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Sunday, March 14, 2010

A NOTE FROM THE CHAIRMAN: The Price of Information

by Adam J. Kovitz

Two of my biggest passions are both education and the flow of information (although one can argue that they are one in the same).

At the recent South by Southwest Interactive Conference in Austin, Texas, one of the hot topics of conversation was "real-time web", or the concept of instantaneously broadcasting information over the internet as soon as it's created.

While currently great in theory, the main hindrance is that of people's privacy. Scott Raymond, founder of Gowalla, an Austin-based app development firm stated, "
It's kind of in our best interest, being selfish, if everyone was completely open with their data."

But being open with data is not something most people, especially corporations are apt to do. Proponents of open data sharing believe that all information on the web should be free. At The National Networker Companies, we certainly make our Intelligence Products freely available, but can everyone afford to do so?

Hypothetically speaking, if all information were free, how would people make money?

I remember seeing a very powerful advertisement around the turn of this past century on a commuter train (back in the days when I used to do that) for a company that I forgot; it showed two distinct pictures: one of the Milky Way Galaxy and another of a single star. The caption below the Milky Way simply stated, "Information", while the caption below the star stated, "Intelligence".

In a world of free information, I believe that money can still be made through the proper collecting, compiling and disseminating the data into "intelligence" and implementing such intelligence into products and services
for others.

But how does this effect education? I recently read that many state universities in the United States, due to State Budget Deficits, are being forced to raise tuition by as much as 30% for the 2010-2011 school year, putting many students in jeopardy of being turned away from a college education. From the standpoint of someone who considers themselves both a humanist, internationalist and futurist, this is of deep concern to me - we are failing as a society.

Yet it seems to me somewhat paradoxical that as more free information is made available daily (and increasingly so), the price of a college education is skyrocketing.

Should this trend keep up, there will be a "black market" for college education and degrees. Traditional Accreditation Boards that regulate and oversee standards in college education will lose power and be undermined as other "underground" ones are set up. Out of work educators stand to gain as they will set up non-traditional colleges and universities that are more affordable to the masses.

Corporations, looking for talent will first look for more traditional degrees but will be forced to accept such non-traditional degrees as the upcoming mass exodus of the baby boomer generation will leave plenty of job opportunities available in the next several years.

this possible future, might the education market be corrected?

I would hate to find these current times, one thing is for sure...we will continue seeing the struggling forces of reform versus status quo play out until there is demonstrable improvement not just for a small handful of people, but for everyone.

All my best,



The National Networker Companies

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The Emergence of The Relationship Economy

The Emergence of The Relationship Economy
The Emergence of the Relationship Economy features TNNWC Founder, Adam J. Kovitz as a contributing author and contains some of his early work on The Laws of Relationship Capital. The book is available in hardcopy and e-book formats. With a forward written by Doc Searls (of Cluetrain Manifesto fame), it is considered a "must read" for anyone responsible for the strategic direction of their business. If you would like to purchase your own copy, please click the image above.


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