World After Capital

Albert Wenger from Union Square Ventures published the first version of his online book World After Capital earlier this year. In contrast to books that go through an offline publishing process and aren’t revised after they’re published, World After Capital is a continual work in progress that Albert adds to and revises based on reader comments and his emerging thoughts.

In World After Capital, Albert identifies four ages in the development of humanity. These are the forager age, the agrarian age, the industrial age, and the information age which we’re currently in.

He argues that the scarce resource in each age shifted from food in the forager age to land in the agrarian age to capital in the industrial age to attention which is the scarce resource in the information age.

Now that a resource is no longer scarce doesn’t mean that everyone has access to it. It means that we have enough of that resource in total to provide for everyone’s needs. However, the resource’s distribution among individuals may still leave it inaccessible to some people, as is the case for food, land, and capital.

Finally, Albert provides specific recommendations for the actions we need to take now that we live in an age with sufficient capital (at the societal level) and scarce attention (at both the societal and the individual level). In Albert’s words, these are:

  1. Instituting a basic income (economic freedom)
  2. Investing in internet access, rolling back intellectual property rights, and rethinking personal privacy (informational freedom)
  3. Practicing and encouraging self-regulation (psychological freedom)

You can read the most recent version of World After Capital here.

Also published on Medium.