Monday, July 03, 2006

IAI is moving from the economy to the society

Instantly Accessible Information (IAI) is a central feature of the Google-Mart Economy. As Toffler points out in Revolutionary Wealth, the society's relationship to time is changing in a fundamental way.

Time delay has always been a central strategy of maintaining the information advantage. Decisions have to be made in real time. Information delivered too late to inform a decision is no longer useful information. As the expectation of IAI becomes mainstream, it will become much more difficult to claim authority merely by claiming to have access to better information.

We saw it first in the financial industries, where time is most clearly related to money. It is now moving quickly through retail, service and manufacturing industries. The wave is just now starting to reach some of civil society's central institutions - education and government.

The enterprises in these sectors are particularly vulernable. They were formed in information scarce environments, and many have based their value creation on their information advantage. As that advantage slips away, the very basis of their power and authority will inevitably be redefined in fundamental ways.

They will be forced to innovate to maintain their position. As in business, so in education and government, flawless execution and information based decisions will be increasingly demanded by the customer.

The story is starting to appear in the mainstream media.

On Higher Ed:
Which colleges are really delivering $30,000 per year of value?

Panel's Draft Report Calls for an Overhaul of Higher Education Nationwide - New York Times:
"Nearly every aspect of higher education in America needs fixing, according to a draft report of a national commission that calls for an overhaul of the student financial aid system, better cost controls by colleges and universities and more proof of results, including testing.

The report by the panel appointed last year by Education Secretary Margaret Spellings was highly critical of the nation's institutions of higher education. It said there was a lack of accountability to show that students were learning, that college costs have risen too high, and that 'unacceptable numbers of college graduates' were entering the workforce without skills that employers say they need.

In addition, the draft said, 'rising costs, combined with a confusing, inadequate financial aid system, leave some students struggling to pay for education that, paradoxically, is of uneven and at times dubious quality.'"

And in government
Here is an issue on which both left and right agree. There are no cultural divides. It is only the professional politicians who have problems with it.

But what will happen to a political system where many of the primary incentives are based on the power to control resource allocation, with almost no personal accountability?

On Right and Left, a Push for Government Openness - New York Times:
Published: July 3, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 2 — Exasperated by his party's failure to cut government spending, Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, is seeking cyberhelp.

Jamie Rose for The New York Times

Mark Tapscott of The Washington Examiner has promoted the spending database in that newspaper and on his blog, Tapscott's Copy Desk.

Mr. Coburn wants to create a public database, searchable over the Internet, that would list most government contracts and grants — exposing hundreds of billions in annual spending to instant desktop view

Type in 'Halliburton,' the military contractor, or 'Sierra Club,' the environmental group, for example, and a search engine would show all the federal money they receive. "

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