and influential. So maybe all the internet has really done is speed things up by a few decades. But Lewis throws the over-thirties among us a small bone by interviewing an aging rock group that uses the internet to raise money for a tour, an eighty-something woman who participates in WebTV polls, and the creators of TiVo.
The second half of the book is a bit unconvincing. Set-top boxes, big deal. Those teenagers rule the book, and it would seem, the world.
Lewis, as usual, writes an engaging book, it pulls you right in and moves quickly. The Lebed story itself makes the book worth your time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Changing of the Guard Oct. 24 2003
By Leo Lim
Format:Paperback
Talks about the dramatic changes brought about by the Internet in a world where adults are supposed to rule. Anecdotes range from a kid whose instincts in playing the stock market prove to be better than experienced stock brokers to a teenager whose legal advice prove more useful in the people's eyes compared to the members of the Bar. All these are possible as they compete in the ultimate playing field called the Internet.
Author then progresses from the Internet to the concept of change in general and closes with Bill Joy's article on Wired magazine titled, "Why the Future Doesn't Need Us" outlining the software guru's fear of change. In the end CHANGE of which the Internet is just one form is the ultimate leveller in any playing field.
Excellent writing!!!! I give it 5 stars
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4.0 out of 5 stars Much better than I expected July 7 2003
Format:Paperback
To be totally honest, I was prepared to hate this book - I've (at least until recently) never been a Michael Lewis fan. But this book was a pleasant surprise - Lewis dropped his smarter-than-thou sarcasm about most things and instead delivers a great deal of insight on how the web is truly changing things - for all of us.
Similar subject matter to the Cluetrain Manifesto, but MUCH better delivery. Worth a read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Slow start, but picks up the pace soon enough March 14 2003
By A.T.
Format:Hardcover
The internet revolution has allowed teenagers to influence the stock market, the music industry, and even the interpretation of law itself. Lewis investigated various sites on the internet, and then interviewed the people responsible for the material. Lewis discovered that by masking their identities, teenagers are able to do pretty much anything they want. Fifteen year old Jonathon Lebed manipulates the investment system, making about $800,000. The SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) forces Jonathon to hand over some but not all of his profits, proving that even the government cannot do anything about the number of kids who are overtaking the business world. The next kid that Lewis interviewed is also a fifteen year old boy, Marcus Arnold from Perris California. Marcus disguises himself as an attorney, offering free legal advice to whoever needed it. Even after revealing his true identity Marcus ends up #1 on AskMe.Com. Finally Lewis interviews a fourteen year old British boy a follower of the creator of Gnutella, a web-based file sharing program. Lewis also reveals that it was a mastermind nineteen year old who was responsible for the worldwide file sharing system, Napster.
It is always interesting to find out that kids have the power to change our world. Although the book started off slow, it soon picked up the pace. I recommend this everyone, especially teenagers. Also if you're an internet fan, this book might inspire you to do who knows what.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Starts out slow, but picks up the pace soon enough March 14 2003
By A.T.
Format:Paperback
Michael Lewis describes how the internet revolution has allowed teenagers to influence the stock market, the music industry, and even the interpretation of law itself. Lewis investigated various sites on the internet, and then interviewed the people responsible for the material. Lewis discovered that by masking their identities, teenagers are able to do pretty much anything they want. Fifteen year old Jonathon Lebed manipulates the investment system, making about $800,000. The SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) forces Jonathon to hand over some but not all of his profits, proving that even the government cannot do anything about the number of kids who are overtaking the business world. The next kid that Lewis interviewed is also a fifteen year old boy, Marcus Arnold from Perris California. Marcus disguises himself as an attorney, offering free legal advice to whoever needed it. Even after revealing his true identity Marcus ends up #1 on AskMe.Com. Finally Lewis interviews a fourteen year old British boy a follower of the creator of Gnutella, a web-based file sharing program. Lewis also reveals that it was a mastermind nineteen year old who was responsible for the worldwide file sharing system, Napster.
It is always interesting to find out that kids have the power to change the world. Although this book was a bit of a slow read at first, it soon picked up its pace.
I recommend this book to everyone, especially teenagers. Also if you're a big internet fan, this book might inspire you to do who knows what.
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