Haven't posted for a long time - and this isn't my post or at all new - but it's a great piece of funny, thoughtful writing about the markets - new and old - for newspapers, from the smartest guy I know about media, Greg Beato.
Yesterday's NYTimes was rich with articles of the type that spurred me to want to blog here. Pieces that profiled people's passions, visions, and obsessions that end up inspiring particular economics and/or generating their own economies.
Here's one, a piece on marriage and immigration from the standpoint of people waiting to prove their courtships are valid, not just an excuse to slip into the United States for a better chance at work. Note how it creates an economy of regulators to play vigilance over romance.
Another colorful story profiles the "singularity movement," a group of people (led formally and informally by Google head Larry Page and futurist Raymond Kurzweil) who believe we can engineer much more longer lives. Note how many entrepreneurs are attracted to singularity and looking to create businesses around it.
My favorite is a captivating review of two books about America's wars against its Indians. These books include The Last Stand, a book that looks at the figures and battle known as Little Big Horn, and Empire of the Summer Moon, which profiles the Commanches from their rise of something akin an imperial power to their demise in the face of white settlers. Both events were based on a mix of technology, human skill sets, and cultural priorities. I'm making it sound much more dry and academic than reviewer Bruce Barcott's terrific piece.
A good piece on the way vanity presses (for people who pay to get their
own work published) are changing the entire book industry. At one point looked at as a repository of third-rate creativity, this sector has been fueled by digital technology. In the mid-1990s, my brother-in-law, Philip Simmons, who was fighting Lou Gehrig's disease, ended up publishing one of his books in one of these presses. He'd tried unsuccessfully to solicit New York publishers for two years, not easy for a man quickly losing his ability to move, nevermind speak.
In the end his book Learning to Fall ended up with excellent mainstream reviews, winning awards, and getting a contract with an established publisher. It's gratifying to see this micro-economy start to change. It's allowed a whole range of literature, from African-American writers to communities with shared interests. The other interesting movement digital technology is fueling is magazine publishing. See MagCloud for some interesting examples.