The physical world and the internet

Last week I wrote:

The internet made communication and entertainment cheap, and put endless information at our fingertips. It seems likely that we’ve overdone it on cheap communication and entertainment, and underdone it on instant access to other forms of information.

One thing I didn’t mention explicitly, though, was the use of information and communication to augment or change the physical world. That was an oversight, especially because in the paper I cited in that post, the most valued internet service after search and email was maps.

My ideas for the next phase of the internet aren’t very physical, but that’s just a reflection of my own interests. Any broader attempt to think about what the internet is good for should discuss how it interacts with the physical world, so I wanted to just link to a few things that do that.

Here’s Tyler Cowen:

Many of the biggest events of 2018 will be bound together by a common theme, namely the collision of the virtual internet with the real “flesh and blood” world. This integration is likely to steer our daily lives, our economy, and maybe even politics to an unprecedented degree.

Then there’s Peter Thiel’s idea that the fact that “we’re no longer moving faster” is a sign of stalled innovation.

Finally, this Benedict Evans talk has a lot in it about the internet and the physical world.