Access to knowledge...
I continue to be blown away by the power of the Internet (and Google) to improve my life.
Exhibit A: When we built our home, we had the shell erected and did the finish work ourselves. At that age (30) I was supremely confident I could handle the carpentry, plumbing, electrical, etc. Heck, I was an engineer.
Of course, these are trades, and using the tools and materials of the times, experience was a much bigger component of success. But the house got finished and has served well for 30+ years.
In the process of replacing the carpet on the stairs, I noticed that I had installed the treads and risers wrong. I found out after searching for "stair construction" and comparing the advice with my work. Perhaps I could have found this out by a book or from a carpenter back in 1978, but I thought I was doing it right. And it was pretty close, and has sufficed.
But my first instinct now when faced with a fixing problem is to download knowledge. In a matter of seconds, my abilities are multiplied.
I don't think the full effect of this phenomenon is close to being realized, but as many observers are pointing out, the result is not to increase incomes, but lower costs. In this case, the Internet delivered free what an experienced carpenter used to provide for $25/hr. or so.
In don't think farming is exempt from this "value predation". Nor are our vendors. Knowledge given freely makes many jobs lower valued, simply because much of their product was "knowing where to hit", as the old joke goes.
This could be an underlying reason behind the jobless recoveries we have been suffering. Perhaps too many jobs were based on closed information systems.
I've got stairs to fix.