The network economy is founded on technology...

...but can only be built on relationships. It starts with chips and ends with trust.

Ultimately the worth of a technology is judged by how well it facilitates an increase in relational activity. VR pioneer Jaron Lanier has proposed the Connection Test: Does a technology in question connect people together? By his evaluation telephones are good technology, while TV is not. Birth control pills are, while nuclear power is not.

By this measure, network technology is a great deal. It has the potential to link together all kinds of sentient beings in every imaginable way, and more. The imperative of the network economy is to maximize the unique talents of individual beings by means of their relationships with many others.

That means not being connected at times. Silence is often an appropriate response in a conversation. Privacy is often advantageous in a networked world. The dimensions of relationship extend into not knowing as well as into the known. It is one of many mysteries in the human condition that will be wired into the technologies of the network economy.



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This is a blog version of a book of mine first published in 1998. I am re-issuing it (two posts per week) unaltered on its 10th anniversary. Comments welcomed. More details here.
-- KK