The ever-thoughtful Paul Krugman has a brief but thought-provoking post at the NYT where he addresses an essay by Bob Gordon (essay here). Krugman agrees with Gordon’s characterization of three industrial revolutions:
- IR #1 (steam, railroads) from 1750 to 1830;
- IR #2 (electricity, internal combustion engine, running water, indoor toilets, communications, entertainment, chemicals, petroleum) from 1870 to 1900; and
- IR #3 (computers, the web, mobile phones) from 1960 to present.
Where the authors disagree is whether the third revolution, the computer revolution, is over. Krugman says “It’s good to have someone questioning the tech euphoria; but I’ve been looking into technology issues a lot lately, and I’m pretty sure he’s wrong, that the IT revolution has only begun to have its impact.”
As someone deeply skeptical of internet exceptionalism (a different issue, but one that sometimes seems rooted in an almost religious faith in the power of the internet), this is something worth thinking about further. I suspect that Krugman is right, and that we are not yet done seeing new disruptions that can cause economic growth.
Cross-posted at Infoglut Tumblr.