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These are all Industrial Age economic models, and we are no longer in an Industrial Age.
March 3, 2011 9:27 PM   Subscribe

"New Economy, New Wealth - We are entering a post-industrial age with a very different economy and needs for a different view of wealth. What does this mean for us?" A presentation by Arthur Brock, using Prezi (previously). I recommend viewing it full-screen.
posted by baejoseph (19 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

Hint: Click on "MORE" to make it full screen.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:34 PM on March 3, 2011

Is there supposed to be sound?
posted by LarryC at 10:39 PM on March 3, 2011

I had no sound either.

Head spinning, a bit. Seems like there is no more such a thing as stable landmarks, but rather the vectors themselves are the landmarks and they embody movement without beginning or end, or none that I can discern anyway.

Is this a cult?
posted by Skygazer at 10:59 PM on March 3, 2011

I mean, if wealth becomes a byproduct of an organism outside of corporations and governments, there's going to be some pretty angry corporations and governments that refuse to be part of a paradigm that envisions their obsolescence.

Of course you could say, tough for them, as either they accept the new paradigm or they'll be left by the wayside and I'm all for that, but it would seem they'll do everything in their power to horde the tangible economic pillars (Capital, labor, land) AND the intangibles like INFORMATION.

It is an unsettling paradigm because all identity in such a system seems to become eclipsed in a (pardon the term) META-IDENTITY.

But I do believe this recession, isn't so much that, as it is a transitional period before a new paradigm. But even if the idea of "wealth" is redefined, a lot of the things that enrich people's lives still require being plugged into the standard economic grid, and require standard economic $$$ to facilitate or actualize.
posted by Skygazer at 11:14 PM on March 3, 2011

Like it or not, we live in a physical world, and we absolutely must have shelter, food, clothing, and energy to survive. Since these things are inherently scarce, I believe that wealth will always need to be defined ultimately in these terms.... energy, stuff, and the knowledge to make them more efficiently. To the degree that we try to redefine wealth as being measured in terms of other things, it's to that degree we screw the fundamental physical economy up.

Energy, physical stuff, and knowledge... and, of course, their means of production. That really is what wealth comes down to. Two of those three things are physical, because we are physical creatures. We don't live in an abstract world of ideas, we live in one of calories and temperature gradients.

If we had no such absolute needs, we'd be free to define wealth any way we wanted, since it wouldn't matter what was being produced. But we do, and thus tread on dangerous ground when we move away from that reality.
posted by Malor at 11:28 PM on March 3, 2011 [10 favorites]

We don't live in an abstract world of ideas,

Sure we do. We live in a world of ideas that have been actualized and made real in the world where calories and temperature gradients are managed, maintained with greater ease for a greater and greater amount of people, and probably, eventually can even be made negligible byproducts of even greater acts and actualizations of creative imagination and brain power, again, all derived from abstract ideas.

Even after we're gone ideas and actualizations and invocations of imaginative knowledge and technology is still present and still producing value.

If we had no such absolute needs, we'd be free to define wealth any way we wanted, since it wouldn't matter what was being produced. But we do, and thus tread on dangerous ground when we move away from that reality.

Yes, institutions, corporations, governments do not go gently into that good night, when they refuse to adapt and evolve, through ignorance or a necrotic ideological structure. That brings us back to the physical world, and the ideas and imaginative actualizations that define it and shape it.

If organizations can't live in a world of abstract ideas and have the systems in place to bring those ideas to bear as survival mechanisms, they're doomed.
posted by Skygazer at 12:27 AM on March 4, 2011

That being said, yeah I doubted that any company or person will ever want for anything if they hold enough stake in energy, food, land, houses and the capital that buys those things or that can be derived from them etc...

But they're definitely not going to be the next Google, which because it deals in something so pervasive touches all those areas (energy, food, land etc..) yet isn't solely directly dependent or limited to any of those areas.
posted by Skygazer at 12:33 AM on March 4, 2011

Seriously, though--sound or not?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:00 AM on March 4, 2011

No sound.
posted by lemuring at 2:06 AM on March 4, 2011

The future of wealth is that fewer and fewer people will have any.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:15 AM on March 4, 2011 [3 favorites]

Unlike staid, old-world pictures and text, vector graphics can make things appear grow very rapidly to fill your whole screen. Or suddenly disappear - all without apparent cause (actually you can invent your own cause - we don't want to be over-prescriptive). Vectors images come in very many different shapes and colours - so many that our eyes will be delighted and our hearing will (apparently) become vestigial. Really it is all just like economics; especially the economics of the future!
posted by rongorongo at 3:17 AM on March 4, 2011

Seriously, though--sound or not?

