June 15th, 2004 | by ian |

I am reading Joseph Stiglitz’ Globalization and Its Discontents. A fascinating look at the politics of international finance, particularly the World Bank, IMF and US Treasury. He makes an interesting point early on about how market transactions and their profitability are driven by assymetries of information between two parties. This is interesting for a few reasons, firstly because a lot of economic models assume “perfect markets” where there is transparency of information between suppliers and consumers when this is obviously not the case in the real world, secondly this leads me to understand more than ever that information is the real currency of the world, however intangible and thus difficult to track. So that is why “information is power.” I should say controlling information leads to economic advantage and in turn, power. This is why Microsoft, Governments, and Big Media need concern us – it is in their interests to control the flow of information and how we use it.

This provides a brief segue into another book I am reading called Free Culture which explains how public rights to information are being eroded by copyright and intellectual property lobby groups. Big media companies, rich from selling us their content, lobby government for increasingly all-encompassing and everlasting rights to their materials, even to the extent of removing the very rights that were the basis of their original success. Apparently the use of derivative and public domain works played a large part in Disney’s growth.

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