The internet may have significantly changed the working patterns of people like you and me, but we are in a tiny minority. For most people, its effect is more about keeping in touch with friends and looking up things here and there. Economists have found very little evidence that since the internet revolution productivity has grown.
By liberating women from household work and helping to abolish professions such as domestic service, the washing machine and other household goods completely revolutionised the structure of society. As women have become active in the labour market they have acquired a different status at home – they can credibly threaten their partners that if they don't treat them well they will leave them and make an independent living. And this had huge economic consequences. Rather than spend their time washing clothes, women could go out and do more productive things. Basically, it has doubled the workforce.
we overestimate the internet and ignore its downsides. There's now so much information out there that you don't actually have time to digest it.
In another chapter of the book, I talk about the American economist Herbert Simon, who argued that our problem now is that we have limited decision-making capability rather than too little information. If you try to find something on the internet, it's a deluge. And in terms of productivity, the internet has its drawbacks – for example, it makes it a lot easier to bunk off work.
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This idea that the internet is driving globalisation has enabled business leaders and politicians to get away with decisions made for their own self-interest, because people have been too ready to accept that things have to be like this.
shared by Ed Webb on 29 Aug 10 - Cached
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