Conquering geography: technology’s most profound victory during Covid

June 27, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: journalism.

Three decades ago Marc Andreessen co-created the Mosaic internet browser, one of the first of its kind, and later he cofounded Netscape. His website, Future, takes on some of the big issues internet technology.

Andreessen has written a brief and perceptive review of how technology helped us survive – even thrive – during the Covid crisis.

Despite the fact that we were isolated from one another, many businesses and organizations continue to function. They had to give up some traditional procedures and ways of doing things, and they had to get creative about accomplishing those tasks. In many instances, they took on new services, and often new customers in the process.

Andreessen believes the crisis demonstrated technology’s most far-reaching victory: it conquered geography.

Finally, possibly the most profound technology-driven change of all — geography, and its bearing on how we live and work. For thousands of years, until the time of COVID, the dominant fact of every productive economy has been that people need to live where we work. The best jobs have always been in the bigger cities, where quality of life is inevitably impaired by the practical constraints of colocation and density. This has also meant that governance of bigger cities can be truly terrible, since people have no choice but to live there if they want the good jobs.

What we have learned — what we were forced to learn — during the COVID lockdowns has permanently shattered these assumptions. It turns out many of the best jobs really can be performed from anywhere, through screens and the internet. It turns out people really can live in a smaller city or a small town or in rural nowhere and still be just as productive as if they lived in a tiny one-room walk-up in a big city. It turns out companies really are capable of organizing and sustaining remote work even — perhaps especially — in the most sophisticated and complex fields.

This is, I believe, a permanent civilizational shift. Source: Technology Saves the World – Future

Andreessen’s essay is well worth the five minutes it takes to read it.

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