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Economics in Wired: Two Articles Worth Reading

By Chris | June 23, 2009

I came across two recent articles in Wired that I found really interesting.  Here’s a brief overview and commentary:

Tech Is Too Cheap to Meter: It’s Time to Manage for Abundance, Not Scarcity
It costs Netflix about a nickel to stream a 2 hour movie to your PC.  Wired editor Chris Anderson argues that data storage and processing is so cheap that we need to rethink the way we manage it.   He ridicules antiquated policies like the one employed by my university’s IT department.  Once a student’s small email quota is exceeded, the student is bombarded with requests to delete old messages.  Anderson is right on when he says that time is scarce, data is cheap.  To go one step further, I’d note that while data is abundant, analysis is scarce.  Our ability to determine relevance is getting better, but there is lots of room for improvement.  The more data we have, the more important it becomes to filter it effectively.

What Kind of Genius Are You?
This article by Daniel Pink opens with the following excerpt from a Harvard art lecture.  “Pablo Picasso did this copy of a Raphael drawing when he was 17 years old,” the professor told the students. “What have you people done lately?”  Pink examines the work of University of Chicago economics professor David Galenson.  Galenson compared the value of all sorts of rare art to age of the artist at the time of creation.  He found two patterns emerging.  Successful artists were one of two types: Conceptual or Experimental innovators.  The former do their best work early in their career by challenging prevailing trends and radically changing their field.  Experimental innovators, on the other hand, work through trial and error practicing their trade until they produce something truly exceptional.  I’d like to read Galenson’s work.  In some ways his theory seems safe and ambiguous.  All great work has to be done at some point in someone’s life.  But I’m intrigued by the economic study of creativity.  Creativity is the soul of economic growth.  Where does it come from?  How do we foster it as a society?  And how can we be creative in our own work?  These are questions worth exploring.

Topics: Economics, Opportunities, Psychology | No Comments »