A few days ago, I had to meet my wife at the airport. I was early (unheard of), and the flight was late (what else is new). I bought an International Herald Tribune and had coffee and a pastry while I read the paper. A feeling of bittersweet nostalgia overcame me. The morning papers and coffee used to be one of the good times every day. This was the first time I sat and read a newspaper in well over a year. Thus, the inspiration for this first blog for Amateur Economists.
Life has changed dramatically with the advent of the digital age, or digital lifestyle. I always read two newspapers a day, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. It was a ritual. It is gone, but I am still informed, probably better than ever before. The computer and the Net now provide the “information fix.” At the same time, it is also possible to work, speak with and see friends and colleagues, or learn virtually anything we want, from mathematics to playing the piano, on the Net.
It was probably Steve Jobs that coined the phrase “digital lifestyle” to describe what Apple was trying to do. Everything had to interface with everything else: our computer, our cell phone, our portable music device, our television, and our shopping for entertainment at iTunes. WiFi, broadband, even how we get from place to place has been integrated into the digital age. Our cars and now our cell phones have GPS plus a camera and an Internet connection. How soon will our cell phone tell us in the supermarket that the canned peas are two isles to the right?
I work from home via the Internet. I get my news, information, even do research using the Internet. Can the Internet even be the solution (at least part of it) to the energy problem? I use a car very little because I do not commute. I am beginning to shop locally rather than go to a shopping mall. I actually walk to buy groceries and go to the pharmacy. This is not because I am trying to save gas; it is easier, more efficient, healthier and less stressful. I have never been in my employers’ offices, which are thousands of miles from me. Amateur Economists is literally headquartered on the other side of the world. Many of my friends are also virtual.
This blog spot is about how our lives have changed and what you see coming as a result of the digital lifestyle of the 21st century. What will happen to the huge office buildings of central cities? How will working from home change our lifestyles and affect our children? How will this affect our local communities? What will happen to the mega shopping malls in the future? Is the digital lifestyle actually part of the solution to the energy crisis? This is a place to share your thoughts and insights. The 20th century saw the beginning of the industrial age and the development of the auto, which profoundly changed our lives. The driver of the 21st century is digital. Will the change be as profound? Will it be better or worse than the changes of the last century? What do you think?