he internet, the world wide data connection that has caught on like a wild fire sweeping through a parched California forest, has wide ranging implications on our world economy. Locally, we have witnessed staggering swings of fortune in more ?dot-com? firms than any other form of business in American history. The old adage of that ?American Dream? – starting a business in the garage to see it one day be listed on the stock exchange is truer now than at any other time in our short history as well.
While many still feel that the internet is simply a ?fad? that will fade out as consumers tire of on-line shopping, most are resigned to the fact that the computer age is finally found a foothold into the masses ? a true consumer product as inseparable in the modern household as the television and telephone. The fact that it isn’t being called the ?telenet? may be more a matter of poor timing than a marketing gaffe.
As the data-stream (?bandwidth? in internet parlance) becomes more efficient ? read that as ?fast,? other uses of the internet will boom. No longer will the internet be just for buying and selling merchandise, chatting with friends and family, or gaining insight into the latest sexual technique, but will become a truly real-time and practical ?multi-media? tool. Video data, currently suited only for the occasional voyeuristic views with choppy, grainy images reminiscent of our parents/grandparents 8mm movies, will one day (soon, I predict) become a window to the world. The video phone ? a product most of us in my age group thought would have become reality long before now – will finally become commonplace. With video, audio and other input devices at one’s disposal, doctor’s will again make ?house calls,? and visits to far off friends and relatives will nearly suffice for the real thing (a rekindling of the infamous ?smell-o-vision? system to transmit the aroma of Grandma’s fresh apple pie baking in the oven, perhaps?). The uses are nearly as endless as ones imagination, and is a field where current state-of-the-art has only touched the surface of what can and will be achieved over a very short period of time.
So what does all this high tech wizardry have to do with the economy? Just about everything, actually. Already governments across the globe are clamoring to be the first to find a practical method of taxation into this new world wide interchange system. Hopefully, the Genie has long since been out of the bottle on that one? Shopping malls, already feeling the effects of internet commerce, may be forced to radically change their business structure or face certain failure. The parcel delivery systems are feeling the effects as well as a dramatic increase of flow is being realized directly through internet sales. As fuel prices continue to climb, video conferencing, once reserved for the well-healed companies will make sense for even the smallest of companies.
The ramifications of the internet are wide ranging and will certainly impact nearly every human being on the face of this planet. What a marvelous time to be living in to see one of the single biggest technological advances come to fruition. While the telephone made the world a much smaller place to live in, the internet has taken the meaning of distance out of the equation completely.
The economy? It’s the internet, stupid?