The advent of the Internet brought globalization down to the middle class, and eventually even further. Those who could afford computers, or who lived in communities that offered free computer access in some form, could take part in a global community that focused on the exchange of information and ideas. Purchasing power went global as well – eventually, that is.
Previously, most people remained stuck within a very small range within which to select merchants. Massive corporate chains put down roots in most major communities within their operating region, but by and large people were restricted to what was in their immediate surroundings. That meant what they purchased was limited by what was offered, the market dictated almost wholly by supply and not so much by demand except when a merchant was willing to place special orders. And even those merchants were limited by their distributors. Such situations were supplemented by mail-order and similar services, but these were ultimately a rather small piece of the market.
Suddenly, the Internet opened up wide new markets, for merchants and customers both. Niche markets became easier to cater to, making hyper-specialization a sustainable practice for a merchant, while customers found it easier to explore a wider variety of options. For a brief period, known as the Dot Com Bubble, the Internet was the fastest-growing economic sector in the First World. Even after the Bubble “burst,” so to speak, various online merchants thrived, and many found a new life in filling an empty niche. And the social and intellectual life of the Internet grew in leaps and bounds in comparison, especially with the creation of social networking sites. There were no end of troubles, as is normal in any fledgeling system, but the bounties were numerous.
In comparison, the Post has been an almost complete economic reversal of the Internet, while only spreading its social and intellectual aspects to the ultimate end. The technology that enabled this matter is formally known, after the official project designation of its developers, as Nanoscale Matter Recombination. More popularly, minifacture or nanotech. (From a technical standpoint, “minifacture” refers to manufacturing performed by nanotech assembly tools, but the term has undergone genericization.)
Economically speaking, nanotech has destroyed all varieties of manufacturing industry. The last surviving such businesses were NMR producers themselves. Even this did not last very long. Attempts to control the propagation of nanotech colonies and production were soon brought low by the Internet itself. The NMR companies believed they had created “unpirateable” and uncrackable software locks with which to control the distribution and use of their minifacturing colonies, which were technically only leased and licensed for specific uses. By maintaining a rolling system of constant update and invalidation of old software standards and licenses, they were able to hold dominance over the market for a few short but disastrous years.