Agricultural Economics Department


Date of this Version



Published by the Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Copyright 2010 Regents of the University of Nebraska.


In today’s world of 24-hour news service on the internet, youtube, facebook, twitter, electronic newspapers, etc., there are many sources of information constantly seeking our attention, triggering our response and affecting our psyche. Where are such habits of tuning into internet services, mobile services, etc., leading us? Jeremy Rifkin in his new book, The Empathic Civilization talks about the dawn of a new Third Industrial Civilization. The main feature is the sharing of information among millions of people, which is shaping the spatial and temporal orientation of human civilization. This also leads to greater differentiation of skills, greater connectivity, extension of empathy and expansion of consciousness about the Earth and nature. This is the era of distributed communication and energy systems leading to a distributed capitalism. It is ever more possible for individuals to collaborate with others in shared interest, and not only seek self-interest. Individuals can now potentially celebrate the shared positive outcomes of “the digital commons” rather than the self-interest only driven “tragedy of the commons,” which is Earth’s history as related to the use of natural, environmental and ecosystem resources.