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

[article]
Rebroadcast 24 October 2000

of as being able to make these leaps, are really in some cases on our back doorstep, in terms of competitiveness.

Howard: Yeah, an actually amazing thing is, you heard one of my speeches. When you speak to a U.S. audience and you ask a question like, "Which nation has the most computers per person in the world?" And when you use computers per person as the metric, it turns out to be the United States. Then you ask…and that's the correct answer…then you ask, "Which country has the most computer power per person?" And again, it turns out to be the United States. Now you take a game show and you make it "Who Wants to be an E-Millionaire?" and you start to ask some other questions. You start to ask questions such as, "Which country has the most number of Internet hosts per capita?" And kaboom, the answer that would jump out at you is the U.S. Well, up until last year, the answer to that was Finland. The U.S. has finally moved a little bit ahead. They've actually caught up with Finland, believe it or not. You start asking about communications in countries, in terms of telephone lines or bandwidth per population, you look at cellular phones per unit of population, and it turns out you're talking about countries like Norway or Switzerland, Sweden, and other places. Even when you look at who has the lowest telecommunications cost in the world, at one time that was Brazil, another time it's the U.S., and right now it's the Philippines. As a matter of fact, if you ask the question now, "Which country has the highest percentage of their work force in knowledge jobs?" The answer right now is the Philippines. As a matter of fact, I believe if you are an AOL user and you contact an AOL help desk or, there are aspects of the …….. right now, and you're looking for assistance in their call center, when you're dialing that number, you're actually going out to the Philippines. So the whole basic notion that people have of cybergeography, the earth in terms of these kinds of parameters, just doesn't match the reality. And that's even true in the United States in terms of trying to understand, you're going into market and doing things with e-commerce, it turns out the state of Alaska has the highest density, the highest percent of the population online. It's Alaska, of all places.

Carol: And I don't know if we have any Alaskan listeners, but I've heard people say that there's not much else to do all winter.

Howard: Well, the interesting thing is when you study cybergeography, the lessons to be learned. If you look at the greatest number of Internet hosts per person, that was Finland. The greatest percent of population online in the States was Alaska. So I tell people, "Think cold. Think the Internet." That's literally it.

Carol: And it's not hockey.

Howard: No, it's not hockey.

In talking about today's measures of economy, the types of things like the Gross National Product, that type of thing, I think I've heard you say that they're inadequate for this new cyber-economy.

Howard: Right. In terms of, if you're trying to develop an index that shows you the strength of a nation today, or the future strength of a nation, if you're looking to make investments or place your corporation, or whatever you're trying to do on a global basis…GDP, GNP, those are measures that really came out of the Industrial Era. In fact, if you want to look

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