In a recent book review Tim Harford critiques a new over-the-top "futurology" book, and en passant notes:

Robert J. Gordon of Northwestern University has skeptically contrasted the Internet to five truly revolutionary technologies: electricity, the internal-combustion engine, bulk chemical processing, information technologies such as the telephone and the telegraph, and (funny but true) indoor plumbing. These astonishing clusters of innovation set a high benchmark for anyone claiming that change is about to accelerate today.

The reference is to Gordon's 2000 paper "Does the "New Economy" Measure up to the Great Inventions of the Past?" in the Journal of Economic Perspectives (draft versions are available free online). Gordon's analysis indicates that the productivity growth during the Internet "boom" of the late 1990's was mainly in the computer/telecommunications sector — and that the remaining 88% of the economy showed no real growth, or even declined. His paper also discusses in more detail the five "Great Inventions":

These five clusters of innovation led, during the first half of the 20th Century, to huge increases in living standards and productivity across the entire spectrum of society — not merely new ways of buying and selling stuff more quickly.

(cf. "Futurama" by Tim Harford in the Washington Post, 28 May 2006, and MoneyWisdom (20 May 2001), PopGoes (19 Jun 2001), BubbleBusters (6 Feb 2002), MoreFunLessStuff (1 Oct 2002), SocialWealth (18 May 2005), SteadyStateEconomy (11 Jun 2005), EcologicalEconomics (15 Sep 2005), ...)

TopicSociety - TopicEconomics - TopicScience - 2006-06-07

(correlates: SupplyAndDemand, DiplomatAtArms, Giant of Marathon, ...)