The Networked Century

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The Networked Century

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1blackjack000
gen. 25, 2009, 4:26 pm

Any readers of Freakonomics or The World is Flat? I would say we are moving towards a new age in economics, and its meshing with technology, at a rate never before seen. There's a lot of interesting writing on this broad subject. I've also recently read a piece in Foreign Affairs called America's Edge, by Anne-Marie Slaughter, which touches on the issue--calling this the "Networked Century." I'm sure countless people before me said the same thing, but I feel like this is an exciting time to be living.

2KevinCarson
feb. 17, 2009, 1:30 pm

I certainly agree we're living in interesting times, but I suspect the change will be in a direction Friedman wouldn't approve of: less "globalization" in the sense of long-distance trade in physical goods, and in its place decentralized small-scale production for local markets. Peak Oil and all the other terminal crises of corporate capitalism are making the global economy unsustainable, because the government can no longer subsidize the inputs it needs or guarantee a market for the surplus output of centralized mass production industry. John Robb's work on "resilent communities" at Global Guerrillas blog is a good picture of what lies ahead, IMO. You can throw in a bit of James Kunstler as well, while discounting his more apocalyptic excesses.

Network culture will play a big role in the new economy, IMO (assuming the Internet's infrastructure survives the rolling brownouts). It enables distributed physical production by peer producers, and an open-source approach to industrial designs produced on a decentralized basis. I expect the old corporate dinosaurs of software, entertainment, and most publishing to be killed off by strong encryption and bittorrent, and replaced by peer production.

3lquilter
feb. 18, 2009, 8:59 am

Truly, KevinCarson? "expect" or "hope"? I'm hopeful for many of the things that you mention but not convinced that all of them will happen ....

4KevinCarson
ag. 3, 2009, 2:43 pm

Expect, for sure. I just don't think the proprietary culture model is sustainable, and attempts to enforce it legislatively will only result in the media companies exhausting themselves playing whack-a-mole. As for physical production, when Peak Oil has fuel prices at $7/gallon in a few years, and $12 in a few more, industrial supply and distribution chains will be radically shortened: fuel prices even now, when they've eased a bit, are having more of an effect on long-distance trade than the tariffs of forty years ago.