The little iPod portable sound system that allows you access to thousands of your favourite tunes is likely to be flying off the shelves this Christmas. No wonder. The device is a marvel and one of those trendy “must-have” items that our modern capitalist system seems to excel in. Apple’s sales growth has gone up tremendously over the past year partly as a result of the gadget.
Interestingly, this emblem of shameless materialism is also finding uses in the field of medical science, if this story, which I came across via libertarian author Virginia Postrel, is a guide. Medical researchers use the device to help them keep records of medical data and relay it back. Clever. It shows how certain types of technology that start off in a supposedly frivolous field like portable music gadgets can accomplish something more serious, as Postrel points out. Side point: I wish she would increase the font size of her blog. It is killing my eyesight. As I pointed out a week or so ago, another product of Silicon Valley entrepreneurship, the eBay auction site, has been used by buyers as unusual as the London Underground for the purposes of getting obscure spare parts.
I think what this demonstrates in general is the yawning gap between the dynamism and creativity of the private sector and the plodding performance of all too much of what goes under under the aegis of the State. It also reminds us a bit I think of the good news that continues to be out there, if we want to look for it. Let’s be honest, a lot of what we have written about lately, such as the ID card issue and free speech infringements, makes for dark reading. Let’s not lose sight of the ways in which free enterprise is still on the march.
On that cheery note, have a very merry Christmas and happy 2005, and hopefully, a prosperous and peaceful one too. Thanks to my fellow contributors for making this blog so much stimulating fun.