Inequality of information

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quintopia
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Inequality of information

Postby quintopia » Wed Nov 19, 2008 9:48 am UTC

This is a question I posed in another thread that didn't get any response, so I guess it needs its own thread:

How can we bring about the freedom and abundance of information? What are the impediments in the current system to getting information from the hands of those that exploit their monopoly over it to those that are exploited because they lack it?

In my mind this is the most important question to answer for a modern revolution to occur, and I know that the answer is connected to the internet and ubiquitous computing, but I lack the information about circumstances to guess at the specifics. Any ideas?


To be clear what I mean, I'm talking about
1) Manufacturing companies have control over how their products are used and even modified by the end user, because they have more information about their products than do the end users.
2) People who know a lot of people and their secrets have greater control over government because it gives them a modicum of control over those people.
3) More information means you can make more money. This is why there is a correlation between someone's income and their education level. Stratification of society is correlated to concentration of knowledge.
4) Negative externalities wouldn't be so negative if they weren't so subtle and hidden from view. Making sure these things were disclosed at the earliest opportunity in such a way that it reached the most people would greatly increase the likelihood of them being resolved or addressed and not just covered up.

The list could go on, and feel free to add things to it or expand upon the ones I've listed. I am being purposely general, because I would like a general way of addressing all these problems. In particular, a way of disseminating all kinds of information to the widest population possible, whether or not those people choose to go looking for that information. It should just be easily available. This is something that even Google can't promise currently.

To be very clear: I'm not talking just about freedom of information. Yes, I think there should be more information that is more free, but that's not enough. I'm talking about creating a system where everyone has pretty much the same amount of information about everything that concerns them as anyone else. Even if all information were freely available, there's still a matter of ensuring it gets into the hands of everyone with only a minimum of effort on their part. For example, just about everyone in the U.S. knows about Wal-Mart because of the effectiveness of the dissemination of that information via advertising (which in the growth of such companies is often in the word-of-mouth form), but it is far less common for people to know about the way in which Wal-Mart's business policies encourage producers of basic commodities to move toward exploitative labor (although Wal-Mart does not, of course, endorse any such thing) because no one has even given them any reason to even begin researching the subject. You can't get information about an issue you don't even know exists.

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Re: Inequality of information

Postby TheStranger » Wed Nov 19, 2008 12:00 pm UTC

Most of that information is freely available. It just takes a great deal of time and effort to compile it, and a touch of smarts to understand it. There is also far to much information out there to understood by one individual.

For myself I'd love something along the lines of a "Department of Statistics and Measurements" whose sole reason for being is to compile large amounts of data and make it publicity available.
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Re: Inequality of information

Postby tantalum » Wed Nov 19, 2008 3:18 pm UTC

I myself was very much like you at one point, in that I believed that information should be readily available in any subject you could think of - and when an issue comes up, I would be able to research and decide for myself. A friend pointed out to me, though: What's the point of having doctors if you don't trust them to make the right decision for you? As already mentioned, there is far too much information for one individual to handle... let the system do its job by allocating people to master their specific subfield. It is not "unfair" for you to pay a doctor for information that you could have found yourself. It is merely paying them for the time that you didn't have to spend learning it yourself.

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Re: Inequality of information

Postby Chen » Wed Nov 19, 2008 4:56 pm UTC

The internet already provides an enormous amount of information to anyone who has access to it. Already computers are becoming prolific everywhere in the world. Given more time I'd wager the vast majority of the people on the planet will have access to the internet.

Secret information (such as corporate or governmental secrets) are generally secret for a reason. If competition (or enemies) obtained said information it could end be disastrous for those who have said secrets. I see no reason why ALL information need be available for everyone to access. Not everyone needs to know how product X is made or how product Y is repaired. Specializing in a field to gain that specialized knowledge has a cost (usually time) associated with it. How to build a particular jet engine costs a company an enormous amount of time and consequently money. I don't see the reason why some random other company should have access to that information and be able to profit from someone elses effort.

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Re: Inequality of information

Postby Indon » Wed Nov 19, 2008 5:06 pm UTC

tantalum wrote:I myself was very much like you at one point, in that I believed that information should be readily available in any subject you could think of - and when an issue comes up, I would be able to research and decide for myself. A friend pointed out to me, though: What's the point of having doctors if you don't trust them to make the right decision for you? As already mentioned, there is far too much information for one individual to handle... let the system do its job by allocating people to master their specific subfield. It is not "unfair" for you to pay a doctor for information that you could have found yourself. It is merely paying them for the time that you didn't have to spend learning it yourself.


