So just what might the ramifications be if all or most of the information in the world was organized? It is one of the stated goals of Google and there are lots of other companies that work toward that goal. “Disorganization”, “Space”, & “Friction” are thing that have always been part of nature and assumed to be pesent in the way we live our lives.
Many of us spend the majority of our days organizing information. In fact, who among us doesn’t earn a living from organizing information? Whether you are working as a secretary, writing computer programs or making shoes, you are organizing information in one form or another. Your income and your livelihood depends on information being disorganized so you can earn a living organizing it. When you switch to a different job or start a new company, you are most likely simply organizing a different set of information. So what happens when a big computer network sits atop of all of it and automatically organizes most of it? What happens to all the people who previously made a living doing it by hand or with the aid of a spreadsheet or database? People can potentially do a lot less work when more information is organized and things can be come more efficient but typicaly when that happens, those that come up with and have access to all the organized information profit handsomely from it while those who are no longer needed may face hard times. While local automation systems may simple displace a few people, there has almost always been a new plae to go earn a living. As these systems get larger and larger and encompass larger infomation sets, will the number of people looking for work, to earn a living far outstrip the available opportunities to actually earn a living?
Before the Internet, there were many different marketplaces with different constraints and different pricing. For better or worse, the Internet “helps” to oranize informationand give consumers much more power over how much they pay for goods and services. It enables them to more effectively extract the maximum amount of value for their money. It also comes back around and lets other people and companies extract the maximum amount of value for the money they have to spend. It seems like a zero sum game. We all work faster and harder for less money, though theoretically, we should be able to buy more for the same amount of money. The people or entities that control the marketplaces and facilitate the transactions stand to make a fortune for maintaining an information system while those that actually produce anything are squeezed to the bone.
The Concept of Friction
Friction is something we generally try to eliminate. In physics, the less friction that is produced, the less energy is released or wasted as heat and the more efficient a system or a machine can run. In business, friction may be associated with processes, thinking and processing information. Friction slows things down. The more friction we can eliminate from the business system, the more efficient the system can potentially become. The more friction that can be removed from the system, the faster the system can operate, the more efficient the system may be able to operate and the more money the system may be able to make. Elimination of friction is almost always assumed to be a good thing because it makes more money.
The Concept of Space
The planet is a big place. The development of new communications technologies has drastically cut down on the physical and mental space between people. The telegraph made primitive long distance communication possible, radio and television facilitated one-way mass communication, the telephone and cell phones made real time conversations and sharing of ideas possible and then the Internet came to life. “Space” in mays ways began to vanish.
Along with the web and all the digital technologies that accompany it comes another new challenge for people to deal with. Virtually everything is recorded. Your phone calls, your activity on the Internet and all the other information you transmit via digital means of record yourself and post on the web. Conversations about someone you wouldn’t want that someone to hear may pop up when you least want them to. Arguements between kids at school that used to end at school now make their way to the web in the form of chatroom threats, taunting, and even violence.
There used to be a lot more space between people, communications used to remain between the people having the conversation and unless purposely recorded, ceased to exist after the conversation was over.
How will people deal with this new reality, how much more abusive will lawyers become, how will it affect the way people communicate when they start to realize that whatever they say or do will probably be saved on digital media somewhere and may come back to haunt them?
What happens when the worlds’ information becomes much more organized, when friction is largely removed from business and interactions between people, when personal space ceases to exist in many ways?
Only time will tell but the time until we find out is rapidly approaching and the current economic climate is going to quickly force us to deal with lots of new pressures and situations we haven’t had to deal with in the past.
With much of this technology, we only wondered if we could and decided to march forward and never stepped back to think if we should.
This all needs to be fleshed out a bit more but there are going to be challenging times ahead as pressures build and technology changes the landscape faster than people can adapt to it.