How we communicate

Date posted: August 11, 2011

Two of the most direct ways we see the impact of technology are in how we communicate and how we receive entertainment. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden provides some statistics that illustrate this point.

“Let me make a couple of comparisons here. … Let me compare standard mail, so-called snail mail, to text messages. Last year there were 1.9 trillion — trillion — text messages sent in the U.S. versus 170 billion pieces of standard mail.

“Now both of those seem like high numbers, but if you look at how they’ve changed over the last decade, this is really where you get an eye-popping result. If you look at the growth of rate growth rate for text messages over the last decade, text messages have increased 1.2 million percent, compared to a drop — an actual drop — of 19 percent for U.S. mail.

“Let me give you a second comparison: Netflix, which delivers videos to homes, versus Blockbuster, which was a brick-and-mortar place where you would actually go and get videos. Over the last decade Netflix sales have gone up 43,000 percent. Blockbuster sales are down 29 percent.

“So, this illustrates how rapidly — I mean, we’re just talking about a decade — how rapidly common things like how do you send a message, do you use text or mail, and how do you get your entertainment — how rapidly things can change.”

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