Knowledge as Currency – Sept 16, 2013, Kim Taylor, CI Sei Do Kai Guelph, Nanadan

Visiting one of the old forums I notice that folks are hunting down the fakes as enthusiastically as ever. One of the statements was a very definite “there is no way that what they are doing is X-ryu”. The assuredness was quite breathtaking. I’m not as sure that pedestrians are clear of the intersection these days as this guy was sure he knew every nuance of every line in his koryu. Once upon a time I knew that much about the world, but no more I’m afraid, damned near whacked a fellow stepping into the intersection whle I was turning right three days ago. I swear he wasn’t there when I started turning but he was behind the girl on the bike and the post of my van.

Information, it’s a strange commodity these days. It has always had value mostly because it’s scarce, after all something that everyone knows isn’t worth much is it? Teachers deal in selling infromation in return for money or respect or some other payment. Customers/students will only pay for what they don’t have. In the days pre-internet that scarce information also had a rather limited market. Guys who knew the inner secrets of the Japanese budo could use it to impress.. er gain respect from their students and a smallish local group who might come to demonstrations.

With the net the market expanded dramatically, and there was a world-wide audience for specialized information. Those who knew could impress… er educate many more people than ever before. Then the “kids” started doing it, they began to repeat this scarce information (often without any context, often verbatim) before us old guys could get to it, and thus spawned a sort of resentment that the kids got the information for free and were diluting the market with it. Then the forums split into more and more esoteric interest groups, so new markets opened up for the many new information providers who could all trade information for respect. Now these hundreds of little neighbourhood information markets are being driven out of business by the walgets of the net, by facespace and other companies who have found a way to make real money off of the old and new experts who are still giving their information away. We write, people read and the commercial net makes money off of all of us by serving advertisments. Our knowledge is their currency now.

Why do we not boycott the commercial web and do things the old, money-free way? Because the customers are in the store, and teachers gotta teach. We still get our satisfaction, our respect from the kids, regardless where we spend it. Information is our currency to purchase respect for our knowledge. On the commercial web, on the other hand, our information is their raw material, the stuff out of which they produce eyeballs which is what they sell to advertisers.

Ah the consumer society, where we can turn something as moneyless as sharing information into cash in a few people’s pockets. It’s even getting hard to earn cash as a local teacher, after all why pay for the cow of instruction when you can get the milk of information “for free” on the net?

Oh, my attempt to deal with the situation? You see that link below my signature? That’s the ad your eyeballs are seeing in payment for my giving you this information. Fair Dinkum?

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