Competition and Uniformity

Information Overload

I found an interesting connection between the information in this Chapter on Competition and Conformity and the other information learned in this Module concerning the problem of information overload, and some strategies that can help manage information in my personal and professional life. The chapter focused on how interoperability can both stifle and spur on competition depending on the factors that are in play such as size of company, maturity of the company and network effects. To a certain extent I draw an analogy between interoperability and information overload as being total interoperability. I mean that in an age when anyone can publish and make information available to a huge potential audience and where we are bombarded by more information each day than we can possibly process we have to establish filters, folders, and strategies to access the information we really need to become experts at something. In other words, we have to determine the extent that we can limit the information interoperability by filtering out all the unwanted information that is competing for our attention. This YouTube video identified in our Module 5 helped me see the connection between competition and interoperability and ‘information overload’ as being total interoperability. The examples cited regarding Facebook and managing personal preferences and the Ryerson case of ‘freeriders’ really explains my point. Despite the length, it is worth a couple of views…very deep!

My other key learning this week was the need to avoid the network effects of only going to ‘favourite’ news sources and constantly hearing news that reinforces one’s personal beliefs. We should fight conformity and suboptimal standardization in the information that we choose to accept. This all boils down to becoming critical thinkers in terms of the information that we consume and becoming more aware that junk information is easily available, but we have to keep it out of our information diet. Just as Microsoft adjusted the degree that it allowed it systems to be interoperable at different stages of its history, not necessarily always of its own choosing, we must adjust the degree that we control the interoperability of information coming into our life.

The text book example for the network effects occurred when everyone moved over from Beta to VHS because it was the thing to do even if the Beta product was on the whole superior. I found this YouTube video informative in the sense that it explained how consumers who chose Beta lost when competition was based on interoperability between two competing technologies. This struck home for me since I chose Beta and was ultimately shutout as a result of noninteroperability.

As we move forward, is interoperability the key to increasing competition and benefitting consumers?


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