Stewart Brand famously declared, “Information wants to be free.” Except he didn’t (not really). And it doesn’t.
Information is much more complicated than that. What information really wants—what makes it more valuable, useful, and immediate, Joshua Gans argues—is to be shared.
Using the tools and logic of information economics, Gans shows how sharing enhances most information’s value. He also shows how the business models of traditional media companies, gatekeepers who have relied on scarcity and control, have collapsed in the face of new technologies. Equally important, he argues that sharing can revive moribund, threatened industries even as he examines platforms that have, almost accidentally, thrived in this new environment.
Provocative, intriguing, and useful, Information Wants to Be Shared will change the way you think about your ideas and the media you use to consume and produce them.
HBR Singles provide brief yet potent business ideas, in digital form, for today's thinking professional.
Joshua Gans holds the Jeffrey S. Skoll Chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. He blogs at Digitopoly.org and is the author of Parentonomics: An Economist Dad Looks at Parenting.