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Some of the most exciting developments, according
to Barlow, are happening in Asia, where the Internet’s potential
market is enormous and the success of many Asian companies is
only partly related to cheaper labor. "Because of the information
economy, Asian companies can mobilize a gazillion cottage industries,
turning them into an Asian version of General Motors," he
Asia’s cultural heritage might also be an
advantage for the region, Barlow contends. "In traditional,
non-monotheistic societies, leadership comes from the collective
— from below rather than the top," he says. "In
the West, human endeavor is hierarchical, and this worked well
during the Industrial Age, when authority ruled. That’s
not a good model for the Information Age."
Of all the Internet’s many ironies, perhaps
the most underreported is the digital divide in this very country.
"My heart goes out to all these young kids whose main concern
is not technology or weblogs but abuse and poverty, crime and
hunger," says Kleinrock. "How much time can they spend
thinking about computers? It’s a social issue the Internet
won’t solve, although it can help solve it through more
education and by leveling the playing field."
is a senior writer for UCLA Magazine.