Back to work; Information in a network economy


Economists have some interesting views and some new concepts for describing and discussing the production and distribution of information, culture, and creativity in this new age dominated by the computer network.

  • When economists speak of information, they usually say that it is “nonrival.”  . . . We consider a good to be nonrival when its consumption by one person does not make it any less available for consumption by another.   . . .  From the perspective of a society’s overall welfare, the most efficient thing would be for those who possess information to give it away for free—or rather, for the cost of communicating it and no more. (Benkler, 2006)

Given this concept of nonrivalry and the lowly costs of  production and communication of information today, it is creativity that should be valued the most even though it may not be at the receiving end of the market reward system.  At the same time, “on the shoulders of giants” (the Isaac Newton attribution) reminds us that thoughts and ideas are not isolated.

“The creativity, experience, and cultural awareness necessary to take from the universe of existing information and cultural resources [Giant Shoulder] and turn them into new insights, symbols, or representations meaningful to others with whom we converse [ is dependent on communication].   [However] [g]iven the zero cost of existing information and the declining cost of communication and processing, human capacity becomes the primary scarce resource in the networked information economy.” (Emphasis added) (Benkler, 2006)

Benkler,Yochai  (2006) Wealth of Networks , Yale University Press, New Haven and London   http://www.benkler.org/Benkler_Wealth_Of_Networks.pdf

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