Consumerism · Critics · Internet · Knowledge Society · Technology · Theory · Web 2.0

The Knowledge Economy

So Dave and I have been having many conversations about the current state of crisis in the global economy. The key crises happening right now as I see it are:

1) The bankruptcy of America… creditors are getting antsy, investors of the US economy are pulling out. It seems that the world is waking up to the fact that the US is a economic black hole… resources go in but only second rate culture comes out. Yesterday, the Loonie surpassed the American dollar and the governments of 2 Middle Eastern Countries gained control of the London and American Stock Markets. Dave has written more on it if it’s something that you would like to inform yourself about.

2) The nervousness about outsourcing… Lead paint in our China sweatshop toys; e-coli in our bagged leafy food; the ecological footprints from an ineffective global trade system… Consumers are now making considered choices in the products they buy and are using the Internet to gather more information to guide those considered choices.

3) The lack of faith in traditional institutions… like government and media and the big corporation. The flow of de-regulated information that has washed over us in the last 20 years has dragged in with it a foamy film of cynicism and distrust. The more we read, the more it stinks.

4) The huge gaps between the rich and poor… this has always been a strain on society, but coupled with the rest, makes instability inevitable and almost predictable.

With these issues in mind, we got to waxing on what we thought an ideal economy might look like. We can call it a Knowledge Economy, so long as you don’t place anyone else’s paradigms around it…

In order for this system of Western society to continue on in a form that somewhat resembles the one we’ve grown accustomed to, there needs to be an injection of institutional trust. We need to be able to believe that things are okay again, that our governments and journalists and economy are working for us, rather than the other way around. We need the systems to correspond with our lives, but the only way that this can happen is if the systems come down to our level.

It’s all about the grassroots baby.

Top-down models are ineffective and wasteful. And as more people step out of the pyramid, the shakier the whole structure becomes. The system is reflexive, but it is a system of reflexive consumers.

The notion of the “prosumer” becomes more important as user-generated content, and vernacular culture grows stronger. In vernacular culture (or locally-exchanged culture) the prosumers get that little added value of community recognition, or community fame… something that is priceless in this reality-tv obsessed culture that we find ourselves in. Where the reward for the consumer is external, the reward for the prosumer is internal.

Right now there is a disconnect, perhaps a power struggle, between the grassroots and the institutions that govern their existence. There needs to be more transparency and more needs to be given back. There needs to be real reciprocity, not just the appearance of it. In order for Western Society to weather this one out, there must be compromise between the two.

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3 thoughts on “The Knowledge Economy

  1. Things will never be OK because nobody has the discipline to adapt to the way things should be. We live in a world of illegal downloading and instant gratification. Nobody will give that up until there is a complete breakdown. Why do people keep smoking when they know that eventually it will kill them? People are stupid and if the effects are immediately catastrophic, they will pay no heed.

    Evolutionary Socialism is where it is at. I thought I just made that up, but Google tells me otherwise. My ideas are probably better 🙂

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