On “The Digitization of Just About Everything”

“The Digitization of Just About Everything” by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee focuses on the digital age and how the digital age changed the way certain concepts are used. For example, if previously “Hey, have you heard about…” was a phrase that implied name of a band, restaurant, place to visit, TV show, book, or movie in the end, now this phase often goes with a name of a website or an app. Or, how with the advent of digital age, the information became non-rival rather than remained rival (unlike information on paper/in books, digital information cannot really be used up)


One of the things that I particularly enjoyed about this reading is how well the terms that are used explained. For example, for a person who knows what “non-rival” information is and what “zero marginal cost of reproduction” means exactly, the idea of a chapter is delivered within the first paragraph or two. However, thinking of the people who are not familiar with what non-rival means or what a marginal cost is, Brynjolfsson and McAfee explain the meaning of those terms in a very simple language using basic examples.


Having read the whole article, I think that the points brought up about what it takes to make any kind of digital product, be it an app or a website, are crucial when it comes to how people perceive digital content. In my opinion, many people take for granted a lot of very useful digital products they use. A great example would be Google translate, as mentioned in the reading. Yes, the computer was not actually taught human languages according all the rules that any language follows, but someone still had to write a program that would scan all the documents it has in its database (in both the language you are using and looking to translate into) and look for a close match in a matter of a second. People still complain about the quality of the translation, despite that this huge body of information was not cheap to generate. Yes, this information is cheap to replicate, but that does not mean that it does not require effort to put everything together so that it actually works as well as it does. And when people depreciate someone’s effort just because they do not realize about that amount of effort that was put into something, it is upsetting.