Philipp Staab’s essay is both: fascinating and frightening at the same time. It is an analysis of the current influence digitalization has on the economy as well as on spheres of life and thus on the world of work for every single person.
On rare occasions I have read through a non-fiction book so quickly and with such enthusiasm. It almost felt like reading a detective story, however, this one is not fiction but real.
The author succeeds in captivating the reader’s attention from the start with his critical examination: in a very comprehensible manner he explains the interdependence between the paradigm of continuous growth in productivity through technical progress and the need for growing demand from consumers. He calls this correlation the consumption dilemma. A term that becomes a motif throughout the essay. With the help of this concept Staab displays how enterprises of the New Economy try to overcome this conflict of objectives by disrupting the Old Economy.
The fascinating detail of this description is from a consumer’s point of view – and that is all of us – the critical examination of the means and methods of the GAFA-Economy (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) on the one hand and the customer’s part on the other hand. Because in the end we all play a role in this development either by increased consumption of things we mostly do not really need or by declining to do so.
While reading one thing became aparent to me: the consumer may often not be aware of the fact that he is not powerless with digitalization but is rather manipulated by it due to “false promises” of a right to have a say in this. That believe makes him lose bargaining power that he could regain by being aware of negotiating power.
Staab illustrates this point with an example of a conversation between the car company Ford and a union representative. Being asked by Ford how the union will make the manufacturing machines pay union contribution, the man countered how Ford will make the machine buy his cars.
I can only recommend this book from the bottom of my heart to everybody who is interested in economic history on the one hand and curious to understand the mechanism of digital free market economy on the other hand.