If I were to suggest that the
Gold and Commodities Boom owes its current
robust constitution to the Internet, the image
of a horse’s posterior might pop into your head.
But bear with me, and see if you can’t be
When I was 12, my brother, two
years younger than me, told me that one day
everybody would talk to each other through
computers connected by wires.
"Why would they want to do
that?", I remember thinking. My brother was
clearly smarter than I was then, and I suspect
he still is.
Today, my brother builds and
restores turn-of-the-century era homes in and
around Portland, Oregon, and I spend most of my
days talking to people around the world on
computers connected by wires.
Unbeknownst to us at the time of
his oracular pronouncement, the fulfillment of
his prophecy was well underway.
The Internet had its roots
during the 1960's as a project of the United
States government's Department of Defense, to
create a non-centralized network designed to
survive partial outages (ie. nuclear war) and
still function when parts of the network were
down or destroyed. This project was called
ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency
Network), created by the Pentagon's Advanced
Research Projects Agency established in 1969 to
provide a secure and survivable communications
network for organizations engaged in
Fast forward to 2000, and the
Internet has grown itself to the point where
there are over one billion people accessing the
internet on a daily basis….a sixth of the
Many people around the world
harbor the misguided notion that the promise of
the Internet was overstated, and point to the
bursting of the Internet bubble in 2002 as
evidence to support their claims.
The reality of the matter is
that big, and otherwise usually smart money
rushed into the new space throwing billions of
dollars ahead of them driven by the biggest
investment driver in the human psyche, fear.
(Some will say, "What about greed?", but when
you think about it, greed is just the fear of
not having enough, and is therefore a form of
Fear of missing out on the
astounding new technology that would connect
everyone to each other, and manifest a
collective consciousness for the betterment of
the entire race.
The Internet was merely the
beneficiary of an excess of investment that went
in to building out infrastructure too quickly
before the users for so much bandwidth had
Certainly a collective
consciousness has been established by the
Internet, but the biggest impact of this new
elevated level of common knowledge has been to
supercharge the biggest driver of labour in the
human psyche, desire.
The Internet has established the
desire in countries previously so unencumbered
for a standard of living on par with Europe and
For people who were otherwise
content, or at least resigned, to their
lifestyles, it opened the door to the
possibility of a better life.
And this new elevated collective
desire now rampant in the populations of third
world countries has effectively destroyed the
cyclical nature of many industries. Chief among
them is the industry that makes possible all
other industries, mining.
For the sake of simplicity, lets
add the populations of Europe, North America and
Oceania together, and pronounce that the
population of the "Have’s", or the people with
the standard of living that the rest of the
populations combined are after.
That means that 5.4 billion
citizens are all going to want the standard of
living currently enjoyed by only 1.2 billion. An
oversimplification, perhaps, but a valid
viewpoint none the less.
According to the table above,
only 11.3% of Asia’s population, by far and
away the largest still living below our
standards, have adopted the new desire and are
diligently busy building the infrastructure upon
which the future lifestyle must needs rest.
India and China combined are
commonly acknowledged as the next two economies
to be reckoned with, in terms of double digit
economic growth. Prices for basic materials such
as copper, steel, nickel and virtually every
other mineral used in construction are marching
Certain economic commentators
are calling this a 'super-cycle', implying that
the trend will eventually reverse itself, and
these industries will contract as they have done
since the industrialization of mankind.
It is no such thing.
The cyclical nature of mining is
dead, a relic of the past.
What do you think is going to
happen to the demand curve for basic materials
when China, India, Africa, and Latin America’s
internet penetration percentages rise to meet
How bout Russia?
China is the largest consumer of
copper, but the United States is second. Once a
standard of living is achieved it must be
The rest of humanity’s existence
will now be spent in bringing the rest of the
world population up to a better standard of
living. Or we shall perish in the effort.
The secret is out.
Even in the remotest African
villages, people know who Brittney Spears is.
And all of the young people want to go to her
concerts. All the adults want cars, pools,
vacations, 840 thread count sheets and chilled
white wine in fine crystal to go with their
This is the dawn of a new era,
and history will likely remember it as the
“Information” Age. The homogenization of the
human race is underway, and the boom in the
mining sector is merely the first harbinger of
the coming boom in everything else.
The beneficial effect of a
connected collective consciousness will soon
manifest itself in the form of greener energies,
less waste, more efficient transportation modes,
improved urban planning, and who knows? Perhaps
the colonization of distant worlds is closer
than we think.
But none of this will come to
pass until the human race has experienced a more
equitable distribution of living standards.
Can our planet’s resources
support the Euro-North American lifestyle for 7
or 8 or 9 billion people? Will "resource wars"
over water, energy, and food engulf an ever
broader swath of humanity? Can our ecosystem
withstand the onslaught of refuse that must
surely result? Will technology deliver the
ability to extract minerals from distant
planets? Will the population of another planet
whose ecosystem is already used up come and
steal all our stuff?
These are valid and visionary
questions, which my brother and I like to
discuss now on the all-too-infrequent occasions
when we convene for beer, guitar, and