Someone has to pay for those cheap Internet services. I guess it’s us.
Goods and services are getting cheaper. Many are free. Blame it on the Internet and globalization. The upside is that businesses can create new business models where costs are minimal, as Chris Anderson explains in Free: The Future of a Radical Price. The downside is that our brain chemistry is wired by evolution to love a deal. We love to consume, as Ellen Ruppel Shell writes in Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture.
In an age where we can go only a few minutes without staring at a computer screen (smartphones included), it is fair to ask what it is we are consuming. The answer is: Time and information.
Continue reading “The illusion of free”
In our era the machines are advancing. But we humans still need work.
Look around. You are driving to a parking lot, walking into tilt-up concrete buildings to buy stuff imported from China, making small talk with the cashier while checking your phone.
You are on-line at work, at home, at the gym, on the move. Like Xerox once, Google is now a verb. So is Facebook. When Jeff Bezos says “drones,” you had better duck. Netflix after supper.
This digital world is convenient and entertaining, and it often seems free or at least cheap–though it’s not. The data miners are cashing in. Machines and software are getting smarter. Algorithms are evolving, almost like life forms. Continue reading “2016: Year of the Human”
Technology is a nice place to visit, but do you want to live there?
The airplane stops. Everyone turns on their smartphone. There is a lot of Facebook. A man passes my wife’s bag from the overhead storage. “Thanks,” I say. “How is your day going?” Suddenly he looks suspicious. “Why do you ask?” he says, his eyes narrowing.
We have a brief chat. I can tell he isn’t used to speaking to people on airplanes. Entering the terminal, most people are staring at their phones. Inside, almost everyone is. Few people are talking to each other. Social now means media, not chatting to the person beside you.
This is the new normal. Everywhere a laptop, a tablet, a smart phone. All the pretty pictures, clever videos, smart websites. Check social media and see your friends smiling on a mountaintop. Their life is wonderful, and yours should be too. Continue reading “The price of perfect: The mythology of the digital age”