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book review

The Big Mo: Why momentum now rules our world, by Mark Roeder

Virgin Books, £11.99

This fascinating book is a slightly different take on the ideas covered in William Davidow's book Overconnected. The basic premise is that the frenetic pace of modern life, not to mention the fact that information is so easily and rapidly communicated in today's global, connected society, means that events seem to take on a life of their own.

I read this book as the uprising in Egypt gathered exactly the sort of momentum that Roeder explores here. In this case it may be hard to argue about the outcome, but Roeder-who saw the financial crisis from close up as a senior figure at Swiss bank UBS-makes the point that not all the effects of this trend towards greater momentum are positive.

Certainly those complaining about the ease with which the news agenda can become bogged down on a single story that then gathers the unseemly air of a witch hunt will hear familiar warnings in this book. Roeder does a great job of looking at the various causes of momentum and it becomes really interesting when he moves away from familiar themes to explore the deeper roots of this phenomenon.