I read Economics at university. Many years ago. And my father used to keep telling me that the most dangerous phrase he’d ever heard an economist use was “Let us assume that…”.
So when I studied perfect markets and perfect information and rational behaviour, I understood the assumptions and understood that the assumptions were wrong. But it didn’t matter, or so I thought, since all we were doing was building theoretical models.
When it came to “perfect information”, I was naive enough to believe that the only constraints to perfect information existed in the technologies used to transport that information. It was only as I began to understand how organisations worked that I realised just how naive I was.
But there were parts of me that still believed, And so as Moore and Metcalfe and Gilder marched on, and the web became reality, I could see a way of using social software to inch towards perfect markets in some very specific niches.
Two niches in particular.
I wanted to be able to build a list of requirements using a wiki, and I wanted to be able to go through the search, price discovery, and fulfilment stages of purchasing something that meets those requirements via a blog.
When we look at the problems of requirements capture and their consequent impact on project costs and delivery, we need to look at ways to improve this process. We understand about time-boxing and time-placing, we understand about scope creep and requirements creep, we understand about extreme programming, pair programming, fast iteration. So why can’t we see that we can capture, share, iterate and evolve requirements much more effectively using wikis? I’m confused.
There ought to be a law that says “Information tends to go corrupt when hidden, and tends to corrupt those who participate in the process of hiding the information.”
We waste so much in the procurement process for the same reasons. We don’t use the tools we have to discover what’s out there. We don’t make the process a participative one. We make it worse by allowing the tenderers better access to the requirements than anyone else. I’m confused.
As with wikipedia and with the celebrity blogs, there will always be vandals, some in the interests of art, some in the interests of “freedom”, some for the heck of it.
You don’t shut down museums because Marcel Duchamp puts a moustache on a copy of La Gioconda.
So why do we do this? Why do we have so much fear of perfect information? So much so we blame the tools, the people, everything.