Hoarded Knowledge

*information obtained from HOW | Why HOW we do anything means everything by Dov Seidman

Knowledge becomes more valuable directly in proportion to your need or desire for it. If you were told that you had a disease, for instance, you would pay much more for the information to cure it than you would if you were healthy.

In the days of fortress capitalism, a professional class of lawyers, doctors, accountants and other gatekeepers of knowledge took advantage of information’s elasticity and profited from it in two significant ways:

  • They hoarded knowledge (like any other commodity) and meted it out in small doses for high fees (typically, to people who really needed it because they were in trouble, ill, or their metaphoric houses otherwise on fire).
  • Simultaneously, they built indecipherably specialized language and complex codes; like legalese, the tax code, and other “fine print” as barriers to keep people from gaining easy access to what they knew. This increased their value. The more someone needed certain information, the more they were willing to pay a specialist to explain it.

Nowadays, the wired world, by conducting information so quickly and cheaply, in contrast removed the layers between individuals and knowledge, making the professional specialist somewhat less valuable and the information itself more so. Now, power and wealth has shifted from those who hoard information to those who can make it available and accessible o the most people.

With the ascent of information as the engine of commerce, power has shifted to those who open up and share the information freely. It is no longer about hoarding, no longer about creating secrets, no longer about keeping things private; it is about reaching people.

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