Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Mon Jun 29th 2009 at 11:02am UTC

The Real New Economy is Yours

Tyler Cowen outlines some themes of his new book, Create Your Own Economy, in Fast Company.

In a typical day, I might write two tweets, peruse 15 blogs (Jason Kottke and Penelope Trunk are two must-reads), and watch James Brown dance on YouTube. If it’s a really fun day, I’ll read more blogs, scour the Web for movie reviews, browse eBay, Google myself, and spend more time on Twitter. None of this costs me a penny, and yet I am producing plenty – namely, my own interest and amusement.

More and more, “production” – that word my fellow economists have worked over for generations – has become interior to the human mind rather than set on a factory floor. A tweet may not look like much, but its value lies in the mental dimension. You use Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and other Web services to construct a complex meld of stories, images, and feelings in your mind. No single bit seems weighty on its own, but the resulting blend is rich in joy, emotion, and suspense. This is a new form of drama, and it plays out inside us – with technological assistance – rather than on a public stage.

Online, you can literally create your own economy. By that, I mean you can build an ordered set of opportunities for prosperity and pleasure, analogous to a traditional economy but held in your head. There is no obvious monetary transaction, but you’re using your limited resources to get a better deal – the very essence of economics. In fact, “economics” comes from oikonomia, the ancient Greek word for household management, and the modern practice of economics is returning to that idea.

More here.

His day sounds a lot like mine, though on the best of them I’d find time for a road ride. His argument makes a lot of sense.

8 Responses to “The Real New Economy is Yours”

  1. Outdoorsman Says:

    Sounds rather dull to me… unless its the middle of the winter or 3 a.m.

  2. Buzzcut Says:

    What’s interesting is that, for all the “personal economic value” of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. none of them is a going economic concern. None can even pay for their own servers via revenue generated by their sites.

    How long with News Corp subsidize MySpace?

    The latest Wired has an article on how Facebook expects to make money. I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.

  3. NIkolai Kondratieff Says:

    Sounds like a waste of a lot of brain power and electrons, frankly.

    YouTube will never make money for GOOG, and FB will struggle to make money, while its ecosystem partners (who actually have the content people want) have found a way to monetize all the eyeballs. MySpace will flatline soon enough.

  4. Creative Class » Blog Archive » The Real New Economy is Yours … Says:

    [...] See the original post here:  Creative Class » Blog Archive » The Real New Economy is Yours … [...]

  5. Hayden fisher Says:

    I like it, and it does lead to business development too, clearly. But the cultural impact is most obvious in the present tense.

  6. Buzzcut Says:

    Facebook lost half a billion dollars last year. If it were a bank, it would be getting a bailout.

    I use Facebook, it’s a cool website, but you would think that if there were so many “social benefits”, we’d be willing to pay for it in some way.

  7. jordan Says:

    but the author makes a crucial misstep in this argument: he seems to presuppose that “the value of the mental dimension” can only be [or best be] unlocked by “twitter, facebook, myspace, and other web services”. are we seriously to believe that experience “rich in joy, emotion and suspense” exists nowhere else – or nowhere better – than online?

    of course not – and i can’t believe that the author actually believes this (assuming, of course, that he has experienced joy, emotion, and suspense elsewhere in life). life – that is, real life – is filled with these sorts of experiences without relying upon technology. an argument that life will somehow be better (as in MORE joy, MORE emotion, MORE suspense) as a result of web services is wholly disconnected from reality. this quote seems deluded: why hail it as a new (and desirable) future?

  8. jordan Says:

    most importantly, do we want to be part of a society composed of individuals dependent on web services to derive “joy, emotion, and suspense”? shouldn’t the counter response be the widespread encouragement of self-sustaining techniques like meditation? and does the existence of an online world somehow overpower or conflict with walking outside on a sunny day, falling in love, and laughing (face to face) with (real) friends?