Superconnecting Structures to Touch the Sky 

You can see the importance of such connectors reflected in architecture, of all things. Prior to the 20th century, the largest buildings in just about every major city in the U.S. (and most other countries) belonged to the government. The courthouse, the capital building, the governor’s or mayor’s estate. But within a few years, as architectural advances paralleled the rise of mass media, skyscrapers popped up in every metro area; the most prominent of these buildings, from the late 1800s on, tended to be owned by media companies. The renowned Times Square in New York City got its name from The New York Times, which operated out of the iconic building at the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue. In the 1920s, the Tribune Tower, owned by Chicago’s largest newspaper, dominated the Windy City’s skyline. In Philadelphia, Comcast’s building at 1701 JFK Boulevard makes the other edifices of downtown Philly look puny.

The buildings symbolize the importance of mass media, an industry built on the notion of one-to-many communication which became the most influential—and fastest-rising—institution in modern society. (Although you’ll notice that banks are starting to take over city skylines as of the late 20th century. Perhaps also symbolically.)

Consider that before newspapers could reach hundreds of thousands of people in a day, and before radio and television and Internet publishing could reach millions at once, there were few national- or international-scale businesses. And there certainly weren’t fast-growing startups and consumer brands in the numbers we see today. But once companies could communicate one-to-many by sidling up to the content that Mass Media delivered—ads next to the Sports column, messages in between radio episodes of The Lone Ranger—the number of fast-growing, large-scale businesses shot up as quickly as those skyscrapers.