Monday, January 31, 2011


Back in the dark ages when I was in grad school, right about the time of the dawning of the Glorious And Bountiful Age Of The Internets, there was a lot of talk about how all this new technology would allow for long distance interaction. With plunging long distance call prices (they actually used to cost real money!), and the rise of email and the potential for videoconferencing, none of us would ever have to interact in person again. This would mean that we would all telecommute, the cities would depopulate, business air travel would become practically nonexistent, etc. Obviously things didn't quite work out that way. Someone (Ed Glaeser maybe?) wrote a basic paper pointing out if face-to-face and distance interactions are complements, rather than substitutes, then your conclusions flip, and that all the technology simply reinforces the benefits of personal interactions, whether in consumption or production.

I still don't think we're close to knowing how all of this technology is going to impact things. I know when I overhear the kids talk today they sound a bit like they're coming from another world, and not simply because I'm too old to know who this Bieber dude is.