Monday, March 2, 2015

#61 / Business & Tech.

A couple of weeks ago, on February 17th, The Wall Street Journal announced a change. Its "Marketplace" section is now going to be called "Business & Tech.

I was a little bit surprised to hear about this name change, since the very term "Wall Street" operates as a shorthand way to refer to the financial markets of the United States, and to the financial sector of the U.S. economy as a whole. "Wall Street," in other words, is a metonym for the financial markets of the United States. That is how Wikipedia puts it. The "Marketplace" name has also been around for twenty-seven years, and I kind of expect The Wall Street Journal to be "conservative," and to maintain a commitment to tradition over trendiness.

Not in this case. "Tech." seems to be triumphing over all our past achievements. "Tech." is where we all seem to be headed. 

As a matter of fact, a book review in the February 17th edition of The Journal commented on this very phenomenon. The review was titled "Go Big or Go Home," with the message being that if you don't get with "Tech." you can pretty much kiss goodbye to any other claim to relevance you may think you have, and just admit that you have no reason, anymore, to go on living.

Bold is the name of the book reviewed, and if you click that link, you will find yourself listening to the "proud co-author of Bold." You will also notice the headline on the Bold website: "To Become a Billionaire, Help a Billion People." As the website puts it, "Technology is democratizing the power to change the world. BOLD spells out how you can spy the opportunities and put your vision into action, blazing a path from mind to market."

And becoming a billionaire in the process, of course!

Color me skeptical. Color me resistant. And you can use the same skeptical paintbrush on Philip Delves Broughton, who wrote the review that appeared in The Journal. Here is the reviewer's bottom line: 

The great lie about so much technology is that it has enabled a more sharing, more democratic age. But too much of the “sharing” that happens online seems to involve people abandoning their livelihoods to the owners of “platforms”—letting the masses be demonetized and dematerialized for the enrichment of a few. Too much of the “democracy” feels like voyeurism or surveillance. The crowd is not just sourcing and funding this new economy; it’s also getting fleeced.

That's what I think, too!

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