Sonar Book Club: The Box - How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger

Marc Levinson

Alistair Ward
July 7, 2020

I picked up The Box after hearing a number of recommendations from my favourite business and extra-curricular podcast hosts: Tim Ferriss and How I Built This. Working within the digital communications industry, and having a solid understanding of how the internet has opened up opportunities for borderless markets, I was attracted to the The Box and the ideas behind how the simple shipping container fundamentally transformed the nature of global commerce and the supply chain in a very short period of time.

In our contemporary connected world of digital transformation, I really enjoyed how such a simple piece of ‘technology’ could be applied so innovatively to disrupt on a global scale. Not withstanding the immense and irreversible impact the introduction of standardised shipping containers had on the unions, dock workers, and transport operators around the world. Much like our modern disruptive experiences of the ‘overnight’ introduction of services providers such as Uber, AirBnB, and Fiverr have had on their respective industries and the development of the sharing economy as a whole.


I feel like The Box could do with some more graphical references as it comes across as overly academic and dry in some parts. But the underlying story of innovation and global transformation really aligned to my interest in digital marketing and Sonar’s continual approach to learning and leveraging connected technologies to access global audiences to deliver a commercial return for our clients.


The Box also makes me wonder what the next version of the shipping container might be over the next decade, particularly with the heavy (and in some cases, forced) shift to more digitally-led solutions and customer experiences due to effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the traditional goods and services we consume today – not to mention the exponential growth in remote working and connected commerce powered by the likes of Slack, Zoom, and Google-suite, just to name a few.


The Box is definitely worth a read for anyone that might like to understand the history of transport logistics as well as considering its application to a modern-way of communications transformation and building economies of scale. Check out the book on Booktopia here.

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