About 2001 Crisis
The economic crisis of 2001 was the first major crisis of the information economy and created a lot of pessimism about the Information Economy. An economy that was hoped to usher in a new parallel sector to traditional commerce, by creating eCommerce, suddenly fell apart, with the dotcom busts in the year 2000, followed by the collapse of telecom and networking industry in 2001.
The reality is that eCommerce did not die. What was needed was a change of human habits, to make use of Internet rather than traditional commerce and also new real life applications rather than the existing limited computer programs.
The change of habits is happening with the new generation doing a lot more work on computers, than all previous generations, and also Clinton administration in the U.S. started encouraging new habits for the citizens, using computers and the Internet in their daily life, and although encouraging new habits was halted during the Bush admin, it will likely continue after Bush in the U.S., and elsewhere in the world by other political leaders.
On the other hand, more applications with real life feel, are developing, to make the virtual shopping malls a match for the real malls, giving the customers the feel of going to a mall like the Edmonton in Canada. And of course the applications will not be limited to eCommerce, and they are the drivers of the next wave of the Internet, which can be readily called Internet2, which symbolizes the new class of applications, such as virtual presence, that are merged with the high-speed Internet.
In other words, it is not true that the era of computers and networks has come to an end. The reality is that the information economy will just start with the next wave of applications and networks, and although other high tech areas such as biotech and nanotechnology will play significant roles in the upcoming future, but the information economy, computers, applications, and networks will continue to be the major movers for the next decade and pessimism about these technologies is not warranted.
Even the information economy jobs that go overseas, will not make this sector any less significant in the U.S. economy, and elsewhere in the West, when the new wave of information economy starts. The new information economy will need all the human resources it can find in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world when it gets back to full bloom again, with the rise of new applications.
In fact, the pre-PC computers faced a similar stagnation in 60's and 70's, because of not opening new horizons in applications, till the PC broke that barrier, when the PCs allowed the areas of typing and word processing, accounting and spread sheets, popular graphics and presentations to become computerized and popularized in a short span of time, augmented with Local Area Networks (LAN) that quickly expanded into a world wide network that allowed every home and office user to be connected to every other in a global network.
The next set of applications will follow by newer networks bringing real life experience to every computer user around the globe, thus making the ideals of the first pioneers of the Internet eCommerce, a reality, with a significance of the first development of mercantile capital in human history, changing the whole way of the way products are produced and exchanged in the world market, and the real wealth will become the Intellectual Property rights of new technologies. Even ownership of license to a web site name can be worth more than the title to a piece of land in a commercial corner of a shopping center.
The economic crisis of the high tech starting in 2001 was simultaneous with the presidency of G W Bush in the U.S. Bush Administration emphasized on pre-high tech industries, such as oil and airlines. The falling apart of dotcoms had already started before G.W. Bush's presidency, yet the fall of telecom industry started as Bush took office. However, Bush's economic policies helped old industries like oil and airlines, but he never helped the high tech dotcoms and telecoms.
The failures of information economy in the West, particularly in the U.S., helped the stature of retrogressive regimes like the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). All these years, the main challenge of Soviet Union, IRI, and other backward regimes, was the success of post-industrial developments in the West, and not the military might of the U.S. In fact, the Soviet Empire fell apart without exertion of any military action by the U.S. or NATO.
Instead the Bush Administration tried to win over the backward Islamist and Baathist challenges in the Middle East, by resorting to military might, rather than trying to show a winning post-industrial economy in the U.S,. which could be the main allure for the people of the Middle East , away from the Islamist propaganda of the Islamist paradise. Unfortunately what was the rightful self-defense against the Sept 11th attack of the Islamists, became the main focus of the Bush Administration, at the expense of a wholly failed economy.
Within two years, the main centers of high tech like the Silicon Valley of California died in the process, and the bigger picture was that the U.S. lost its attractiveness for the people of Middle East, and elsewhere, who looked up to Silicon Valley and other high tech centers of the U.S., as their ideal for economic development, beyond the retrogressive regimes like IRI.
Iranian new immigrants headed for countries like Australia, when they heard the news of their relatives who either struggled in Silicon Valley of California to survive, or from those who had headed back to Iran, preferring to endure the hardship of living under the Islamist regime, as long as they could make a living for themselves and their families, rather than being in the unemployment lines of Silicon Valley, and other high tech centers of the West.
The high tech centers of the U.S. went South thanks to the failed economic policies of Bush Administration, and the failed Western economy helped the mollah's regime, and meant loss for the secular post-industrial forces of the Middle East, whose programs were identified with the failed economies of high tech in the West and with the U.S. invasion of Iraq regardless of reality of the new global line ups.
In reality, the post-industrial development in the West, was being hurt by the ultranationalist forces, who did not care for post-industrial development, the same way the pre-industrial forces of Middle East blocked all post-industrial change in countries like Iran. So in a way, the U.S. faced a political barrier to post-industrial development just like Iran, but by a different political force.
If in November, the U.S. passes the GW Bush intermittence of the post-industrial development, and once the information economy gets back on track in the West, the main loser will be the retrogressive regimes of the Middle East like Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), which are not only the main block for post-industrial development in the Middle East, but their backward systems are being hailed as the ideal state, by their terrorist supporters, who endanger the peaceful post-industrial development of the world at large.
Hoping for a Futurist, Federal, Democratic, and Secular Republic in Iran,
Sam Ghandchi, Editor/Publisher
June 21, 2004
This article is the preface to the new edition of Futurist Iran book