For decades, the measure of a country or region’s economic vitality has been the output of GDP [gross domestic product]. Lately, however, economists and other informed observers have been questioning the accuracy of GDP, as it tends to be based on industrial measures, and misses the ever-expanding mass of digital activity.
GDP fails to capture the explosive amount of free information goods available over the Internet, including Wikipedia articles, Google maps, Linux open source software and YouTube videos. While suitable when economies were dominated by the production of physical goods, GDP does not adequately capture the growing share of services and the production of increasingly complex solutions that characterise advanced economies. Nor does it reflect important economic activity beyond production, such as income, consumption and living standards.
According to the official GDP statistics, the information sector (software, publishing, motion picture and sound recording, broadcasting, telecom, and information and data processing services) is about the same share of the economy as it was 25 years ago - about 4%. Do we not have access to more information than ever before?