Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Jamais Cascio's Nature as an Information Economy

Nature as an Information Economy, a blog entry written by futurist Jamais Cascio on July 28, 2006

Includes an intriguing argument about how replicability and non-uniformity are what distinguish an information economy from an industrial and service economies

What makes the the information economy model different from industrial and service economies are two big factors: replicability and non-uniformity. Replicability means that information, especially digital information, can be copied without reducing its use value or its availability to the original possessor of the information. Biological aspects of an ecosystem clearly meet this condition, through the existence of DNA and built-in (if slow) copying mechanisms such as seeds. I can give you the "information" from my tree without losing value, even while you gain new value. Non-uniformity means that information has its greatest value in the context of other, different, kinds of information. Information can compete, leading to a "survival of the fittest" paradigm (a core concept of memetics), and can combine, leading to new kinds of information. In terms of ecosystems, diversity improves survivability, while uniformity increases vulnerability to threats (think here of monocultures).

He also ponders the participatory nature of knowledge production in an information ecomony, being a model of abundance.

If we think about nature in terms of information, however, the underlying model is abundance. Participants in the system create the most value for themselves not by hoarding or by passivity, but by adding more information into the system. The greater the amount and diversity of the ecosystem information, the more that can be done with the knowledge.

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