Knowledge Is Not Power, It Is Commodity
Our world produces more information than ever before.
Our world produces information faster than ever before.
Our world has easier access to information than ever before.
A xkcd cartoon strip, you say? There is an incredible amount of popular data and sayings on this topic, let’s try to actually quantify through two of the most authoritative sources:
- A Feb 2011 study published in Science concluded that general-purpose computing grew at a 58% annual rate from 1986 to 2007. Thanks to the magic of compounding, that’s almost 10,000x increase in 20 years.
- A May 2014 article published in Nature concluded that just scientific production is doubling every 9 years years.
We effectively live in a world where the 2 billion of us with Internet access can access knowledge that only a generation ago was a privilege of an educated elite.
If knowledge is a commodity, what is needed? Let’s try to quantify this also through authoritative sources:
- The total amount of text in Wikipedia articles has been increasing linearly and the growth rate essentially unchanged since 2006. If Wikipedia were following the overall trend around information growth then we would see exponential curves but instead much of the output is going into improving the quality of existing articles.
- A 2015 article published in a leading statistical journal claims that 1 in 5 surveys may contain fraudulent data.
There is obviously plenty to do, from parents to educators, from policy makers to workplaces. What can entrepreneurs do? Below are three key spaces around knowledge management with disproportionate growth in VC investments that I would argue have a lot more untapped opportunity.
1) Big Data
NewVantage Partners has been surveying Fortune 1000 executives since 2012 to understand big data trends and their full report shows spending is on a definite rise. We will likely see a slowdown eventually but for now, large companies are decidedly awake they need to invest in how to manage growing exabytes of information.
In Fall 2017 20.4M students are expected to attend American universities. Almost three times as many globally are attending online courses, with the growth of the number of courses being one metric. Monetizing these businesses remains a challenge.
3) Identity Management
More information means we need better tools to authenticate its veracity. Identity management has been uneven in terms of investments but the overall trend is unmistakeable.
Thanks to Suvi Narayanan for the conversation inspiring this post.These are purposely short articles focused on practical insights (I call it gl;dr — good length; did read). I would be stoked if they get people interested enough in a topic to explore in further depth. I work for Samsung’s innovation unit calledNEXT, focused on early-stage venture investments in software and services in deep tech, all opinions expressed here are my own.