Did you know that watching Netflix or using iMessage can decrease our GDP? And I don’t mean that people spend more time playing instead of working. This Idea comes from the book “The second machine age.” I just finished reading it yesterday and I can’t stop thinking about it.

The GDP idea

The basic idea is like this: We often switch to new services that are often free or cheap, but make our lives better. As the revenue pre user is usually much lower, the total revenue in the system goes down.

Just a few examples:

  • Switching from paid SMS to iMessage
  • Using Skype instead of Cellular or landline network
  • Watching Netflix instead of visiting DVD rental store
  • Using Wikipedia instead of books and libraries

It forks for companies too. At my current biggest project, ehotel.cz, we use Trello and Podio to organize everything. It is free, but it helps us work smarter. In the past, we would have to use robust and expensive software tools for this. But this decreases the GDP.

The effect of the rise of social networks, information age and shared economy on GDP is just the sum of the companies’ revenue? Our wellbeing is better than ever, we work smarter than ever but the GDP goes down?

Ok, the GDP is wrong, what now?

That seems wrong. I read before that GDP is not a good KPI for our world anymore, but this? Sure, you can spend the money you save on other products and services. The GDP will not decrease, but your wellbeing will be even higher. I am not an economist. I am not even sure that these thoughts are right, but we should use different metric for our happiness.

Few years ago I read the book “The Happiness manifesto”. The author Nic Marks proposes an Idea of new growth metric. It should measure how happy we are divided how much resources we use for that.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on what is visible to the eye. And the GDP.

I would say, not just the eye, but to the GDP as well.

The book

There are more great ideas in The Second Machine age book (it has a Czech translation). Andrew McAfee wrote the book. His TED talk “How the work would look like in the future” works well as the books trailer. I can recommend the book. Read it and let me know what you think.


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Autor Jiri Benedikt

Trenér dovedností budoucnosti: Design thinking, Lean, Digi skills. Pomáhám lidem tvořit a růst v digitální době. Chodím po horách, lezu po skalách, ležím v knížkách.

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