Fortunately, the Market Wasn’t Controlled by This Guy

In Wednesday’s Mises Daily article, Gary Galles explained how there’s no way to predict the many new ways the marketplace can create, deliver, and sustain amazing new things. This is why freedom is so essential.

The impossibility of planning innovation is shown quite well in this 1995 column by a very smart person who predicted the internet would never amount to anything. Here are some choice quotations:

But today, I’m uneasy about this most trendy and oversold community [the internet].Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic.Baloney.

Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth in no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.

Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Internet. Uh, sure.

Well, that crack about government not changing the way it does business was kind of true. Government is pretty much the same, although the internet has magnified its spying power many times over.

But the rest of this is pretty fun to read, and obviously, had this guy, who is no dummy, been in a position to “guide” the economy to more “realistic” ends, we’d all still be reading day-old news on dead trees.

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