Last week while studying for my FINAL final (the one for my information security class), I looked across the table at my study buddy and said, “Isn’t it scarey that our whole economy is based on… well, nothing… well, at least nothing we can see?” Here we are preparing for jobs to organize, manage and secure information, yet we can’t hold “it” in our hands. In our agricultural and industrial economies there were “tangible” assets to “count” or “trade.” Now that we’re in an information economy, the assets are harder to “quantify.” I don’t know about you, but my economics and accounting classes certainly didn’t teach me how to tally knowledge.
And isn’t this a persistant problem for “knowledge management”: convincing the decision-makers that the information about their organization and the knowledge held by its “people” (AND the organization and management thereof) is paramount to their future and the organization’s success? Isn’t trying to justify ROI for KM or IS frustrating?
Most organizations (and reporting “financials”) do not–or will not–accept “knowledge” as an asset on the balance sheet. How has “good will” enjoyed the status of being a line item for decades? Just how can we “account” for knowledge and justify information as our trade?
Should organizations start valuing and trading its information and “people” like sports teams trade their players? We may do well by using such a model.
Living in the ice-plagued southwest and being without electricity–even worse, the Internet, i.e. COMMUNICATION–for the past several days, my reflections about our information economy have resurfaced more times than I’d like to admit. I’ve had plenty of extra holiday-moneymaking work to do this week, but couldn’t “get to it” because I didn’t have high speed cable connection and couldn’t communicate with others… around the world or even across town, for that matter.
So, with all this free time on my hands (and during the quiet moments I’ve spent decorating for the holidays) I keep wondering: what really would happen if the world’s electricity, e.g. Internet, went out? What would happen to our global information economy? Would we all pool our resources, select teams and player positions, then go outside and play soccer?