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Economics of Knowledge or How Knowledge is Flat

What would you think if I told you that ignorance and knowledge are actually knitted together? While we don’t perceive knowledge and ignorance as to the same thing, knowledge and ignorance are basically the pieces that enable us to participate in the information exchange market.

Let’s dare to extend the analogy and say that the whole market size is a great puzzle. If we continue this path, you should always keep your ego at bay and think: “I don’t know more than you and you don’t know more than me, we just hold different pieces of information, which we can put together for building great things.” This is where the flatness of the knowledge shows off.

Knowledge can be two-dimensional in the sense of both a horizontal axis (a breadth of diverse topics you might just be aware of its existence) and a vertical axis (the depth of a specific topic, towards knowing the most you can). However, it can also never be accumulated without sacrificing other less relevant pieces. Relevance in this context means that whatever you choose to spend your time learning on, you also choose to spend that same time ignoring other topics, so the costs of opportunities dynamics also have their part on this show.

Can you learn everything about the Dark Souls game while not ignoring the wonders of quadratic equations? Probably you can focus on both topics, but I bet I made you think twice about this statement.

Information exchange as a market also means that both knowledge and ignorance are an economy by themselves. I may or may not want to exchange information with you (the definition of Fungibility), and the currencies are the categories of the knowledge we hold. Some ideas to further explain this:

  • Do you consider yourself an expert in Computer Science and want to know more about Machine Learning?
  • Do you pay tuition to attend a college to receive an education? Tuition is paid with money, and in turn, you get an education, which makes both interchangeable and a form of value.
  • What pieces of information are in demand right now that can be exchanged for value? Any detail you hold as fact can be anything abstract expressed in words: a mathematical formula, a gossip, a newsflash, a technique, a book, etc.
  • Introduce yourself to the concept of “Liquidity of information” or put in simple terms, how could go viral a piece of information that I know of?

Whatever topic you are ignoring right now, others possess the knowledge you might be seeking. Thinking that information is an economy has its consequences in our current thinking, for better or worse. The perceived value of what we ignore increases if we determine a unit of information will help with our lives and if it doesn’t, we just ignore the topic. We do just like in the same way we choose to ignore buying fruits and vegetables if we are not focusing on having a healthy diet.

We can connect with knowledge market segments such as our workplace or our study group, and even our friends are a kind of knowledge market segment. This is why it is relevant to our interests to join the groups of our expertise, diversify our knowledge, and be aware of the Dangers of Groupthink. You will need a thick skin to defend your ideas. to hold a strong frame because you might have contrarian views that could be controversial in nature, but one should never negate oneself.

Since we can never hold all pieces of information together from the world, we are observers of a vast universe of knowledge and what humbles us is that we often find ourselves in a state of ignorance. I don’t know everything, and neither do you.

Be in a state of knowledge for the niche knowledge market you’re interested in. Become an expert in your field, or just never settle for less, become The Expert. Study hard.

Until next time.

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If it's not broken, don't fix it, should you?

“Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” -John D. Rockefeller.

For a long time, I’ve heard the phrase “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” and most of the time it’s never thought further, we just accept it as we have inherited it from our collective wisdom, but I sometimes ask myself if we should just think a bit differently. Maybe it deserves a bit of new polish the time has taken from it.

5th Jul 2021