The Death of Distance

In a special issue on "The Death of Distance," The Economist promises that "The revolution begins, at last":

"The demise of distance as the key to the cost of communication may well prove the most significant economic force shaping the next half century.... This has been predicted before; the difference now is that it is actually starting to happen....

"The key change, in the words of Al Gore, America's vice-president, will be that 'Time zones, not cost, will become the biggest barrier to keeping in touch'. It will become possible to site any screen-based activity anywhere; and to tap into all sorts of information and advice -- from crop prices to university courses to medical help -- from anywhere in the world." (15; additional resources from special issue are available at The Economist's web site).

Such a view is corroborated by U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich's views on the development of a new type of service worker, the symbolic analyst, whose primary job function is to abstract information in symbolic form, and manipulate those symbols in ways that construct new, useful connections within markets of nearly any sort. Symbolic-analytic workers are essentially information brokers. As Reich notes, because these workers can conduct much of their business through telecommunication links (voice phone, fax, Internet connection), national boundaries -- space -- are less of an issue.

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