Information Goes to School

Tropics of Meta

Education concept

Education is a classic example of the confusion that arises when we reframe all different kinds of economic sectors in terms of information. A scholar once challenged my critique of the idea of the information economy, asking during a talk if it was not true that piracy undermined the economy by threatening the livelihood of people who make intellectual property. “I produce intellectual property,” he said, “and I think it deserves to be protected.” My response was only to ask how many people actually produce intellectual property. “In this room,” I said, looking around a seminar full of history professors, “that number is approaching 100%.”

The answer may seem simple in the company of academics, but there are really two questions here: first, how many people in American society actually make copyrighted works and patented inventions in the course of their daily work—people who could be literally termed “information workers”…

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