Peter Drucker has an interesting story, Beyond The Information Revolution the appeared in The Atlantic awhile back.
The steam engine was to the Industrial Revolution as the Computer is to the “Information revolution” (if you’ve ever read Stoll you know why I put that in quotes, I\'m still not entirely sold on the knowledge revolution idea). Both the computer and the steam engine were not just the triggers, but as he puts it “above all, it’s symbol”. Now, just as then, products caught up in this revolution are seeing dramatic price decreases (Moores law being just one example). Now computers prices drop each year, then it was clothing, paper, and metal.
What he points out that is so interesting has to do with the amount of time that elapsed before the industrial revolution began to break out of it’s 19th century thinking. During the first 50 years of the revolution people had only managed to mechanize stuff that had been around, they just made more of it, and it cost less.
Just as the railroad worked to shrink “mental geography”, the internet eliminates it. We can now buys books from Amazon in Seattle, or catalogs from isim in Sweden, they both get delivered in the same way. Now we only have one economy, and one market, barriers have fallen world wide.
He calls this the Knowledge revolution because the key to our current revolution lies not in the computers themselves, but in cognitive science, that is in our minds, in the minds of the people leading this revolution.