“When a man journeys into a far country, he must be prepared to forget many of the things he has learned, and to acquire such customs as are inherent with existence in the new land; he must abandon the old ideals and the old gods, and oftentimes he must reverse the very codes by which his conduct has hitherto been shaped”. So writes Jack London in the opening lines of his famous novel A Far Country.
Now that the Internet economy is bigger than Brazil’s and sitting just behind the economy of the UK, according to new research by the Boston Consulting Group, we should reflect on whether we have reversed the very codes we live by.
In the good old days – nine years ago say – the Internet would have been seen as a huge threat to established economies. The new country, the Internet, grew from within, however, from within our homes and offices and united the world in a network, a web of connections that are as flexible as they are unbreakable. The good news is that this new empire contributes billions to national economies – it does not take away.
The only real bad news for national economies is that it provides a mechanism for tax avoidance that is both unprecedented and virtually ungovernable. That is the fear for the group of national economies, of course, that the Internet has no governance. The good news – let us hope – is that if it were a country and the economy was expanding as fast as the Internet, things would be good, airports would be being built, jobs would be plentiful and there would be shiny happy faces everywhere. The bad news, according to the report, is that the price that people are prepared to give up to secure their new-found democratic country ranges from showers to sweets to sex.
As we learn to live in this Far Country, we will get used to doing business in different ways – as we are – and we will adopt different ways of managing our lives and our relationships and we will watch the Internet, and almost every other technology that connects things, disappear into the fabric of our lives as the Internet completely and benignly takes over the world.