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Date: 2024-05-27 Page is: DBtxt003.php txt00008904

Wallace R. Wood ... Diginomics ... Transformation of Money ... an Evolving Diginomic Lifestyle
Peter Burgess COMMENTARY
I am adding this commentary about a decade after Wallace Wood wrote the following material.

It is interesting to look back at the thinking that was around the emergence of the World Wide Web and the Internet. From a technical perspective, the power of the technology has increased far faster than most of us expected.

In many ways the potential for good has been exceeded ... and that is something that should be celebrated.

At the same time there are many serious downsides and most of these have not been adequately addressed either by the technology organizations in the private sector or by official government and political actors. It is relatively easy to argue that bad actors are moving faster to use the power of all the emerging digital technologies than those that aim to do good.
Peter Burgess


Something BIG is happening in the area of world economics. It is the search for a system which will drastically alter our standard and way of living – one which will put an end to our use of cash, checks and personal credit. We are witnessing the birth process of a world without money, a cashless society!
Those are the words I wrote in 1974 in my very first book, Cashless Society: A World Without Money. I spoke of a day coming in which an “international” computer system would oversee and approve or disapprove every financial transaction, no matter how large or how small. Because it would be a “central” computer system, I called it “CenCom” and proceeded to tell how an average middle income family would live in a CenCom-controlled, cashless society. CenCom would approve every fuel purchase at the gas station, every soda purchase at the soda machine, every purchase of everything at every store. It would even play a major role in monthly bill payments.

Nearly 10 years later, CenCom became the Internet!

In 1998, the publisher of that first book asked if I would consider writing a sequel. My thought at the time was: If I do write a sequel, what would we call it? The term cashless society has fallen on hard times in recent years. No one would buy a book with the words “Cashless Society” on the cover.

As I pondered the challenge, I reflected on how far we had come since the early ‘70s … and the fact that, indeed, our global economy had become more intangible than tangible.
Business every-where was now being done “at the speed of thought” (Gates, 1999).
And it was all being conducted over a CenCom-type network that spoke only one language: digital! A “digitized” culture with an economy that has gone “digital” – Diginomics! A brand new word!


My first venture into the world of the Internet came with the publishing of my first article on the digital economy, “Diginomics” – Reviewing the New Globalized Digital Economy on December 1, 1998. Since then, the word itself has taken off worldwide. In 2007, the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary was the first to capture the word and use my definition. Suddenly, global conferences, workshops, seminars, books, articles, university-level classes, websites and more bearing the word Diginomics have emerged online. And, more recently, Travis Patron has awakened to this trend in diginomics to give new focus to the reigning king of diginomic “money” – Bitcoin!


The Wall Street Journal quoted a banking consultant in its November 30, 2011 edition as saying, “Many of today’s bankers don’t quite get the fact there is a new normal, a new world order that is coming to banking.” Author and IT consultant Don Tapscott supports that view in his 1996 best seller, THE DIGITAL ECONOMY: “This new global situation is turning the world economy upside down. The economy for the Age of Networked Intelligence is a digital economy.”

Bitcoin appears to be the new leader of an emerging industry of digital currencies known as “cybercurrencies.” It’s what Joel Kurtzman first coined in his 1993 book, THE DEATH OF MONEY, as “megabyte money.”

Case in point: only one in ten US dollars in circulation today is a physical note—the kind you can hold in your hand or put in your wallet. The other nine are virtual. – McKinsey & Company special report: “The Global Grid” (June 2010)

Welcome to the World of Diginomics!

diginomics (noun) : (dij’i-nom’iks) [digital + economics] the technological and social development toward an all-digital economy conducted electronically in all financial dealings between buyer and seller; a cashless society where all financial transactions are conducted electronically. Evolving digital economics! – Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary(2007)
Joel Kurtzman, chairman of the Kurtzman Group, in his 1993 book, The Death of Money, called the new currency “megabyte money”, saying it was (and is) “an entirely new form of money based not on metal or paper, but on technology, mathematics, and science … This new megabyte money is creating a new and different world wherever it proceeds.” This former Executive Editor of Harvard Business Review and current business book reviewer for CNN, noted that “money now is different … It is no longer a thing … it is a system. Money is a network. Few people realize that money, in the traditional sense, has met its demise. Fewer still have paused to reflect on the implications of that fact.”

The “New Money Factor” of diginomics covers an extremely large spectrum to include not only the issue of currency being digitized, but every aspect of economic lifestyles today. It addresses both “how” we shop and “where” we shop. It’s how we spend our money and the electronic environments of that experience. Are we using cash, checks, and coins, or are we totally cashless? The popular yet controversial series of commercials by Visa in which the arterial flow of cashless shopping is stymied by the user of cash depicts both the reality of our times and a trend into the future.

The January 29, 2007 edition of Information Week notes that, “A generation is growing up hacking and slashing their way through virtual worlds, and they’re going to expect a 3-D, virtual interface for the rest of their online interaction.” Later, in the April issue, IW went further to say of this new generation of shoppers, “Now they want everything at Internet speed.”

The International Business Times of London headlined in its November 24, 2011 edition that the “Next Generation to be Born into ‘Cashless’ Society”, stating that “Today’s younger generation will trade in their cash, credit cards and cheques for mobile digital wallets by 2016. Children born today will be Britain’s first cashless generation and will frequently use their smartphones in exchange for goods and services.”

