TITLE: Knowledge Arbitrage AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: November 15, 2009 8:02 PM DESC: ----- BODY: A couple of weeks back, Brian Foote tweeted:
Ward Cunningham: Pure Knowledge arbitrageurs will no longer gain by hoarding as knowledge increasingly becomes a plentiful commodity #oopsla
This reminds me of a "quought" of the day that I read a couple of years ago. Paraphrased, it asked marketers: What will you do when all of your competitors know all of the same things you do? Ward's message broadens the implication from marketers to any playing field on which knowledge drives success. If everyone has access to the same knowledge, how do you distinguish yourself? Your product? The future looks a bit more imposing when no one starts with any particular advantage in knowledge. Ward's own contributions to the world -- the wiki and extreme programming among them -- give us a hint as to what this new future might look like. Hoarding is not the answer. Sharing and building together might be. The history of the internet and the web tells us at the result of collaboration and open knowledge may well be a net win for all of us over a world in which knowledge is hoarded and exploited for gain in controlled bursts. Part of the ideal of the academy has always been the creation and sharing of knowledge. But increasingly its business model has been exposed as depending on the sort of knowledge arbitrage that Ward warns against. Universities now compete in a world of knowledge more plentiful and open than ever before. What can they do when all of their customers have access to much of the same knowledge that they hope to disseminate? Taking a cue from Ward, universities probably need to be thinking hard about how they share knowledge, how they help students, professors, and industry build knowledge together, and how they add value in their unique way through academic inquiry. -----