To call our time ``The Information Age'' is so obvious it has become a cliché. Our Information Age is the age in which mouthing of the hoary maxim ``knowledge is power'' is supplanted by the reality that ``knowledge is wealth''. The success of Autodesk and other software companies which have built businesses upon intellectual property--the product of the human mind, with minimal financial investment, physical plant and other capital equipment, are testimony of the advent of the information age. My paper ``The New Technological Corporation'' explained the ways in which I believe that intellectual property and its consequence, technological leverage, have scouted a new course to the summit of business success.
Signs of the emergence of the information age abound for the acute observer. Warren Buffett, the shrewdest investor of our age and foremost believer in ``no-tech'' investment; the man who proudly proclaims that he still doesn't know what a transistor is, buys a major stake in ABC/Capital Cities because he believes that control of channels of information is capital just as much as ownership of a steel mill. The acrimonious battles over patent and copyright protection of algorithms, software, ``look-and-feel'', and chip architectures are in fact nothing more or less than the gropings of a system designed for machines of steel and steam forced to come to terms with silicon and software.
As intellectual property supplants physical property, the ability to obtain access to accurate, timely information has become one of the keys to success. Our world is increasingly webbed by many different means of delivering information: some old, some new. In a given week I usually partake of the following:
|Newspapers||(Wall Street Journal, New York Times)|
|Magazines||(Aviation Leak, Electronics)|
|Scientific Journals||(Nature, Science, IEEE Computer, ...)|
|Newsletters||(HSL, Dow Theory Letters, Foresight, Commercial Space, ...)|
|Television||(McNeil Lehrer, Nightline)|
|Radio||(BBC World Service)|
|Computer Broadcast||(USENET NetNews: comp.graphics, comp...)|
|Computer Online||(CompuServe CIS, Dow Jones News/Retrieval)|
|Computer Mail||(Technet, USENET, Internet)|
All of these give me information. Information keeps me from being a dull boy, points out things worthy of further study and the like, but seldom addresses my chief need when I have a goal at hand and a pressing deadline to achieve it. I do not need information, I need answers.
Editor: John Walker