The Digital Economy continues to chase the heels of the Tangible Economy (where cash has long been king throughout history), getting ever closer to parity since its inception, ever reaching for predominance. Dr. Peter Bishop, the University of Houston’s “professional futurist” professor who oversees that school’s Studies of the Future program, calls this the era of “The Intangible Society”.

In a white paper entitled The Waves of Creative Destruction: Technology Past, Present & Future, Dr. Bishop declares, “We should not call it the information society because it is more than information. It’s also communication, finance, education, entertainment. I propose instead that we call it The Intangible Society—the first industrial society to offer breakthrough productivity on purely intangible products and services.”

Don Tapscott, in his classic book, The Digital Economy [© 1996, McGraw-Hill] has an equally interesting term for the new digital era: “the Age of Sand.”

“The new economy is a digital economy,” he writes. “The new age could be aptly dubbed the age of sand. The affairs of commerce, business transactions, human communications, and the insights of science are all reduced to charges on particles of silicon or racing through glass fibers, both derived from sand.”

In an era when books, movies, music, and newsprint are transmuting from atoms to bits, money remains irritatingly analog. Physical currency is a bulky, germ-smeared, carbon-intensive, expensive medium of exchange. Let’s dump it! – David Wolman, WIRED, 17.06; “Time to Cash-Out: Why Paper Money Hurts the Economy“

“Money is now an image,” writes Kurzman in The Death of Money. “Simultaneously, it can be displayed on millions of computer screens on millions of desks around the world. But, in reality, it is located nowhere and needs no vault for safekeeping. Yet, while money has no real location, it has created an environment that is paradoxically everywhere while taking up no physical space … A community where neighbors, colleagues, and competitors are accessible only through electronics.”


“A new civilization is emerging in our lives. This new civilization brings with it new family styles, changed ways of working, loving and living; a new economy, new political conflicts, and beyond all this, an altered consciousness as well.” – Alvin Toffler, “Creating a New Civilization” (1995)
In this transition of which Toffler speaks, cultures everywhere are being redesigned along digital guidelines, creating what we would call diginomic lifestyles. As the world reshapes and redesigns itself, it is rapidly and optimally adopting the technologies required to maximize convenience. Don’t sweat it! There’s no need. Just push that button.

Like the car commercial whose ubiquitous mantra is “Zoom! Zoom!” – the evolving Diginomic Lifestyle is one in which the speed of Life needs the speed of Light to thrive and prosper.


“There can no longer be any doubt that the future of business is inextricably bound up with the Internet,” says John Chambers, president/CEO of Cisco, as quoted in the book, Digital Transformation in 2000.

Michael Robert and Bernard Racine agree. From their 2001 work entitled, e-Strategy Pure & Simple, “e-commerce is changing the rules everyday – making it even tougher for brick-and-mortar companies to develop strategies for survival in the new economy.”

At this moment (January 2015), the total world population sits at 7.2 billion souls, 3.1 billion of whom have access to the Internet … fully 42 percent of the earth’s population. That’s a lot of people coming to visit!

In the U. S., the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce reports that ecommerce is growing at a faster pace than street sales in brick-and-mortar stores. Estimates of U.S. retail e-commerce sales for the third quarter of 2014, according to the DoC (adjusted for seasonal variation, but not for price changes), was $78.1 billion, an increase of 4.0 percent (±0.7%) from the second quarter. The third quarter 2014 e-commerce estimate increased 16.2 percent (±3.2%) from the same period in 2013 while total retail sales increased only 4.2 percent (±0.5%). E-commerce sales in the third quarter of 2014 accounted for 6.6 percent of total sales.
Jonathan D. Freidan, E-Commerce Law: “Though online spending is still a fraction of total consumer spending, it is growing at a rate of more than 25 percent annually.”
According to one source (eMarketer), there are over 4 billion global subscribed users of cell phones today … over 67% of the world’s population. “By the end of the forecast period (of 2014), smartphone penetration among mobile phone users globally will near 50%.” According to a 2010 study by the U.N., “more people on earth have access to cell phones than toilets.”

Aside from making phone calls or texting, new connection technologies in smartphones is on a fast track to being your electronic wallet whereby wireless purchases are made on the fly. It’s also being used as your personal scanning wand for food, clothing and department store purchases.
“We estimate that the total number of mobile phone Internet users will rise 16.5% in 2014 and maintain double-digit growth through 2016.” – eMarketer
“Today’s younger generation will trade in their cash, credit cards and checks for mobile digital wallets by 2016, new research claims,” the International Business Times reported on November 24, 2011. “Children born today will be [the] first ‘cashless generation’ and will frequently use their smartphones in exchange for goods and services, according to a report by the research company Forrester for the e-commerce site PayPal.”

International business consultant and author, Kenichi Ohmae, in his book, The Next Global Stage, writes: “The interconnected, interactive, global economy is a reality. It is often confusing and disorienting. It challenges both the way we see business and the way we do business.”

“The mobile Internet – mobile commerce – will dramatically change what has already dramatically changed the world,” says Richard Silber of Accenture. “The wireless world will be a truly global market … Get ready for the ride of your life!”

WALLACE WOOD The word “diginomics” came as Wallace R. Wood, a futuristic journalist and author in Houston, considered a request from the publisher of his first book, Cashless Society: A World Without Money (1974). The request was to write a sequel to the first book 25 years after the fact. The year was 1998. Today, Wood heads where he continues to research, write and speak on “Our Diginomic World” and “Our Transparent World”.

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Copyright © 2005-2021 Peter Burgess. All rights reserved. This material may only be used for limited low profit purposes: e.g. socio-enviro-economic performance analysis, education and training.