Information Axioms

1) Network effects. As the number of nodes in a network increases, the total value of the network increases as well; therefore, in developing a policy network, member aggregation is paramount.

2) Early entrants win the field. The longer a non-governmental organization interested in becoming an online information provider waits to enter the field, the more difficult (and expensive) it will be to pry members out of existing online communities.

3) Information Feedback Loops. Users seek peer sanctioned information dissemination services, and therefore, are more likely to learn more about a commonly used network than one with few previous users. Hence, where information users are risk-averse and tend to favor networks they know more about, networks that by chance win market share early on gain an information feedback advantage.

4) Network technical and legal standards are power. The technical and legal standards underlying the internet are path-dependent, and because of network effects, they tend to have a winner-take all quality, with one standard becoming dominant and devotees of other standards becoming stranded.

5) Know your user’s needs. In policy information networks, consumer utility is maximized when the product is short, timely, and of high quality.

6) Gatekeepers and Intermediaries. “A plentitude of information leads to a poverty of attention.” Increasingly attention is becoming a scarce resource, and those who can distinguish valuable signals from white noise gain power.

7) Information Distortion. When information is passed up bureaucratic channels through many officials, each of whom condenses it somewhat before passing it up to the next level, the final output will be very different in quality from the original input; that is, significant distortion will occur. The goal of non-profit information networks is to circumvent these information distorting information channels.

8) Pricing. Information is costly to produce but cheap to reproduce, therefore you must price your information good according to consumer value, not according to your production cost.

9) Switching costs and lock-in. Information network users face small switching costs (the cost to changing from one information service to another) which can constitute large barriers to entry, especially for mass-market products.

10) Free information. If goods and services become more valuable as they become more plentiful, and if they become cheaper as they become valuable, then the natural extension of this logic says that the most valuable things of all should be those that are ubiquitous and free.

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axiom 1 – metcalf’s lawaxiom 2 – early entrants win the field

axiom 3 – significance precedes momentum

axiom 4 – standards as power

axiom 5 – producer and consumer utility

axiom 6 – gatekeepers, intermediaries, and the attention deficit

axiom 7 – positive feedback loops

axiom 8 – differentiation of products and pricing

axiom 9 – switching costs and lock-in

axiom 10 – free information: cooperation in a competitive environment