Theory in a Digital Age: A Project of English 483 Students, Coastal Carolina University

Information Economy

Mason explains in his article “The End of Capitalism Has Begun” that post-capitalism is made possible by information technology in three ways. The first of these is that the need for work has been reduced. The production of machines and automated labor have significantly changed the human workforce in terms of production. Think of car manufacturing. Almost anything that is mass produced has been made "efficient" by reducing human labor and time involved in production. Also due to information technology the line between work and free time is not so clear. Mass amounts of data is produced when people spend time on Facebook, which is then used in algorithms to predict spending habits. This data is collected and sold as a commodity and yet the person involved in creating this "thing" is not thought of as a traditional laborer.

           More and more, our economy is being driven by information. Technology today has generated an abundance of information and it is “corroding the market’s ability to form prices correctly” argues Mason. Business markets, and capitalism more broadly, are based on scarcity where information is profuse. Ideas are being used freely and business models cannot keep up. The DIY movement has created a network, Pinterest, in which you can find free recipes, free printables, etc. all organized and categorized into "boards". The worth of information is difficult to put a number on. Mason points out that “the knowledge content of products is becoming more valuable than the physical things that are used to produce them”. For example, the worth of the iPhone is determined by its knowledge content, its abilities, and not by its cost of production and labor. Thus the value of things becomes based on usefulness not its exchange value.


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