Atoms are Local, Bits are Global

In a world where everything we use tends toward becoming a service, other businesses will exploit the global nature of information exchange. The internet will continue to remove barriers of distance, and electronic commerce will become increasingly globalised.

These two trends lead us to the fourth big idea: in the sixth wave, the size and distribution of a company’s market will be decided by what it is selling. If it’s in the business of selling atoms – consumables – then it will tend towards thinking locally. If it’s in the business of selling bits – information – then its market is limited only by the reach of its communication media, such as the internet.

Once again, we see different approaches emerging in the biosphere and the technosphere. When we talk about atoms, we’re largely focusing on things in the biosphere, where things we consume will tend to be sourced locally as the costs of transportation increase. In the technosphere, however, the cost of transporting information is low, and so services will be provided to any part of the globe.

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