Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
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Design principles for 21st century companies, markets, and economies. Foreword by Gary Hamel. Coming January 4th. Pre-order at Amazon.


 
Thursday, May 18, 2006

Dead Tree Problem


"..."Think for a moment about the dead-tree problem," he said. "When you stand in your own personal library looking for something and you realize that A, you can't remember which book it was in, and B, there's no way you can go through manually looking at all the pages, then you think, 'God, I wish all this stuff was online.' "

From yet another article about Google Print. That's all well and good.

But there's an inverse problem - call it the Dead Brain Problem - which is what the next batch of radical innovators are already solving: that in a world of cheap, universally accessible info, you don't have the incentive to know much of anything. When you have a library, you get to know your books - you learn what's in them.

This is a key vital point for Google.

-- umair // 6:14 PM // 10 comments


Comments:

Indeed - that is perhaps the most worrying impact of all this "information at your fingertips". I already find myself remembering less, because I know I can look everything up! What will happen when our brains are permanently plugged into the Web - we'll "know" everything, but will we lose our ability to process it?
// Anonymous Max Bleyleben // 7:09 PM
 

Umair Haque spouts so much drivel it is frankly embarassing.

This "insight" is just transparent re-hackery of the old "you don't have to remember what you learned, you just have to know where to look for the information when you need it" adage.

Umair blinds people with words, but if you just drill a little into them, they are re-hashed Economics 101. He recently said this: "Value capture [in the new media value chain] is a function of market power." No shit, REALLY? Wow! Market power helps with value capture? That is such radical, clever, new-world, 2.0 thinking... that it helped John D. Rockefeller to his billions.

Umair makes me cringe - hyper-this and hyper-that; he's just adding hyper to old words in a feeble attempt to make them look new. What's hyper about the whole thing is the hype.

Bleh.
// Anonymous Web2.0Sceptic // 1:03 PM
 

Hey Max,

The same is very true for me...

Sceptic,

Don't hold, back - let us know how you really feel.

FYI, the point of the paragraph you're quoting was the next line: "and market power is a function of attention allocation".

So your argument isn't valid, because you're treating my one of premises as my conclusion.

Anyways, I'm glad to see you read bubblegen so closely.

Thx for the comments.
// Blogger umair // 1:17 PM
 

Thank you for giving me the chance to show you to be a deeply insecure hack once again.

Your "conclusion" is not novel or insightful.

Market power is a function of the unique resources controlled, be those resources Ricardo's original corn land, intellectual property, or something as intangible an audience's attention. If you own the only land capable of growing corn, you own the corn market and can extract rents. It is exactly the same in these markets, as it was for TV audiences, no matter how you spin it with hyper-this and hyper-that.

You wrap these things up in your emperor's new clothes, but there are many who see through and laugh.

Thank you also for reading these comments so assiduously - a sure sign of... well, to use your own words "come on, Surely you can figure this out?"
// Anonymous web2.0sceptic // 7:27 PM
 

Hey Sceptic,

You're kind of cute when you're angry.

1) viz Ricardian rents: the whole point is that attention *wasn't* the scarce resource in yesterday's media/consumer industries.

You should consider why yesterday's Ricardian rents are drying up across industries - you're upset, I think, because you're missing this part of the picture.

2) I just use hyper to mean more than/above/beyond.

3) I try and read all my comments (not just yours, tough guy :)

4) What's with the sudden venom?

Thx for the comment.
// Blogger umair // 7:45 PM
 

Tsk.

First "that wasn't my conclusion"; then "that wasn't my point"; now "you clearly don't understand what I am saying".

Attention has ALWAYS been the problem in media industries. That is why advertisers paid more for the shows that attracted the highest attention, and why the producer who created them could extract rents from the networks.

The internet, whatever version used, is just another delivery mechanism, and rents will always flow to the rights holders - as long as they can assert those rights.

There's nothing new or special here.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 8:56 PM
 

Hey Sceptic,

Don't put words in my mouth (please).

Actually, attention wasn't scarce yesterday - that's the whole point.

Though different shows competed for attention, media entry was severely restricted. Attention wasn't scarce along the value chain/at the industry level - only at the firm level.

Those days are over.

I think I'm gonna end this discussion here.
// Blogger umair // 9:12 PM
 

So, now you fall back on "I cannot argue with someone who doesn't get it".

Fine.

But your point is still wrong.

Attention is demonstrably not scarce at the industry level: there are millions upon millions of eyes scouring the available media looking for something worth watching, more today than ever before.

As ever, audiences want to have their attention held by something worth watching, regardless of who provides it or via which media it arrives. The fight for that attention is the same as it ever was, when newspapers had to compete with radio, and then radio with TV, and then TV with video, and now the internet.

The fact is that something worth watching is still the scarce (unique) resource, not the audience. Audiences come and go with the tide, the same as it ever was.

You are a charlatan.
// Anonymous web2.0sceptic // 10:30 PM
 

Hey Sceptic,

Feel free to comment, to debate me, or even to make fun of me.

The floor is even yours to troll away (if you must).

But personal attacks on me or anyone else will be deleted.
// Blogger umair // 12:36 AM
 

How can it be a personal attack to state that you are a freshly minted, inexperienced MBA? Do you deny that you are LBS class of 2003?

Most senior business people would consider you quite junior and inexperienced in these matters. I think that strikes right at the heart of your credentials, and explains why so many of your opinions are immature.
// Anonymous web2.0sceptic // 10:12 AM
 
 

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