By Luigi Zingales – Re-Blogged From Imprimis & Hillsdale College
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the invention of the automobile liberated individuals from the yoke of distance. While people could travel before the invention and widespread use of the automobile, they were bound in their daily lives by the limited distance horses could cover. Railroads alleviated but did not eliminate those restrictions—movement was confined by the location of railroad tracks and by train schedules. It was only the automobile that gave individuals the freedom to move at their own leisure.
A century after the invention of the automobile, the invention of the smartphone triggered a similar revolution. And while history never repeats itself, sometimes it rhymes, and these rhymes can help us understand the present.
Before the smartphone, people were tethered to their landlines. In the 1990s, the proliferation of mobile phones and increased access to the Internet greatly expanded our freedom to communicate and our access to information. But it was the introduction of the smartphone in 2007, coupled with mobile communication and the Internet, that brought unprecedented access to information to the Western world and to a significant portion of the developing world.