The thing is, there are a lot of information holders which we really can't trust to handle information.

Take software creators. End-User Licencing Agreements for most software makes you promise you won't look into how it works - and then Sony goes and installs a rootkit on your computer. Legally, nobody was even allowed to analyze the software to figure out that Sony was installing malicious code on people's computers, because that's their information, and you have no choice but to trust them. Oops.

How about trade secrets. Food makers don't have to divulge the chemical composition of the food they produce because someone else might just up and copy their 'secret ingredients' and whathaveyou. Luckily, America has very strong regulations in this area, so that a company just can't up and surprise you with a product whose secret ingredient is poison. And you thought there couldn't be anything that made those 11 secret herbs and spices sound more appetizing.

I guess I should make my point more clear: Anytime information inequality can be exploited against a consumer, it's a matter of time before it will be.

Doctors, for instance, pay significantly for liability insurance in the event of malpractice, and if they screw up, their rates will increase. A doctor can't get away with betraying your trust without you getting an opportunity to make them pay for it.

So really, while I don't think information disclosure needs to be universal, I do think the only alternative to free and total disclosure is a harsh legal system that punishes the slightest of abuses.
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Re: Inequality of information

Postby quintopia » Wed Nov 19, 2008 9:38 pm UTC

I think perhaps some of you have missed the point. This thread is called "inequality of information" for a reason. The goal is to make sure everyone has easy access to the same amount of information, not to make sure that every gets all the information all the time. It's about a balancing of who holds the information that is the most powerful. The worst part is, if someone has information that they use to become more powerful than you, then if that information were readily accessible, then you could just get it yourself. The problem is when you don't even know which information it is or that it exists at all, or worse, that the power imbalance came as a result of an information imbalance in the first place.

So, it's not about finding out about things that you shouldn't know about or trying to specialize in every possible field, it's about getting a handle on power distribution.

Here's an idea: expert groups for hire. If it were possible to bid a small amount of money to an expert group to research a certain idea, summarize it, and turn it into a plan of action for you, then there is no issue of having to put time into a field. Even if you can't trust some experts, if you spread the information acquisition over a large unrelated group, that may balance out. Plus, the experts can compile the information for a micro-royalty and sell it for that micro-royalty again and again and again, by databasing what they learned/know, and what they have already told others.

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Re: Inequality of information

Postby frezik » Wed Nov 19, 2008 9:56 pm UTC

Widespread Internet access (at least in Western lands) already got us most of the way there. Yes, there are still limitations, ranging from insider trading to classified military secrets, but the Revolution already won when the US government failed to stop PGP from spreading.

The major limitation now isn't on getting information, but in finding good information, and then processing it.
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Re: Inequality of information

Postby Indon » Wed Nov 19, 2008 10:02 pm UTC

quintopia wrote:The goal is to make sure everyone has easy access to the same amount of information, not to make sure that every gets all the information all the time.

Giving everyone access to the same information is equivalent to creating a disclosure and distribution system for all information.

Everyone needs to disclose in such a system because individuals will have access to undisclosed information in addition to the system, introducing an equality.

The system can have no distribution controls, because individuals with freer distribution will have access to more of the system than those with restrictions.

I don't believe such a system would be viable to implement.

quintopia wrote:Here's an idea: expert groups for hire. If it were possible to bid a small amount of money to an expert group to research a certain idea, summarize it, and turn it into a plan of action for you, then there is no issue of having to put time into a field. Even if you can't trust some experts, if you spread the information acquisition over a large unrelated group, that may balance out. Plus, the experts can compile the information for a micro-royalty and sell it for that micro-royalty again and again and again, by databasing what they learned/know, and what they have already told others.


Your proposal already exists, they are generally called contractors. Also, turns out, keeping information proprietary is much more profitable than releasing it to just anybody, because information is power, and people will pay for that.
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Re: Inequality of information

Postby quintopia » Wed Nov 19, 2008 11:06 pm UTC

I said: "The goal is to make sure everyone has easy access to the same amount of information"
You said: "Giving everyone access to the same information. . ."

so we are comparing apples and oranges.

And my proposal doesn't exist in the way I am proposing: that one pays a very small fee, and anyone that thinks they can provides an answer, and other people compile the answers, and everyone gets paid according to their input, and there is very little effort on the part of the asker. (Coming up with the question is the hard part.) Basically a system where people have to information to contribute some small amount of information to the people who need it without having to do extra work . . . the royalties build up for them because the buyers are not allowed any exclusivity on the data collected, and therefore the data gets sold over and over and over.

