Authors Joanne Roberts and John Armitage, in a recent article appearing in the December 2008 issue of Prometheus, compel us to think about the knowledge economy, a much bandied around concept related to the production and transmission of knowledge-based goods and services, in terms of its binary, the ignorance economy. I’ve strung a few quotes together from that article which I realize is cheating a little but still close enough to the spirit of our monthly rendezvous with quotable-things-related-to-communication. This article can be found in Penn’s e-resources.
“Unlike the knowledge economy, the ignorance economy is not, or at least not yet, a common expression used amongst economists, managers, and policymakers. …Nevertheless, we want to argue, the knowledge economy is precisely rooted in the production, distribution, and consumption of ignorance and lack of information. …Indeed, as we shall see below, the knowledge economy is necessarily engaged in the speedy obsolescence of knowledge and thus in the expansion of ignorance….it is our contention that ICTs lead to a growth in ignorance. First, increasing amounts of knowledge are being codified and embedded in information management systems, databases, websites and so on. While this makes the information easily retrievable for those with access to the technologies (and we must remember that many even in the advanced nations have limited or no access), it also leads to the discarding of important tacit elements of knowledge that are not amenable to codification. …Jean-Noël Jeanneney raises this concern in relation to Google’s library project, arguing that its unsystematic digitization of works predominantly written in English and from a few partner libraries ignores the complexity of the world’s cultural heritage. The result of such codification projects is the loss of valuable knowledge and the development of path-dependency in terms of future creativity and innovation.”
–Joanne Roberts and John Armitage (from “The Ignorance Economy,” Prometheus, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp. 345-347).