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Who Will Become Wealthy in the Information Age?
As you know, we're now well and truly in theInformation Age. It began about 10 years ago. In fact,many economists say it began in 1989, with the Fall ofthe Berlin Wall (and the start of the World Wide Web).
To understand who will become wealthy in theInformation Age, first we need to understand how theInformation Age differs from the Industrial Age (bornabout 1860, died about 1989).
In fact, let's get a complete overview and go back tothe Agrarian Age.
In the Agrarian Age, society was basically dividedinto two classes: the landowners and the people whoworked on the land (the serfs). If you were a serf,there wasn't much you could do about it:land-ownership passed down through families and youwere stuck with the status you were born into.
When the Industrial Age arrived, everything changed:it was no longer agriculture that generated most ofthe wealth, but manufacturing. Suddenly, land was nolonger the key to wealth. A factory occupied far lessland than a sheep farm or a wheat farm.
With the Industrial Age came a new kind of wealthyperson: the self-made businessman. Wealth no longerdepended on land-ownership and the family you wereborn into. Business acumen and factories were creatinga new class of wealthy person. But it still requiredenormous capital to build a factory and start abusiness.
Then came the World Wide Web (in about 1989) andglobalization. Suddenly, everything changed again.
Factories (or real estate) were no longer necessary torun a business. Anyone with a website could start abusiness. The barriers to wealth that existed in theAgrarian Age and the Industrial Age were completelygone. People who could never have dreamed of owningtheir own business were making millions from theirkitchen table.
Of course, the Information Revolution didn't beginin 1989.
It began in 1444 when Gutenberg invented the printingpress in Mainz, Germany.
But the printing press (newspapers, magazines,paperbacks) belonged to the Industrial Age, not theInformation Age.
The printing press is a 'one-to-many' technology. TheInternet is a 'many-to-many' technology. And that waswhat changed in 1989.
The Industrial Age was about centralization andcontrol. The Information Age is aboutde-centralization and no control. No government and nomedia magnate controls the Internet. This is thecrucial thing to understand about the Information Age.
As we moved from the Agrarian Age through theIndustrial Age to the Information Age, there's been asteady collapse of the barriers that kept one section ofsociety wealthy and the other section poor.
In the Information Age, literally anyone can becomewealthy.
So now that we have a clearer picture of how theInformation Age differs from the Industrial Age, let'sask that question again: 'Who will become wealthy inthe Information Age?':
(1) People Who are Self-Taught
To explain this better, let's go back to the AgrarianAge and the Industrial Age, and the Transmission ofSkills.
In the Agrarian Age, skills were passed on from fatherto son. If you wanted to learn how to be a blacksmithyou had to be a blacksmith's son. If you wanted tolearn to be a stone-mason, you had to be the son of a stone-mason.
With the coming of the Industrial Age, all thischanged. You could go to University and learn whateverskills you wanted. Knowledge was freely available.
But in the Information Age, the Transmission of Skillsis changing once again.
The skills necessary to succeed in the Information Ageare not being learnt from our parents (as in theAgrarian Age), nor are they being learnt in schoolsand colleges (as in the Industrial Age). Children areteaching their parents computer skills. And many ofthe entrepreneurs who start hi-tech Internet companieshave never been to college.
The millionaires (and billionaires) of tomorrowprobably won't have a college education. They will behigh-school drop-outs, self-taught people.
(2) People with New Ideas.
Again, it's the people who are able to think outsideof the existing structures who will become wealthy inthe Information Age. Often, it's just a Simple Ideathat launches people to success in the InformationAge.
Take Sabhir Bhatia, for example - the man who inventedHotmail. Bhatia was a computer engineer working inSilicon Valley. He had no previous businessexperience, whatsoever.
But one day, while he was driving back from work, afriend called him on his cell phone and said that hehad an idea: What about starting a free, web-basedemail service? Bhatia knew this was the idea he'd beenwaiting for. He told his friend to hang up immediatelyand ring him at home on a secure line.
Three years later he sold Hotmail to Microsoft for$400 million.
The third group who will become wealthy in theInformation Age are Writers.
In the Industrial Age, Writers depended on largepublishing Houses to get published (remember that theprinting press is an Industrial Age technology - it iscentralized and controlled). And the Publishing Housestook the lion's share of the profits.
In the Information Age, Writers are doing their ownpublishing - and keeping most of the profitsthemselves. Indeed, Writers are flourishing on theWeb - mainly through eBooks and Ezine Articles.But even if you don't write eBooks or Ezine Articles,if you own a website, you are a Writer.
Because the Internet is basically a written medium. Itfavors writers, people who are able to communicateeffectively through the written word. Remember, it'snot the graphics on your website that sell, it's thewords you use.
In the Information Age, we're all Writers!
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