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the new economy is.....? « Previous | |Next »
April 19, 2006

The new economy--what is it? Is it the digital revolution (ie., fax machines, cellular phones, personal computers, modems, the Internet?) The new class of knowledge workers? The information economy? E-commerce? The dot-com boom, or successful stand-alone Internet businesses such as Google or eBay? Network connections?

map courtesy of Brad DeLong

Is it the spread of capitalism around the world-with the introduction of global market forces into national economies, freer trade, and widespread deregulation? Or the way that digital technology is creating new companies and new industries before our eyes? Or both together?

I begin to have a go here by starting to engage with Yochai Benkler's recently published The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom (Yale University Press). It's an interesting book.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:58 PM | | Comments (2)


Gary - I started on WoN today. It's a hard slog and my first impression was that he could have used a good editor, it's very densely written and a little po-mo I think. But the premise is fascinating so I expect that in about 3 months I'll be able to engage you on it.

Benkler's Wealth of Networks strikes me as working within the tradition of deliberative democracy. In Chapter one he outlines the first step----the rise of the networked public sphere:

The second major implication of the networked information economy is the shift it enables from the mass-mediated public sphere to a networked public sphere. This shift is also based on the increasing freedom individuals enjoy to participate in creating information and knowledge, and the possibilities it presents for a new public sphere to emerge alongside the commercial, mass-media markets. (p.12)

And then the second step--engaging in public debates:
These [new Web] platforms solve some of the basic limitations of the commercial,concentrated mass media as the core platform of the public sphere in contemporary complex democracies. They enable anyone, anywhere, to go through his or her practical life, observing the social environment through new eyes--the eyes of someone who could actually inject a thought, a criticism, or a concern into the public debate. Individuals become less passive, and thus more engaged observers of social spaces that could potentially become subjects for political conversation; they become more engaged participants in the debates about their observations. The various formats of the networked public sphere provide anyone with an outlet to speak, to inquire, to investigate, without need to access the resources of a major media organization. We are seeing the emergence of new, decentralized approaches to fulfilling the watchdog function and to engaging in political debate and
organization. (p.13)

We become active citizens in the public sphere.