November 26, 2004

THE DEATH OF CAPITALISM? This passage goes well with the Economist article mentioned below:

The first indication came when the falling price of computers crossed the point where the average programmer could afford to own a computer capable of producing the code from which he typically earned his living. This meant that, for the first time since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the ownership of the most critical tool of production in the most critical industry of the world’s leading economy was readily affordable by the individual worker. Throughout the first three decades of the Information Age, the individual worker was still dependent on his employer for his means of production, just as any textile worker in Manchester or Lawrence was in 1840.

Suddenly, this changed. Now it is as if a steelworker could afford his own blast furnace or rolling mill, an automobile worker his own assembly line. By strict Marxist definitions, capitalism ended sometime in the early 1990s. This is a development that has not received adequate attention.

There’s also this, which meshes with some things I’ve written on Web video:

The cost of a facility for Webcasting is far less than the cost of a facility for television broadcasting. At some point in the relatively near future the quality of the webcast will be as good as, if not better than, that of broadcast television, and the cost of a webcasting facility for high-quality production will be within the range of many individuals. Just as the personal computer capable of producing first-rate software is revolutionizing the work relations of software, the personal webcasting facility will change the nature of the broadcasting media. It also changes the dynamics of production.

I think that’s right, and the blogosphere is an early manifestation of this phenomenon.