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Re: Inequality of information

Postby Kaiyas » Thu Nov 20, 2008 3:50 am UTC

quintopia wrote:I said: "The goal is to make sure everyone has easy access to the same amount of information"
You said: "Giving everyone access to the same information. . ."

so we are comparing apples and oranges.

Not quite.

Indon's trying to say that if everyone has different information in equal amounts, and there is a medium to transfer it, inevitably everyone will have access to all known information, therefore everyone having access to the same information.

As a corollary, we need that medium. Historically paper, speeches, the press, and more recently the internet. What's blocking all this is the ridiculous amount of misinformation these same sources provide. Clean up the mess, everyone knows everything. Which may or may not be the best thing. :roll:
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Re: Inequality of information

Postby Vaniver » Thu Nov 20, 2008 4:51 am UTC

I'm not sure you can easily get rid of asymmetric information, because it's a question of time as much as it is access. With access to the internet and a membership of some large institution that has journal access, you can educate yourself on almost any subject- but if it took the doctor months to learn about the underlying mechanics for this condition, how long will it take you when you have to figure out what the hell a neurotransmitter is?

The internet does a lot to increase accessibility, but dealing with the time it takes to learn something isn't really something you can do.
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Re: Inequality of information

Postby Indon » Thu Nov 20, 2008 4:09 pm UTC

quintopia wrote:I said: "The goal is to make sure everyone has easy access to the same amount of information"
You said: "Giving everyone access to the same information. . ."

Please describe a way to distinguish having an amount of information from having a specific set of information, and if you're really up for a challenge, describe a way to compare the size of two sets of information by that amount metric.

Kaiyas mostly had it right, but I'd take it a step further and say that there's no meaningful way to quantify 'amounts' of information, especially since the value of information is generally only gaugable after that value is being realized.
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Re: Inequality of information

Postby Chen » Thu Nov 20, 2008 5:30 pm UTC

quintopia wrote:And my proposal doesn't exist in the way I am proposing: that one pays a very small fee, and anyone that thinks they can provides an answer, and other people compile the answers, and everyone gets paid according to their input, and there is very little effort on the part of the asker. (Coming up with the question is the hard part.) Basically a system where people have to information to contribute some small amount of information to the people who need it without having to do extra work . . . the royalties build up for them because the buyers are not allowed any exclusivity on the data collected, and therefore the data gets sold over and over and over.


Once again, the internet is already fairly close to this type of thing, except the lack of a charging system. For any host of problems that come up you can generally find SOME information out there. The time commitment falls on the person asking the question (to do the research) and I don't see the problem in this. Perhaps I am misunderstanding the idea, but with the vast amount of information out there that is readily available to people I don't see how this is really an issue unless you're talking about secret information (corporate, government etc).

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Re: Inequality of information

Postby btilly » Thu Nov 20, 2008 8:52 pm UTC

This is impossible.

The problem is simple. I have a better memory and more interest in intellectual topics than most people in the general public. (I don't mean to brag, I assume that many other people in this discussion can honestly say the same thing.) Therefore on many topics I have more accumulated knowledge. Without even accessing an external resource I'll know more. But on top of that I've developed a skill of using publicly available information more efficiently. So with the exact same tools and exact same resources, I can more readily find things out. Therefore unless you impose draconian restrictions to make quality tools unavailable people like me, some of us will naturally have more information on things that concern us.

Furthermore the internet does not just level the playing field - it also makes the extremes more extreme! This may seem to be an absurd claim given how many people now have access to more resources than ever before in history. However Zipf's law says that the most productive person around is on average about twice as productive as the second most productive one, and about 10 times as productive as the 10th. Zipf's law has been observed in many areas, and it most definitely has been found in areas of intellectual activity. (eg Random example: papers published by scientists.) Therefore when you provide leveled access to a wider pool of people, the absolute gap between the best and the rest gets bigger.

Furthermore I submit that this is a good thing. Because we all benefit from the accomplishments of the top few. For instance the computer that I am typing on benefits greatly from the inequality of ability that Linus Torvalds represents.

See http://www.shirky.com/writings/powerlaw_weblog.html for a well-known essay on this topic.
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Re: Inequality of information

Postby quintopia » Fri Nov 21, 2008 1:07 am UTC

I'll admit there is no metric for measuring the amount of power inherent in a given piece of information before that information is being put to use, but that's not a problem. If we have enough other information, it should be easy to find out where power is concentrated, and search out the information that conveys that power.

