Sunday, June 11, 2006

Information Hunger Pools The Data

Ignorance leads to pain. As we open our eyes at the beginning of life, we hunger for information. Living creatures, we strive to know all we can about the worlds through which we wander. We become anxious when something that we do not know enough about may affect us. To living creatures, information has value.

Information has value. Also, it costs almost nothing to copy. Value and direction of movement from one to another define a vector. Information wants to flow like rain wants to fall.

As information disperses, its value decreases. There are increasingly more sellers, there are fewer buyers. The wave of interest gets satisfied.

Since more and more information can be stored for lower and lower cost, the cost of ownership approaches the cost of acquisition. The cost of acquisition has devolved into a personal investment of time. Information disperses until no one wants to pay what it costs or to spend the time needed to acquire it.

This suggests that the end state of information movement may be a universal repository that is universally accessible because it is universally dispersed.

This repository is already here in virtual form. For a price, one can get almost any bit of information. Although the marketplace consists of information in transit, it is information that has been replicated from a source which the seller retains. Another copy can be sold. The set of these sources is a dispersed repository. There is a secondary market for information about this repository, indexes and Google for example, and this market unifies the repository in spite of its dispersal by making its information product universally accessible.

This dispersed but singular information repository may not seem real. It is virtual - until it is asked for data. Then it becomes as real as any web page that opens on the screen before you, which is itself a good example of this repository in action.

An interesting information war between government and the people appears now to be developing on two fronts.

First, the government is trying to record all it can about the people, their contacts, their purchases, their movements, their MySpace data and links. (Someday it may dare to ask their opinions.) Not everyone likes this. It's hard to choose a dish soap while the government is watching.

At the same time, people want to find out all they can about their government. They particularly want to know what their government knows about them. They want to find out who is pulling the strings.

There are things the government does not want the people to know about. Particularly, it doesn't want them to know what it knows about them. It may also want them not to learn how much money is getting spent on the trivial. Not to mention finding out who is pulling the strings.

But people are discovering that government secrecy covers interesting scandals, many of which involve wasted money. Money being short, the government is being called to account.

The information the government gets about the people is increasingly trivial.

The information people get about their government is increasingly entertaining. Increasingly valuable. A mandate for change, a call to action.

As the government develops its increasingly trivial repository on the people, the people develop their increasingly revelatory depository on the government.

If the government could begin to realize that there are things it will just never know, then boundaries on its packrat madness can become concievable.

Until then, one can only pay in cash and watch the circus.

This is getting to be more fun than Watergate.

P.S. To make life even more interesting, the government is now sending "National Security Letters" to those whom it wants to hush up. If you get one, save it! You can sell it on eBay in a few years for big money. Sell prints of it first for maximum return.


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