Take a look around you. The routine of your life has probably coalesced into an arrangement of things – a computer or phone, a mug of tea, a table, a home. These are the things which make up your life. What defines any of them is not only what they are, but what they are made of. They are, themselves, a series of connections between created objects and molecules that make up your world.
What connects them all together in this moment is you.
While humans tend to see the world as a collection of things, what makes those things what they are, and indeed makes them at all, is how they are connected. What makes you is how you are connected as well – to these things, to other people, and to ideas which inform how you perceived them.
All anything is in this world, from the corporeal to the conceptual, is a series of connections.
This piece is a re-run from over nine years ago, but it has been fleshed out considerably as People’s Economics. The topic at hand is 52 years old, so none of this is new. And yet we still aren’t exactly sure as to how we need to implement this “knowledge economy” in a way that truly benefits everyone. This was part of a series from 2009 entitled “Systemic Connections” and if you have some time the whole series is still worth a read.
The art and skill needed to put knowledge to practical use is more than just what technology is really about – it’s generally seen an increasing share of our economy. The term “Knowledge Economy” comes from Peter Drucker in his 1966 book, “The Age of Discontinuity”. It includes this:
“In a knowledge economy where skill is based on knowledge, and where technology and economy are likely to change fast . . . the only meaningful job security is the capacity to learn fast.”
True enough, since a lot of knowledge applied as an art went to revolutionizing economics itself since that time. But as many of us have learned, the ability to think fast means nothing without the right connections.
I wrote this ten years ago. The financial collapse of 2008 was still six months away and GW Bush was President. Yet big hunks of it are more true now than they were at that time. We have indeed stagnated in the face of “everything is possible” and decided to wallow in our own refusal to make choices on how to move forward. Will this still be relevant in 2028?
When I was young, I lived in a time and place where just about anything was possible. It’s amazing just how terrifying that prospect was.
One of the recurring themes of Barataria is that nearly everything in our life can be evaluated based on how it is connected. This works for analyzing political and economic power, but it also charts the course of ideas and products. If our political system isn’t working properly, Barataria would argue that it isn’t connected properly to the society it purports to govern or to new ideas that will help it to change.
I’ve expounded on the subject in many different ways, sometimes without using the same words, as a way of thinking this out in public. Many of you have responded with insightful comments and a few questions on the side – what is that guy going on about? I’d like to nail this down into a simple, direct statement. This is an old work, about five years old, but it is something I want to revist to help make sense of our changing world.