Monday, February 25, 2013

Information Wants to Flow and Has a Life of Its Own

The information age has significantly changed our world in many ways. Those who control and can harness the power of information have a distinct advantage in many regards. Those who don't especially in business can find themselves in last place. Okay so, how do you deal with these realities in business? Well, I'd like to recommend a very good book to you to help you navigate this serious issue;

"The Social Life of Information," by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid, HBR - Harvard Business Review, Boston, MA, 2000, 336 pages, 978-08758-4762-7.

This book is great and although their predictions were not totally perfect they were close enough and much better than those of most of the futurists whose works I've followed. The authors predicted the eventual end of newspapers, magazines, and most mass media, as well as the convergence of the Internet and TV. They predicted the paperless revolution, and the change of office work as we know it along with the potential end of the University, at least as it sits now. Finally they had considered the end of bureaucracy due to the future e-Government, or e-Republic.

The authors also discussed complete artificial intelligent information technology and enterprise software revolution of our modern-day corporations. Of course, they also explained the limits to information and the need for a semantic web, something that actually understood what you were asking for, not just feeding willy-nilly information in bulk. Why were these authors so right on? Well, one worked at Xerox Parc in the very beginning of the Internet and information technology era, I imagine that had something to do that.

Still, they explained there were challenges with such things as paperless office, and how it was slow on its uptake. In fact, the authors noted that there were more printed reports, files, and faxes still being copied, so it hasn't really decreased the use of paper. Then, we still have copy machines in offices and HP has made hay combining them into five-in-one printers in their image division. The authors describe how bots can be destructive, start price wars, and it makes me wonder if they also predicted the challenges of the flash crashes in our stock market through algorithmic trading schemes.

Indeed, I can definitely recommend this book to you, it is one that I personally own, and it is a very good book to reflect on where we've been, and where we are potentially going with information technology. In this new era of big data, it's even more important that you understand these things, and the evolution of IT technologies. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.

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