Google’s chief economist says…

I found this article [Hal Varian on how the Web challenges managers] in the January 2009 McKinsey Quarterly (you need to register to read content) very thought-provoking (maybe just provoking).  Some of the points he made that triggered reactions/emotions from me (in the order they appear in the transcript) are:


  1. …we’re going to have a totally different concept of what it means to go to work. The work goes to you, and you’re able to deal with your work at any time and any place, using the infrastructure that’s now become available.

  2. When we’re all networked, we all have access to the same documents, to the same capabilities, to this common infrastructure, and we can improve the way work—intellectual work, knowledge work—flows through the organization.

  3.  Back in the early days of the Web, every document had at the bottom, “Copyright 1997. Do not redistribute.” Now every document has at the bottom, “Copyright 2008. Click here to send to your friends.”

  4. …there is typically a revenue-generating component somewhere in the value chain. And most commonly today we’re seeing it on the advertising side.

  5. “What is it that’s really scarce in the Internet economy?” And the answer is attention. … “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” So being able to capture someone’s attention at the right time is a very valuable asset.

  6. Because now we really do have essentially free and ubiquitous data. So the complimentary scarce factor is the ability to understand that data and extract value from it...skills—of being able to access, understand, and communicate the insights you get from data analysis—are going to be extremely important.


 I’d be interested in others’ reactions or opinions of his points.  But I do just want to share this piece, as it brings to the fore the issue of attention (as related to time, especially the “right time”) and understanding.

1 Comment »

  1. Tara Murray wrote:

    February 5, 2009 @ 12:56 pm

    Thank you for posting this – it is indeed thought-provoking.

    I agree with Varian that statisticians and others who can extract value from data will be very important, but I still think people who can identify the appropriate data source to answer a question, or who can search for statistics that have already been extracted from data, will be in demand too. In part, I think that the ubiquity of data and information increases people’s expectations that the piece of information they want is out there, somewhere. The questions we get may be fewer, but they will require more time to answer.

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