Marc Porat coined the term “information economy” in the 1970s. There was an information revolution in the air in the early 1970s shares Porat and that was the subject of his PhD thesis at Stanford in 1976.
Porat grew up in the 1960s during a period of revolution as he puts it. In the US there were 5 revolutions going on in the 1960s Porat says. They were the the movement against the Vietnam war, the feminist movement, civil rights movement, environmental movement and counter-culture movement. These 5 revolutions had a huge impact not only on Porat but many people who grew up during this period.
What Porat and others learnt from these revolutions is “rules as given to us by society are arbitrary…we had the right to re-think them…what they now call to be disruptive,” he explains. “I was interested in another revolution which was the information revolution.” This change was coming and he knew it was going to be technology-driven. This was the subject of his thesis where he documented the rise of information economy and looked specifically at the US and how the workforce was undergoing a change.
After finishing his PhD at Stanford, Porat joined Aspen Institute and then went on to join Apple and co-found General Magic along with Bill Atkinson and Andy Hertzfeld. General Magic’s goal was to create a “pocket crystal” or an intelligent communicator for the post-PC world. General Magic was spun off from Apple in 1990 and raised millions of dollars but failed to achieve its goal. However General Magic’s ideas did not fail and continues to live in smart devices like the iPhone and the Android phone.
This video a highlight of our upcoming extended interview with Porat about General Magic and why they failed to succeed.
There is a documentary on General Magic that releases in May 2019.