Unlike automobiles, toothpaste, appliances, or textiles, information products are not consumed one unit at a time. Rather, each product unit is designed to be utilized repeatedly by many, thus becoming more valuable with use. While the value of a single industrial product such as an automobile, refrigerator, or computer decreases with usage, the precisely opposite effect applies to an information or cultural product. A film, book, television program, or software product increases its value disproportionately the more it is used, viewed, or applied by increasing numbers of people.
Repeated usage is even further accelerated in a network environment such as the Global Internet. In fact, the rift between industrial economics and information economics has grown even wider with the introduction of infrastructure networks for facilitating distribution of ideas. The inherent tendencies of information economics to leverage the value of creative ideas with use have been steadily heightened in the deployment of networks such as theater networks, giant book store chains, and cable television. But with the Internet it is now possible to cultivate worldwide audiences in the millions with well-designed forms of intellectual and creative ideas—audio, video, text, or data—distributed digitally in cyberspace. The economic value of individual creative expression can now be augmented exponentially to a degree unknown in the economic history of nations. This is largely because, as a networked information system levitates the value of ideas and forms of expression, it causes even further heightening of demand for the same expression, thus creating an upward spiral in the spread of a specific form.