The digital shift: 10 themes shaping the legal agenda

The first industrial revolution, which began in the 1750s, lasted for between 80 and 100 years. The pace of technological change today encourages us to believe that the second industrial revolution (IR2) will be completed at much greater speed.

So if we take the mid-1980s as a starting point, with the emergence of optical disk technologies into consumer markets, you would expect us to be well on the way to completion, 30 years into IR2.

But we’re not. IR2 is multi-factorial, consisting of developments and changes in technology, law, business models and consumers’ attitudes to copyright, privacy and their use of social media. All of these changes are moving at different speeds, with technology way ahead of the others. If there isn’t a law which states that that ‘the pace of change is dictated by the slowest moving part’, there should be. So if we assume that 2013 marks an approximate midway point, then it is not unreasonable to guess that we have another 20 years or so to go before the tectonic shifts of IR2 have substantially occurred. On that basis, we are still in a period of flux…

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