Update 2015 : These days, of course, I'm a hell of a lot less optimistic than below. Here's something I just wrote in a Quora comment :
> It's worse than that, actually. The IT industry is basically the recognition that we're entering an "information economy" which is another way of saying it's recognition that we're entering the epoch of enclosing the mental territory of ideas and thoughts. The valuations in tech are ALL about patents and other IP; and corporations that have corralled huge databases of information about people into their giant, too big to emulate or compete with, clouds.
> The industrial revolution didn't ultimately leave us with a world run by giants of manufacturing. Manufacturers, like all workers, are under the usual creative destruction and race to the bottom.
> The industrial revolution actually left us with power in the hands of the landlords who own the oil wells, and the service industries that cater to them. The entire geopolitical order is oriented around the oil owners.
> The IT revolution will leave us with power in the hands of the "owners" of the ideas and databases. (And the service industries that cater to them.) The entire geopolitical order will end up oriented around those databases and routing tables.
> Capitalism is always a race for the capitalist to find something to own and charge rent on, not something to provide and charge a fee for.
Update : an interesting tweet : NoInventoryCaptialism
I was talking to my friend HilanBensusan about the discussion of CulturalCapitalism in TheAgeOfAccess. I was suggesting that Rifkin had missed TheAgeOfAmateurs as an opposing trend. Hilan was more pessimistic. "The internet is being colonized by capital."
I don't think so ... yet. The .com crash of 2000 was basically capital realizing that the internet can't be colonized. Everything interesting since has come from amateur communities or small InternetCulture-friendly companies.
Meanwhile big-capital is planning it's next assault, through co-opting the US government to use regulation deliver the internet over to it : (SavingTheInternet)
Now is the time we discover whether politics is important.
If the CalifornianDreaming, the libertarian techno-optimism, is right, then the internet should be able to self-organize a resistance. Technical fixes will route-around government control. Amateur communities will open up new commons, faster than capital can enclose them. (Eventually starving capital of the oxygen of anyone giving a damn!)
But if it isn't. If the corporatist state is able to sieze control of the net and hand it back to capital. Then, we techno-optimists better learn the lesson : Politics and political power rules. Not ideas. Not freedom of discussion, self-organization, networks, EmergentDemocracy or any other bullshit!
See also CapitalistResistanceToNetocracy. Of course, it's all the fault of us going round proclaiming the end of capitalism and the coming informationalism / NetoCracy. We alerted capital to the danger it was in.
Former CIA Director George Tenet argued (in a meeting where the national press was excluded) "that the modernization of key industries in the United States is making them more vulnerable by connecting them with an Internet that is open to attack." He went on to claim that the free and open society of the net must give way to governance and control.
Because corporations decided to increasingly rely on the internet despite clear security problems, he argues the US government must step in and end the free society of the net, in explicit preference to corporate concerns.
Another possibility is that there is really a ClassWarBetweenProductsAndServices
Another view of the .com crash : PaulGrahamOnTheInternetBubble
The end of Bayosphere WeMedia. (The http://bayosphere.com/blog/dan_gillmor/20060124/from_dan_a_letter_to_the_bayosphere_community) The) truth is that WebTwoPointZero companies still can't make much money and there's likely to be another bubble and crash. Looks like I didn't get rich again, but InternetCulture is still successfully resisting colonization by capital. (Contrast HowToMakeMoneyOnTheInternet)
RobertXCringely has an interesting suggestion that distributing video over the net (plus local public service stations) should be organized as a non-profit. http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20060608.html