SOME DJURDJEVIC COLUMNS
By Bob Djurdjevic
Will the Internet change your life?
You bet. In fact, for millions of people around the world, it already has. A resurgence of PC's in the 1980s toppled the computer mainframe's dominance. Now, the Internet and the PC - two post-industrial era technological revolutions - are returning Homo Sapiens back to nature. It's the beginning of "Renaissance II." Move over (Albert) Einstein; (Leonardo) Da Vinci is back.
But you won't hear that in America's boardrooms. Just as dinosaurs never foresaw their demise (or else they wouldn't have perished, would they?), the industrial world's leaders are deluding themselves that they are still in the driver's seat.
"The PC revolution was driven by individuals," IBM's chairman, Lou Gerstner, told the world's top information technology consultants at an August 1996 meeting in Toronto, Canada. "Network computing is about... enterprises. Its about transformation of the way institutions do business."
Pardonez moi?! That's like saying MTV is about senior citizens! Or that computer laptops are about preserving mainframes.
The Internet has over 31 million users in the U.S. alone. Only a fraction of them are in the top 500 industrial enterprises, which shed three million jobs in the 1980s. And they will discard at least two million additional employees this decade.
A national disaster? Hardly. In fact, Wall Street is cheering the trend. Corporate efficiency ratios are up as a result of downsizing. And everybody knows that Wall Street loves efficiency.
More importantly, it is good news for the country. Like the trees in a forest, burgeoning economies grow from the roots, not from tree tops. While large corporations are downsizing, America is upsizing. During the 1980s, for example, 21 million new jobs were created, many in the IT industry.
Today, nearly three quarters (73%) of American jobs are in services. The industrials provide less than one out of every five U.S. jobs, according to the latest Department of Labor statistics.
In fact, manufacturing now accounts for an even smaller share of total employment than agriculture did at the last turn of the century. Yet today, less than 2% of Americans feed the rest of us and much of the world. Fifty years from now, less than 2% of Americans may be employed by the industrials we consider "elite" today.
The ubiquitous PC and the Internet have empowered individuals and small companies to compete with giant enterprises on a level playing field. They've become equalizers. Kind of like the invention of gun powder or handguns enabled a little old lady to overpower a giant aggressor. The result is a massive transfer of wealth from industrial incumbents to information technology challengers.
But that's economic Darwinism. It's the stuff that made America great in the first place. Better still, it's the stuff that will return Home Sapiens back to nature.
It is perhaps ironic that the industrial giants have invented the tools of their own destruction while pursuing their main creed - greed. The growth of PC's and Internet sales will spell a demise of their creators.
The industrial era automated the simplest (physical) forms of life; called them SCIENCES; held them in high esteem; and rewarded handsomely its apostles (Albert Einstein, et. al.). It also put down the more complex forms of life - the ARTS.
Now, with the advent of PC's and the Internet, we a (re)fusion of arts and sciences is taking place.
The world's newest profession - the Webmaster - is a case in point. Like the Renaissance artists, the best Webmasters come from liberal arts backgrounds, not necessarily the nerdy engineering colleges.
Unlike their predecessors, whom the industrials treated as mere "starving artists," these Web artists are in high demand - by the industrialists, frantically trying to stave off their own demise! The annual salaries of Webmasters are in the $60,000 to $90,000 range, as compared to an average college graduate's pay of $24,000 per year.
Leonardo Da Vinci would have been pleased...
Picture a CNN reporter sticking a microphone in front of Signor Da Vinci, and asking him: "Sir, do you consider yourself an artist or a scientist?"
What do you think the great Renaissance man's answer would have been?
"Son, I haven't the foggiest idea what you're talking about. What is the difference between artists and scientists?," is my guess.
For additional Bob Djurdjevic columns on geopolitical
subjects (published in The Washington Times, Chronicles
and other publications), visit the Truth in Media Web site
("Index of Djurdjevic's Columns" section).