Over the last few weeks, the economy may have a turned a corner. After several years in which public confidence has greatly exceeded any reasonable level based on underlying economic fundamentals, we suddenly face a diametrically different dilemma.
Now, the problem is that doom and gloom is the order of the day — indeed, consumer confidence has hit new lows. The very same economists who first warned of us of the impending meltdown, now talk of a need to find the economic silver lining because hopelessness is a self-fulfilling prophecy, even in economics.
Just what do we have to be optimistic about? Quite a lot actually. All around us are the signs of innovative bursts that promise to let us do more with fewer resources and devote the savings to still newer and more innovative opportunities. In a recent column, even Paul Krugman, once a harbinger of the apocolypse, sounds slight notes of optimism.
While we certainly don’t need any more false optimism, false pessimism will be lethal and hold us back as long as we allow it to. As such, I’m going to start compiling a list of the everyday innovations — from small steps forward to giant leaps — that are sowing the seeds of growth even as the economy contracts. Hopefully having these opportunities in plain sight will help convince people they exist.
In fact, one perfect example may be sitting on your desk right now. The advent of $300 (or lower) Netbooks heralds an age of greater global access to the web at vastly lower costs, meaning more people contributing to our collective ‘human network’ and more people benefitting from it.