Not sound at all. In 1999, "new economy" post-scarcity hype was driven by people getting understandably over-excited about all this new technology and its increasingly evident social effects. In 2011, it looks more like wishful thinking and desperation to find something that can replace the old "industrial age" economy as it becomes increasingly evident that it's in for a long-term decline.
posted by sfenders at 4:24 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

"and we are no longer in an Industrial Age."

I'd like to ask the people who assembled the laptop I'm watching this glorified PowerPoint on if we are living in an industrial age. Or perhaps whether their economic concerns have anything to do with scarcity. (Or perhaps we could have a chat with the people digging the stuff that went into its basic components out of the ground.)

I'm fascinated by gift economies, and by the kinds of sharing enabled by all of this communication apparatus. I'm a shoeless free software hippie with periodic anarchist sympathies. There is plenty to be said for re-evaluating how we understand and approach concepts like "wealth" and how we go about exchanging value here in the privileged part of the world where I can buy a nice laptop on which to kill some time on MetaFilter before I go in to my cushy technology job and think about systems. But there sure is a lot of glib horseshit floating around about the nature of the system that enables all of this.

(Don't get me wrong, it's visually neat and there are some interesting ideas mixed in, so I'm glad I took the time. I just think the premises need some serious scrutiny.)
posted by brennen at 4:47 AM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

There's an episode of Star Trek in which Kirk states that they no longer use money in the 23rd century -- that it's obsolete. Which got me to thinking about how an economy like that might work in a modern, technological age. Seriously, has anyone ever tried to design an economy -- fictional or otherwise -- where 'money' does not enter the equation? Or is it even possible? I understand that, if you paid the doctor in chickens, then chickens are the 'money'. But even though you're using them as tokens of exchange, you're still calling them chickens, not money, and eating them, not putting them in the bank.

Or, on the other hand, is that precisely the economy we have right now, (one where money no longer really exists.), since there is no gold or whatever to back up those digits flying off my credit card? Maybe the 'credits' they refer to in Science Fiction are just that, tokens of exchange for labor of one sort or another.
posted by jabah at 7:09 AM on March 4, 2011

There's an episode of Star Trek in which Kirk states that they no longer use money in the 23rd century -- that it's obsolete.

Yeah, the Federation in Star Trek is actually a Marxist communist military government thingie. I'm sure Roddenberry has some writing out there on this, somewhere. He was writing in the 60s, of course. Although, given that they can create food out of thin air and travel the stars, and the #1 danger is weapons of mass destruction and evil/godlike aliens, it makes sense I suppose.
posted by mek at 8:28 AM on March 4, 2011

So, according to this we're still in the Religio-archic paradigm, right? That's the one where the witch doctor -- excuse me, the Economist has exclusive rights to make their living advising populations about the economic future, without reference to either the laws of physics or the realities of our biological existence on this planet*?

*Still the only habitable planet in this sector.
posted by sneebler at 9:59 AM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

Star Trek isn't even really so much about Marxism or anything like that. The point of Star Trek is that they're essentially beyond scarcity, as emphasized in TNG (Roddenberry probably had most of the ideas in TOS, but they weren't really shown onscreen consistently, and replicators didn't exist yet). They have an engine that can pretty much produce more energy than they'll ever need, and they have a replicator that can supply them with as much food, objects and water as they'd ever want. I don't remember if the replicator worked by taking energy from the engine or just stringing together a bunch of atoms, but my point stands. Their economy is based not on people working to survive or attain wealth as we know it, but on people "living out their potential."

What's interesting is that in Voyager, scarcity does become an issue again, as they're a ship stranded in space that can't really go back home for repairs/supplies for things that are presumably plentifully made on Earth but hard to find away from Federation planets. Characters are rationed credits for using the replicators, and they end up gambling those credits in games of poker.

Marxism is more about having a command economy, which means, at least in the day it was written, that resources are scarce and the government should actively fight to distribute them somewhat equally.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:35 AM on March 4, 2011

On reflection on this horrible derail, I think the ST government probably more closely resembles conemporary China - a technocrat dictatorship with an arm's length military and vaguely communist flavour. You're right in that potential and self-actualization (again 60s!) are major tropes in their post-scarcity world, but there is definitely still a command economy for all sorts of specialty materials which they are very much still dependent on (trilithium, various technologies, etc). The Federation are tight managers and a lot of TNG plots involve negotiating border and trade disputes and preventing restricted tech from being improperly distributed. Once a civilization enters the Fed they lose a lot of autonomy (touched on in many eps) in exchange for the tech which provides a post-scarcity economy.
posted by mek at 11:03 AM on March 4, 2011


It's an OK presentation of ideas (at least, if they're familiar ideas), but I would have preferred a textual approach. He does have a website with video, blog, and links to projects, but I wish it was all a little less fluffy.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:14 PM on March 4, 2011

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