@Chen: The internet is a great example of an imbalance of information. Less than a quarter of the earth's population has internet access. It's a good thing this fraction is increasing at a greater rate than the population is growing, but there's a simple reason for that: access to more information creates a positive feedback loop that leads to access to even more information.

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Re: Inequality of information

Postby btilly » Fri Nov 21, 2008 2:11 am UTC

quintopia wrote:I'll admit there is no metric for measuring the amount of power inherent in a given piece of information before that information is being put to use, but that's not a problem. If we have enough other information, it should be easy to find out where power is concentrated, and search out the information that conveys that power.

The information of how to access Bill Gates' bank account conveys a great amount of power. Who should we give it to in the name of leveling the playing field?

That's the problem with trying to enforce equality. At some point enforcing equality requires taking something that would have been available to one person and making it available to another. If you do this too aggressively, you generate negative consequences that reduce motivation to the detriment of us all.
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Re: Inequality of information

Postby Indon » Fri Nov 21, 2008 4:07 pm UTC

quintopia wrote:I'll admit there is no metric for measuring the amount of power inherent in a given piece of information before that information is being put to use, but that's not a problem. If we have enough other information, it should be easy to find out where power is concentrated, and search out the information that conveys that power.

But information is continually generated, as well. How could your system be able to deal with that?
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Re: Inequality of information

Postby Chen » Fri Nov 21, 2008 4:52 pm UTC

quintopia wrote:@Chen: The internet is a great example of an imbalance of information. Less than a quarter of the earth's population has internet access. It's a good thing this fraction is increasing at a greater rate than the population is growing, but there's a simple reason for that: access to more information creates a positive feedback loop that leads to access to even more information.


Yes granted, but its the framework or concept that was what I was getting at. Just like almost everyone on the planet can NOW use a sharp object to cut food with I'd wager that eventually everyone will have access to a computer and consequently the internet. Barring a willingness to NOT progress (a tribe wanting to stay secluded, Amish people etc) its just the way things are heading. I cannot even fathom a system that would globally provide anywhere near the amount of information that the internet does but is somehow MORE available.

The real problem with this type of thing is that information is NOT a free resource. Some information (such as the aforementioned Bill Gates' bank account number) is far more valuable than other information. Some information can be genuinely considered free. A lot of other information cannot. With regard to the information that is not free, giving everyone access to it would be akin to giving everyone access to the same amount of money. Until we live in a star trekesque type world where they somehow surmounted the need for individual wealth I cannot see this happening.

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Re: Inequality of information

Postby Velifer » Fri Nov 21, 2008 6:42 pm UTC

For myself I'd love something along the lines of a "Department of Statistics and Measurements" whose sole reason for being is to compile large amounts of data and make it publicity available.

Hi. I don't get to go to cabinet meetings or anything, but once I saw the governor speak. I report to someone who reports to someone who reports to the assistant deputy director of our agency. Anyway, that's what they pay me to do--crunch numbers for the Man and send out pretty little reports to people.

This information you speak of, are you going to share as well? Please post the time, date, and nature of your last bowel movement. Pictures, number of sheets used for wiping, etc. Also, your complete medical history. Privacy is more important than access.

Do you know how much information is out there? You really want to be able to access the seasonal fluctuations in the growth of my fingernails? Sort through that to find something that to you has meaning? Volume is overwhelming, and to hell with Moore's law.

Tell me everything you know. Do it for free. I expect the same from tutors, teachers, professors, colleges. Conveyance is a commodity.

How are you going to bet this hand? What cards are you holding? Information has value, and obtaining such provides competitive advantage.

How long did it take you to finish your last history paper? Acquisition and assimilation are skillsets that take time and talent.

Welcome to the information age. Get comfortable.
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Re: Inequality of information

Postby Felstaff » Fri Nov 21, 2008 8:57 pm UTC

Two aspects to dwivel on:

1.) Who gets to decide what information is pertinent enough to release into the public domain? Take, for example, the following three pieces of information:
  • The location of a hostile nation's nuclear missile silo;
  • The size, colour, and viscosity of Velifer's last bowel movement, and time of expulsion, plus a rating out of ten for delivery
  • Felstaff's (sexy) medical history, including that one time it felt like the doctor struck a match off his meatus
I would intimate that nobody has the right to find the last two in their local Department of Statistics & Measurements. If I were of the hostile nation in question, I would be a little peeved that the first and third were freely available as well. I would also write a strongly worded letter to the bureaucrat who decided that those pieces of information were relevant enough to know.

