Had Joshua Cooper Ramo's latest book, The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks, been published before the launch of Napster, the recording industry might have been prepared for the seismic shift in power that was about to take place. In Ramo's terms, the record labels could have remained "gatekeepers" instead of becoming "gatekept."
While Ramo is a music buff with wide-ranging tastes — a short list of favorites includes Jose James, Gregory Porter, Skrillex, Steely Dan and FKJ — his best-seller isn't about the music business at all. Instead, The Seventh Sense is a methodical, global assessment of how confusing and contradicting our "always on" networked society has become. Along the way, he offers insightful commentary about many of the problems that all of us face today in this new society of constant connectivity, where the nature of everything has changed.
Ramo is an impressive writer. Now 48, he began working as a journalist at Newsweek magazine in 1993. Three years later, he joined Time magazine, where he frequently wrote cover stories and in 1998 became the youngest senior editor and foreign editor in the history of the world's largest circulated weekly news magazine.
Prompted by an interest in business and global affairs, Ramo soon began working with a former president of Goldman Sachs before taking a job with Kissinger Associates. He moved to China, where, near the Min River, he met 89-year-old Nan Huai-Chin, known as Master Nan, a spiritual teacher and major force in the revival of Chinese Buddhism. The Seventh Sense is a reflection of lessons in classical wisdom, concentration and insight that Ramo learned from Nan, all of which, Ramo suggests, leads to the cultivation of an instinct — a seventh sense.
In The Seventh Sense, Ramo also points out that, on one hand, the Internet is a democratizing force, offering access to billions of people, while, on the other hand, it's a monopolistic enterprise controlled by a relative few. Spotify, Google and Facebook are good examples of this "winner take all" culture. Published in the late spring of 2016, the book also explains how Trump would win the election, the psychology of ISIS and the contagion of this century from a world where constant connection, short attention spans, reduced concentration, and mitigation of deeper thought develops a pandemic of the mind.
Ramo currently serves simultaneously as co-chief executive officer and vice chairman of Kissinger Associates and as member of the boards of directors of both FedEx and Starbucks. A Mandarin speaker, Ramo divides his time between Beijing and New York, and was the creator of The Beijing Consensus and a founder of the US‐China Young Leaders Forum.
In a time of worldwide pessimism, Joshua Cooper Ramo's The Seventh Sense offers hope for the future with a message that, in this age of constant connection, it will be our seventh sense of networks that prepares us to meet the challenges that lie ahead.
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