Cyberspace: Changing Value and Worth

In high school, especially in subjects like Modern History and Society and Culture, teachers kept trying to explain to me what terms like wealth, finance, economy, and worth meant in a global setting. I struggled to grasp how the Global Financial Crisis actually happened and how the repercussions radiated throughout the global market. While I could see the consequences I couldn’t understand the source. That’s why I am doing Communication and Media Studies; not Commerce.

I understand, in theory, the concept of wealth; but I still think of it as a physical resource. When you are a child you know your wealth because you can count your coins in your piggy bank. I guess I still think like that. In the bank, for me, there is a goblin watching my safe containing my money and I need to bring in my key(card) to access it.

I may have seen Harry Potter to many times, but the point still stands: in today’s technocentric society resources no longer have to be physical to be significant.

“In Third Wave Economy, the central resource — a single word encompassing data, information, images, symbols, culture, ideology, and values — is actionable knowledge.” – Dyson, Gilder, Keysworth and Toffler 1994

Dyson, Gilder, Keysworth and Toffler say that oil, steel and auto-production are the last physical resources, the last sectors of industrialisation that maintain economic value, only because they have learnt to benefit from the “Third Wave economy” and the Age of the Internet. They have a place supporting the explosive growth of cyberspace.

Just as Barlow adieux the “weary giants of flesh and steel” in The Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace we must farewell the limitations of our understandings of ‘resources’. We must extend our understanding beyond the complexities of national wealth to a point where we individually, socially and legally understand the potential value in knowledge.

Concepts of property, expression, identity, movement, and context do not apply to us. They are all based on matter, and there is not matter [in cyberspace].” – Barlow 1996


2 thoughts on “Cyberspace: Changing Value and Worth

  1. As I said on another blog. The commodity of information seems to be the most valuable in today’s society and most definitely in the online world. The sheer volume of information that passes around blows tangible things straight out of the water. However I wouldn’t say that mass production has no place in the current setting. That’s not to say they will last long. The new developments in 3d printing are set to do just as you posted and make all manner of matter based economics null and void once you can download the prints for it and print it for yourself. Sure things will be cheaper but it like to be devastating to industry.

  2. It’s an interesting concept to think about; freeing information from matter has created enormous possibilities for the world! Even this blog is an awesome example of how quickly information flies out to many different users when it isn’t encumbered by clunky things like paper. This new digital economy has really turned money into an abstract concept hasn’t it? It’s almost never necessary, even when buying a paper train ticket, which will be replaced with credit-card-like Opal cards soon enough… Maybe one of the scariest results of the freedom of information from matter is that we cannot know who is looking at the information we generate ourselves, including government or a possible employer! Much to contemplate…

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