Wednesday, July 14, 2004

All Your Base Are Belong to Us

This guy seems to have been prescient.

<< Seven years ago I published in American Arts Quarterly the following meditation on the earlier collapse of the agricultural and manufacturing economies:

". . . the third wave, the information age, is upon us, the golden dawn upon the economic horizon. However, . . . the same thing will happen to the information industries, presently ascendant, as happened to the farms and factories. There is no reason the technologies of data storage, management and retrieval should not perfect and miniaturize and cheapen and streamline themselves almost out of existence like their predecessors. If the historical analogy holds, employment, investment, and cultural commitment in the information industries will rise to about 90% of the given resources; at first huge fortunes will be made; then as the labor demand rises, economic equality will increase; there will follow the predictable collapse of the labor market as the information industries become more and more cost-efficient, smaller and smaller on the world's horizon, less and less labor-intensive, and finally less capital-hungry and less profitable, leaving a few cash cows providing all the world's needs. Eventually their operation will take up 2% of our money and our people. Hordes of information workers will be turned out on the streets, asking the employed if they can spare a dime. Moreover all this will happen much faster than the rise and decline of manufacturing, just as the manufacturing age happened faster than the agricultural age."
(American Arts Quarterly, Winter 1997)

At that time I predicted the emergence of a new economy that would succeed the information economy:

"Finally, we will be left with the irreducibly labor- and capital-intensive human industries of what we might call "charm": education, entertainment, adventure, religion, sport, fashion, history, movies, ritual, personal development, politics, the eternal soap opera of relationships. . . The world's largest industry today is not electronics, not automobiles, not oil, but tourism." >>

I think he's right. I think that's the future, al Qaida willing. People will increasingly spend money on experiential projects. As the difficulty of living continues to fall (cars are cheap, food is cheap, clothes are cheap) and it becomes less and less necessary to spend ones days working for a living, people will spend more and more time seeking new experiences. You only go around once in life; might as well make the most of it.


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