Friday, September 17, 2004


I normally don't believe in synchronicity, but... Yesterday I was thinking that in the aftermath of the whole blogs versus CBS "David and Goliath" clash I should write something about how the blogosphere is yet another example of Hayek's ideas about the diffused knowledge, decentralization and spontaneous order in action. But guess what? Michael Van Winkle beat me to it at "Tech Central Station" in his piece "Hayek Smiled: Why Blogging Works":

"Why is it that the blogosphere continues to thrive despite incessant warnings of misinformation and partisan gossip?...

"Hayek's work focused on how it is that complicated and reliable systems of cooperation come about without any centralized direction. When they do, they outperform systems of 'command', systems that rely on central direction...

"We've all heard critics of the Internet claim that, because no one 'controls' it, no one can control it from disseminating the most outrageous rumors and conspiracies. A similar critique was leveled at Hayek's arguments about markets: Sure, markets (spontaneous systems) can deliver food at reasonable prices, but advertising and marketing often mislead people about which foods they should buy.

"This traditional criticism of the internet has now been aimed at the blogosphere and is embodied by big journalists like Jonathan Klein who, while defending the CBS story to The Weekly Standard remarked, 'You couldn't have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of check and balances [at '60 Minutes'] and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing.' Klein misses the point that it's not whether you can trust some guy in his pajamas, but whether you can trust a spontaneous system of thousands of guys in their pajamas trading information and imparting small, sometimes deceivingly insignificant, bits of information."
Highly recommended.


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