Class warfare in the information age

jeradonah jeradonah at
Mon Aug 28 12:46:08 PDT 2000

On Sat, 26 Aug 2000 01:36:46 -0700 (PDT), Chuck Grimes <cgrimes at> quotes from Michael Perelman's, Class Warfare in the Information Age:
> ``Despite all the talk of an information economy, most economists
> have failed to recognize how much the ground has been changing
> under their feet.

i think this is true. part of this is because the emergence of the digital economy represents not only the bifurcation of the economy but also a "paradigm shift"/"tectonic shift"/change in "worldview."

the bifurcation of the economy, one part in which classical rules such as diminishing returns still apply and the other which seems to be governed by a different set (such as increasing returns), is at odds with the traditional view that the american economy is a unified economy, and i don't believe that it is (unified). we see a boom in the high tech sector but a depression in the agricultural sector. (what is the keynesian approach to this?) in the mid 80s, we saw another boom in the high tech sector while the traditional manufacturing sector was ossifying. we have accustomed ourselves to look at the aggregate, but doing so overlooks many of the interesting happening in the economy...

> In addressing the information revolution, we
> will see that economic theory suffers from the same sort of
> confusions that are implicit in the misleading metaphor of the
> information superhighway, which suggests that information is
> trucked about like so much soap or canned soup.

problematic given the linear thinking that was inherent from the past...

> ``I can not emphasize this point enough: The concept of scarcity
> is absolutely irrelevant to information. The more we restrict
> other people's access to information, the less we are able to
> utilize information for our own use. Economics, which economists
> themselves define as the allocation of scarce resources, has
> little to offer in an information economy, since information is
> not scarce, except to the degree that we allow agents to create
> artificial scarcity through secrecy and property rights. More to
> the point, as our economy becomes increasingly dependent on
> information, our traditional system of property rights applied to
> information becomes a costly fetter on our development'' (87p)

which -- i would think -- would make for a natural alliance with the "geeks," who not only believe that information wants to be free, but who actively pursue the liberation of information from its various prisons...

> In several sections after a lack of scarcity, Michael P adds,
> information is also not rivalrous and has a marginal cost of zero.

which is another way of saying "free"...


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