2.) I think there should be a recognised difference between 'information' and 'knowledge'. I say this because I get this inkling that ITT, posters have assumed that just because information becomes available, it can automatically be understood and ingested by the recipient. It cannot. If CERN should release all its data on Elerium-115, precious few but the most theoretical of biophysichemistologists will understand. Those that do? Well, they are probably already working for their mortal enemies and most devious of competitors (communists), which would be to the detriment of CERN, and all that money it makes. This has twisted from a point about assimilation of knowledge to a point about communist sympathisers stealing competitor secrets, which is anti-competitive. So we'll make this three things to dwivel on.

Finally, a response to the OP:
quintopia wrote:1) Manufacturing companies have control over how their products are used and even modified by the end user, because they have more information about their products than do the end users.
Competition between companies means that the internal machinations of products are kept secret until the model is released and the patent accepted, and then Disney or Apple or Herpeez Pizza Chain can slap a fat ™ or ® over their creation. Releasing information before this point means that the company loses out, and thus there would be no drive for innovation. In terms of Apple, I think that their draconian method of how one listens to one's own material on an Apple product needs to be busted wide open. Although, I do encourage open source publishing by people who have inspected Apple's creation and legally altered it themselves, to publish information on how to legally alter it so I can play Doom on my iPod!
quintopia wrote:3) More information means you can make more money. This is why there is a correlation between someone's income and their education level. Stratification of society is correlated to concentration of knowledge.
Correction: more information means that the corporation you work for makes more money. Unless you own that company, there's a filter-down in place, as it is the company that sets your wages. It's the capitalist model that the majority of the world is part of. I, for one, think it works, because it encourages more technological development and innovation. I'm aware I've used that word twice now, but it's the fora's secret word of the day, and I want recognition.
quintopia wrote:4) Negative externalities wouldn't be so negative if they weren't so subtle and hidden from view. Making sure these things were disclosed at the earliest opportunity in such a way that it reached the most people would greatly increase the likelihood of them being resolved or addressed and not just covered up.
The ugliest, and most useful self-preservation aspect of humanity is that of the secret/lie combination. I probably wouldn't be more negative of you if you did indeed furnish me with information such as you have sexual fantasies over that picture of a horse you came across on wikipedia. However, why would you want to let me know you're a hippophiliac? We've only just met, and I was wondering why you chose the San Diego zoo, of all places, for a first date. As for your hidden 'information', you would deny it (the lie part) or simply not let the world know (the secret part). It's humanity, and it's kept the species chugging along for several hundred thousand years now. (Maybe the dinosaurs lasted a lot longer cause they could keep secrets better?)
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Re: Inequality of information

Postby TheStranger » Sat Nov 22, 2008 1:50 am UTC

Velifer wrote:
For myself I'd love something along the lines of a "Department of Statistics and Measurements" whose sole reason for being is to compile large amounts of data and make it publicity available.


This information you speak of, are you going to share as well? Please post the time, date, and nature of your last bowel movement. Pictures, number of sheets used for wiping, etc. Also, your complete medical history. Privacy is more important than access.


I never did qualify what kind of information would be included... but I'd imagine a combination of public records / census data and scientific data.
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Re: Inequality of information

Postby Silas » Sat Nov 22, 2008 4:32 am UTC

TheStranger wrote:I never did qualify what kind of information would be included... but I'd imagine a combination of public records / census data and scientific data.

So... you want the Freedom of Information Act, except... see, this is where you lost me. What new thing do you want?
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Re: Inequality of information

Postby Yakk » Sat Nov 22, 2008 9:04 am UTC

There is an easy solution to this. Kill every human on earth, then everyone will have equal information vacuously.

You could also try to attack the people who have more information, and punish knowing information.

The thing is, producing information isn't cheap. You talk about a service to find something out cheaply -- but it takes a lot of effort to gain the expertise, look at the raw data, produce information that can be easily digested by someone with or without the same expertise.

Solving, say, fusion is just a matter of producing the relatively small amount of information that describes how to build the power plant.

If that information existed, it could be incredibly valuable in an essential sense. It also happens to be extremely expensive, in terms of person-years of effort, to figure out (based off of the huge number of person-years of effort put into it).

