Monday, October 23, 2006

Keep The Bits a' Flowin'

Dave Hoffman sees a connection between bits of bytes and bits of water.

Perhaps the analogy is facile, but is there a meaningful connection between the economics of water and information? The reason that the analogy occurs to me is that both goods the real cost is access, not consumption. Obviously, there are some important differences too (information isn't life, whatever Neal Stephenson thinks, etc.) But it might be that the lessons from the partial commodification of water in the last thirty years, and the positive consequences of regulation, could inform our experiences with informational regulation as well.
I think the lesson is simple - when consumers get to consume for free, they over use it, leading to shortages. Whether the consumption is water or data should be irrelevant, the same lessons apply.

Everytime I here some pundit or activist say "Well, this time its different" I roll my eyes and think back to all of those other times they said "this time its different" and were wrong.

As much as we would like to provide free water for everyone and Internet for all, wishing it so just doesn't conform with reality.

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