e-Talk Radio: Rubin, Howard, 12 September 2000

[article]
Rebroadcast 24 October 2000

call the cybergeography. I mean, you can envision the earth as sort of surrounded by this cyber layer of electronic connections through which commerce and people speak. And the real issue right now is how the world is essentially connected. If we were talking about oil, we would know to look to the Middle East a whole lot. If we were looking at gold deposits, and also Alaska of course, for gold deposits or other precious minerals or diamonds, we'd look toward South Africa.

But what if we're starting to look for new sources of technology labor, or trying to understand where you have the telecommunications bandwidth you need, or you try to understand who are countries' electronic trading partners versus regional or physical trading partners. That's what I mean about cybergeography. It has to do now with literally recharting the map of e-space or cyberspace.

Carol: And what I'm hearing you say, it sounds like it pervades much beyond what would be just generally thought of as Internet-type communications, that we're talking about, it sounds like, telecommunications, we're talking about the labor, shifting of labor, who develops the software, who has the intellectual intelligence. Sounds like all of that might be within what you're talking about.

Howard: Right, exactly. And the real issue is, if you look at the competitiveness of nations today, or actually go back in time, you go back in time and you go to some sort of agricultural age, where agriculture rules, and you basically look at the issues of who can produce the most food sources and things like that per nation. That's always been important. Then you get to the industrial age, and the success of nations wasn't just determined by their fertile land and their ability to grow things. Transportation became very important as things crossed local or regional or national boundaries. And the success of nations in the industrial age had to do with their basic industrial infrastructure, which are harbors and highways and rail transport and all sorts of other ways of moving things around.

So if you look at an industrial age nation, how would you know if they're successful, well they were able to transport natural resources, turn it into products. They had a good system of harbors and highways and railroads and airports and other things. And they had the sources of labor to make use of it. Now, when you look at sort of beyond the information age, to the network age, the issue you have to deal with in terms of nations is a bit different. The success of nations is going to be determined by their digital infrastructure, their technology work force, their ability to turn concepts into products quickly. Not just physical natural resources, but in fact intellectual capital and the ability to mine that. And this even transcends the Internet, because we are looking at things like labor and economic dynamism and a whole bunch of other features.

So as we sort of move from industrial to information to network age, in fact, you know every schoolkid has seen various kinds of relief maps and things of the planet, and on the news every day you see sort of maps of the weather systems and things from satellites, but no one has a view of the earth, of how literally to mine and where are the intellectual resources, the people resources, and even the network resources that are the basic ingredients of success now.

Carol: And one of the things that I've seen is that for the Internet, it brings us a

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