Rethinking the information economy

The information economy has been most successful in the more urban parts of our country. That’s where you find large population density, the opportunity to assemble teams with complementary expertise, and an ability to find the resources needed to pivot rapidly as markets evolve.

But what if we redefine knowledge work? Suppose there were a kind of economic value creation that functions particularly well in rural environments? After all, those are places where housing costs tend to be low, community cohesiveness is high, and where people who work at a profession tend to be in it for the long haul. These are very attractive qualities in a workforce.

There was a time when that wouldn’t have been practical, simply because of the cost of technology per worker. In places with low population density, it can be hard to amortize such costs through the use of centralized resources. But that time may be past.

Today you can buy a perfectly functional Android tablet for $50 in the U.S. With proper government incentives to promote rural economic growth, that cost could drop down to zero.

Note that I’m not talking here about a government hand-out. Rather, I’m talking about tax breaks for people who are earning a living. If that sort of deal is good enough for a certain president-elect, it’s good enough for other hard working Americans.

But for such an industry to be inherently stable, there would need to be a good reason why such knowledge work couldn’t just be out-sourced to India or China. I have some ideas about that.

More tomorrow.

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