Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Internet and capitalism

Many of us complain about the unfairness of our economy, especially the tax system. There’s a popular perception that the biggest companies and richest people pay little or no tax, and the burden is shouldered by those in the middle.

The ideal vision of many is a society where the rich pay most all the costs of society and the burden trails off to zero as one moves into the middle class, while benefits rise. The poor would actually get support from society.

And how likely is that to happen, with giant companies, lobbyists, and our government of special interests? Yesterday I realized it IS happening online. Doesn’t the Internet work that way?

As the Internet has evolved, it has become more democratic. In most of the United States, individuals can get free or very inexpensive access. And how is that supported? By larger corporations who paid the big money to build and run the backbones.

Today, those large corporations are building networks as fast as they can, and they will bring cheap access to more and more people worldwide.

The same thing has happened with web applications. Big companies spend millions to develop software, but simple versions of those tools are available to individuals for free, or nearly so. Look at Blogger . . . it’s a great example. As is Gmail and all the other free services one can find online.

All those services were built by and are supported by large users – the “rich people” of cyberspace.

There are some, like Microsoft, who want to charge money for most everything. But what about all the other huge companies whose wares are available to the individual for free or nearly so? Those companies seem to be thriving with support from the richer denizens of the net, and their model is becoming more and more dominant.

The concept of the Internet as a bunch of fee-based sites seems to be fading. More and more is free, even from organizations like the NY Times and major magazines. The percentage of "paid subscriber" content seems to be shrinking.

We do have our problems with spam, porn, viruses and the like, but overall, the Internet seems to govern itself pretty well. Why can’t government achieve a similar result? I think the answer is government itself. But anarchy isn’t the answer either. The Internet is not anarchy. It’s something else.

Is there a lesson for our country in the way the Internet runs?

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And on other fronts . . . Look Me in the Eye seems to be on sale in the UK. Do we have any Brits on the blog yet?

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And there's more . . .

I now have an author page on www.redroom.com. It's here: http://www.redroom.com/author/john-elder-robison

I'm still filling it out but it's a start.

And I have also added sports photos to my online gallery. You can see the main gallery here:
http://www.pbase.com/robisonphoto

And the college sports here:
http://www.pbase.com/robisonphoto/basketball

5 comments:

Wendy Roberts said...

Interesting post. I wish I had a crystal ball to see where the internet is heading!

I've just been sent to red room by Susan Wiggs. It's a great site!

Michelle O'Neil said...

Yes John, the internet is a fantastic miracle! Good to think about that and appreciate it.

Your Red Room page looks great!

Lisa said...

The internet and even blogging seems to be having a major impact on our culture. Can the government adapt and learn some lessons from this? Change is always slow, but this week I'm inclined to be humming and thinking...yes we can. :)

Jill Elaine Hughes said...

Great post, John. I agree with your assessment on the Internet. And I'll give an example of how democratic it can be. Last week, my latest novel (out in ebook form only right now; print isn't due until Sept) was promoted on an ebook-review site right next to Stephen King's latest, Duma Key (which is also available in ebook form). Which is pretty wild. I had nothing to do with it---it just sort of happened. I think that sort of thing will happen online more and more to help level the playing field for up-and-coming authors (and musicians, and artists, etc.)

Holly Kennedy said...

Great post re: the internet.

Every day I consider how accessible it has allowed me to be as an author and I shake my head. Like Wendy, I'd be interested in peering ahead a decade to see how it continues evolving.

P.S. Isn't the Red Room a great venue for writers? I joined last week and just got my page filled in a few days ago.

Woof!