Saturday, June 11, 2011

Why The Internet Isn't Like The Rest Of The World:

It's still new. Here's Groupon's founder about the seeming obviousness of the idea of social media + coupons:
"In music, which was my world before, you've got thousands and thousands of years of great ideas that have already been thought of. But the internet is basically 20 years old. So you can be way stupider and still have world-changing ideas. So yes, it is simple." He laughs. "It's ridiculously, enormously simple. It's still a gold rush. Any hick can show up and find a nugget."

This may explain part of the whole great stagnation thesis: the rest of the economy has been conquered by specialists, and specialists require a vast process of knowledge and credentialism to undergo the alchemy from generalists to specialist. That's not necessarily bad--scientists, say, need a lot of knowledge in order to get to a position in which they can actually find out about something new--but it does mean that gathering new knowledge will be a more tedious process. (Whereas, in the past, important math and science ideas could be discovered by gifted amateurs: Benjamin Franklin and Leibniz poured the foundation for much of math and science and for them math and science was kind of a hobby. The only realm where you see someone's hobby turning into vast cash these days tends to be the internet. Perhaps the lesson is that hobbies are more likely to create large sources of wealth than one's job.)

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