Walter Wriston passed away on Jan 21 at the age of 85. While a banker, he was one of the smartest people on the subject of networks (up there with George Gilder) I’ve known, and amazingly presicent when discussing the impact of networks on quaint old notions of sovereignty and geography.
He was a banker, the father of electronic banking, the man who initiated the revolution that included ATMs and eventually online banking services. The former chairman of Citicorp, he wrote a book, The Twilight of Sovereignty, that influenced most of my thinking about the potential impact of communications networks. Based on his observations of how, in the late 60s, currency traders were able to wrest control over setting the value of any nation’s currency from its Minister of Finance, and “vote”, in real-time, thanks to the first international trading networks, Wriston came to the conclusion that old notions of borders and geography were doomed.
The rise of the European Union and the Euro were predicted by him. Telecommuting was predicted by him. He wasn’t a geek, didn’t go on about doped erbium amplifiers and dark fiber, jjust the big picture.
I had the pleasure of knowing him when he served on the board of Forbes.com. He was a very wise man. Here is Steve Forbes’ tribute.
The Twilight of Sovereignty : How the Information Revolution Is Transforming Our World. I highly recommend it.