Book Review: Bits, Bytes, and Balance Sheets

Title: Bits, Bytes, and Balance Sheets (Amazon)

Authour: Walter B. Wriston

Publisher: Hoover Institution Press (*)

Score: 5/10

The book “Bits, Bytes, and Balance Sheets” aims to provide some flavour surrounding technologies role in changing the economic environment, and related institutions (including government) – namely through its impact on information dissemination. However, there is also a strong focus on human capital throughout.

Although the ideas are there, the decision to base each chapter on a different speech or essay gives the book a disjointed feeling. This leads to the strange situation where there is a lot of repetition and an “under justification” of what are actually some contensious points (such as the nature of increasing returns industries).

Furthermore, even though many of the concepts do have official names (such as increasing returns to scale) these names were often left out. Although someone familiar with these concepts would not mind – it does reduce the usefulness of the book to people who are only starting to learn about the role of technology in framing the economic environment.

However, the one big plus with the book is the large set of direct and historical anecdotes made by the author. These sorts of anecdotes really added colour to ideas – and would be useful for anyone trying to teach “increasing returns to scale” or information type courses.

Overall, I enjoyed parts of the book – but the ideas were just too disjointed for me to recommend it. I get the feeling that the speech that the book was based on would have been excellent – but the translation to book form just did not work.