And there are many such problems that are equally if not more difficult (how difficult? another extremely hard to generate piece of information). Much of the difference between modern industrial society and starving hunter gatherers is information (not all of it -- some of it is in the form of infrastructure). Producing more information that lifts society to an even greater height is something that is very important, at least to people who care about absolute well being.

Your position seems to be "nevermind absolute well being -- let's concentrate on relative well being". Suppose you could decide between two different societies -- one in which everyone is as well off as the average South Korean, and there is little inequality. In the other, the mean (average) well being is roughly 10 times higher than the USA (there are various metrics), but there exist people who are as poor as the average american is today, and others who are amazingly rich. I view the second as a better situation. You may disagree.

The spreading around of things can cause problems with the allocation of resources to generate those things. It takes serious amounts of effort to generate new information of value. There is more demand for information than there is people able to supply it. Some rationing system must exist. Under the current model, you often get exclusive access to some information in exchange for generating it -- this is often limited in time and scope. This means that if information is of high value, there is lots of incentive to figure it out. And if it is of low value, then there is less incentive.

Now there are alternative economic models that allocate resources. The academic economic system has often been described as a gift economy -- the academics with the most status are those who have given the best gifts to society in the form of papers. These papers are published openly (the more openly, the better for the status of the gift-giver). Support for this academic system is based off of society taxing itself, and tossing money into it, hoping that it spins off useful information.

Of note is the fact that such gift-giving societies are not that good at doing the nitty-gritty application part of the problem. The study of academic - industry technology transfer, and how much better industry is at bringing the technology to work on the problems reality presents people with, is a subject of academic and civic interest.

Any of this make sense? In short, I'm trying to argue that divorcing the problems production and distribution of a given good is not a reasonable position. There are very powerful systems that tie the "you made X" with "you have ownership rights over X" that seem to generate a ridiculous amount of productivity and efficiency. Giving up those systems means that you either need to produce a system that can match that level of productivity and efficiency (and test it! Theory is easy, practice is hard), or you have to accept a massive reduction in the efficiency and productivity of the processes. In this case, a massive decrease in the quality and quantity of useful information produced and applied.

Information isn't just raw data. Information is what you get when you take data, and make it usable. And that is not cheap.
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TheStranger
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Re: Inequality of information

Postby TheStranger » Sat Nov 22, 2008 12:50 pm UTC

Silas wrote:
TheStranger wrote:I never did qualify what kind of information would be included... but I'd imagine a combination of public records / census data and scientific data.

So... you want the Freedom of Information Act, except... see, this is where you lost me. What new thing do you want?


all that data loaded into a publicly accessible db... something where if I wanted to learn how many Toyota Civics were registered in Boise Idaho I could just go and say
select count(unique)
from cars
where lower(state) = "idaho" and lower(city) = "boise"... well you get the idea.
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Postby Felstaff » Sat Nov 22, 2008 6:15 pm UTC

Essentially a Wikipedia for statistics, then, containing (mainly companies?) information, such as address, date of establishment, stocks/shares & other financial information, products sold, cost of products (comparison), press releases, product dimensions, and other general company information? Hell, you can even have a look at their OrgChart.

'Cause the internet already holds that kind of info, you just have to know where to look. Also this information can be found, and put in a nice report, if you wish to pay for it. Say that information took twelve minutes to accumulate, that's twelve minutes of somebody's time, and it only contains a fraction of a percentage of information that would ideally be included on such a global database. Bottom line = expensive, and people don't work for free, so this database will have to be paid for, and, like I said, such a database can already be provided by many companies who have the information. I worked for one such company.

As for Toyota sales. I can't find regional sales information, but there is global infoImage available.
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Re: Inequality of information

Postby btilly » Sun Nov 23, 2008 8:31 am UTC

TheStranger wrote:
Silas wrote:
TheStranger wrote:I never did qualify what kind of information would be included... but I'd imagine a combination of public records / census data and scientific data.

So... you want the Freedom of Information Act, except... see, this is where you lost me. What new thing do you want?

all that data loaded into a publicly accessible db... something where if I wanted to learn how many Toyota Civics were registered in Boise Idaho I could just go and say
select count(unique)
from cars
where lower(state) = "idaho" and lower(city) = "boise"... well you get the idea.

Heh, you wanted to equalize access to information? Let me tell you, if you give me, a random software developer with basic SQL, and a random member of the general public equal access to a database like you describe, it will quickly become apparent that I have the most access to information, the software developer is second, and the member of the general public is pretty much lost!

(Explanatory note. Extracting complex information out of relational databases is my job. I mean that literally - my job title is "Reporting Architect".)
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