I found this article after skipping off a few links that originated from a BoingBoing post on contemporary media. The thesis presented here is not new. Alfred Chandler's work on the rise of big business (in which he explains several of the consequences of industrialization mentioned in the article, including centralized products, big companies, and mass marketing) places primary emphasis for this change in the rise of integrated transportation and communication networks. Specifically, after the Civil War, railroads played a very important part in providing the markets necessary for large enterprise. Improved communication also allowed information concerning supply chains and prices to spread more quickly and across a wider area, fostering firm growth.
The author of the article is extending Chandler's model to the rise of the internet by asking, what kind of production structure will arise out of the arguably more decentralized market that is the internet? One of the most interesting implications which he or she outlines is, "work life integration", questioning whether "Not only will more people work from home, but personal life will also permeate more traditional offices through IM, e-mail, and other communication forms. Conversely, people will never really leave work, because mobile technology will let them take their offices wherever they go."
Certainly this idea is more reminiscent of the artisan shops of pre-19th century production (and also of grad school!!!), and I wonder to what extent this can become a part of the internet age. Can we combine the gains we've made in productivity over the last few centuries with a more "humane" understanding of work? I think that the rise of open source software and alternative forms of copyright law that have gained prominence in this digital age show signs of the Chandlerian model emerging in this period: specifically, the influence of new forms of communication and transportation technology (the latter taken in a much more broad sense now in order to consider uploading/downloading as a form of 'digital transportation') on the organization of production. The question is how far this institutional model can take us in revolutionizing the economy.
What do you think?