The Communication Revolution
Communication is important. But we tend of ascribe incredible abilities to it in calling it a revolution. It’s great, of course, to be able to communicate instantly, seamlessly, and constantly with people with varied interests and varied abilities around the world. But is this enough for a revolution?
Most of what we call technological breakthroughs have happened because of two overarching things — one is the emergence of some technical craftsmanship and knowhow in certain parts, and second is that the right people were able to talk to each other to be able to make this knowhow result in something physical.
The actual impact on the economy however happens once this communication results in something that tangibly alters the process of creating something and selling something. And for that to happen it’s not just about communication but about fundamental changes in the way products are created and sold. Despite the fact that certain new companies are focused on capturing attention and monetising it by essentially becoming digital billboards that follow you around, its still only a very small portion of the economic value that’s created. No matter how flashy the ad, the product still has to be manufactured and shipped.
Looking back in twenty years, it’ll be less of the information highway that’ll seem to be the key to the new economy, but rather the changes in the actual products itself. The human impact of the whole process, in understanding the customer need and flexing to meet it, is not something that can be taken away or treated as an inefficiency. It’s a fundamental feature of the economic system that we like other humans to be involved in our decision making process. We like the opinions and information that comes from people, and the serendipitous connections made by people that both brings new creations into the world. We’re not going away anything soon, despite the rhetoric from silicon valley, and the most interesting advances are ahead of us. While the technology catches up to doing some things that humans used to do, we’re rediscovering also the truth about what it means to be human.