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Current Topic: Economics

The Knowledge Economy and Postsecondary Education | National Academy Press
Topic: Economics 1:45 pm EST, Jan 19, 2002

This is a 200-page report from a workshop held in 2001 on the future of postsecondary education. It is strongly correlated with the last chapters of _The Social Life of Information_ by John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid. (The last chapters were among the most interesting of this excellent book.) The report includes several papers presented at the workshop:

The Impact of the Changing Economy on Four-Year Institutions of Higher Education: The Importance of the Internet
Higher Education, the Emerging Market, and the Public Good
A Role for the Internet in American Education? Lessons from Cisco Networking Academies
Creating High-Quality Learning Environments: Guidelines from Research on How People Learn

The Knowledge Economy and Postsecondary Education | National Academy Press

Equal Opportunity Recession: Almost Everyone Is Feeling It
Topic: Economics 3:24 am EST, Dec 16, 2001

... The downturn has quickly become one of the broadest on record. ... [Nearly] every large industry ... is shrinking. Almost every state is losing jobs. Unemployment has risen for nearly every group, climbing most sharply for college graduates and others who usually escape the brunt of a downturn. ...

For many younger people, who have known nothing but prosperity since they entered the work force, the new situation has come as a shock. Many without work are unsure how soon they will be able to find a job that pays as much as their old one did. ...

[A Boston-area temp agency] has purged a lot of the not-so-good workers and has been placing the best ones in jobs that they might not have taken before. "People will do stuff today that they would not do even a year ago." ...

[Healthcare is] the single strongest sector in the United States economy today. "... never seen [personnel shortage] as bad as it is now. ... The demand is just incredible." ...

For a long time ... many better-known Silicon Valley companies ... resisted the notion that the bursting of the dot-com bubble last year would affect ... plans. ... CIOs remain pessimistic. ... It is all a vivid illustration of how Silicon Valley's technology firms succumbed to their own mantra that the new economy was unstoppable. ...

Equal Opportunity Recession: Almost Everyone Is Feeling It

No tech job worries for purple squirrels
Topic: Economics 11:56 pm EST, Dec 12, 2001

Jobless? Consider transplanting some squirrel genes into your system and painting yourself with a lovely lavender latex finish.

LA Times reports the ITAA says that good tech jobs are still widely available. They attribute the continued push for H1B visas to the fact that the people out of work are web designers, marketers, and dot-com consultants, when what industry needs are technically proficient business people. Salaries are still increasing, although at a lower rate than in the recent past. RSA Security is currently looking for 30 people, and Cisco is hiring in new product development.

(FYI: "Purple squirrels" are "people with skill sets that are extremely hard to find," according to a recruiter at EarthLink.)

No tech job worries for purple squirrels

Telecom Writeoffs Are Healthy | The Economist, November 19
Topic: Economics 7:12 pm EST, Nov 26, 2001

"Telecommunications companies have been writing down the value of assets only recently acquired for billions of dollars. This is a painful move, but it signals a new, and healthy, realism"

Financial news and analysis on telecoms worldwide including NTT DoCoMo, Vodafone, Marconi, Telecom Italia, Siemens, Alcatel, Lucent, Ericsson, France Telecom, ...

Telecom Writeoffs Are Healthy | The Economist, November 19

Few Willing to Pay for Web Content
Topic: Economics 9:15 pm EST, Nov 16, 2001

TechTV reports on the recent Pew study, "The Dot-com Meltdown and the Web." The story contains a link to the full report, which is available in PDF.

Survey finds most Internet users seek out free alternatives when their favorite sites start charging.

The dot-com shakeout has resulted in some websites charging fees to access content, but few Americans have been willing to pay, according to a survey released Wednesday.

About 17 percent of Internet users, or about 19 million people, have been asked to pay for access to website content that used to be free, but half found free alternatives, while 12 percent pay, and the rest just decide to stop getting that content or service from an online source, according to a study by the Pew Internet & Life Project."

Few Willing to Pay for Web Content

Bandwagon Effects in High-Technology Industries
Topic: Economics 11:26 pm EST, Nov 15, 2001

Just published (in October 2001) by MIT Press, with a forward by Hal Varian. 256 pages, ISBN 0-262-18217-3.

"Bandwagon effects increase the benefits to each user as additional users consume a product or service. They pervade high-technology industries. The book surveys and expands the economic theory of bandwagon effects. It applies sophisticated (though non-mathematical) bandwagon theory to provide detailed objective analysis of a number of high-technology industries. The economic analysis lends insight regarding what is going on in those industries and shows how bandwagon theory can help in developing effective strategies for business managers and public policy makers -- so that powerful bandwagon effects work for them, rather than against them. It explains similarities and differences between outcomes in various high-tech industries in terms of the underlying bandwagon economics."

Bandwagon Effects in High-Technology Industries

The Economics of Network Industries
Topic: Economics 9:08 pm EST, Nov 14, 2001

This book (published earlier in 2001) was recently recommended by Phil Agre of UCLA. Worth a look. Only $16 at Amazon.

Overview: "Networks are fastest-growing components in most industries. Network industries include the Internet, e-mail, telephony, computer hardware and software, music and video players, and service operations in businesses overseas, banking, law, and airlines. Author Oz Shy conveys the essential features of how strategic interactions among firms are affected by network activity, and how social interaction influences consumers' choices of products and services."

Hal Varian of UCB says, "At last: a definitive textbook on the economic theory of high technology! Up until now the literature on network economics has only been available in advanced journals. Oz Shy has managed to package it beautifully so that it is accessible to advanced undergraduates and beginning graduate students."

For a snapshot of the book, take a look at the 42 pages of lecture notes for the author's graduate-level course (for which this book is the course text). They are online in PDF at

The Economics of Network Industries

Slashdot inches toward subscription model
Topic: Economics 11:47 pm EDT, Oct 23, 2001

"[...] a little about advertisements and subscriptions. Slashdot continues to grow: our traffic has increased by like 10% in the last few months, and simply selling the banner ads you see on top of each page isn't going to be enough to keep us afloat if we keep growing. And selling banner ads in 2001 is an awful lot harder then [sic] it was in 1999.

The change will be a different ad size on the article page. Currently we have the standard banner size on top of all pages, but soon the article pages will instead have those huge square things that you see on CNet or ZD. I know this will be unpopular with many people, myself included, but when we make the switch, we will also have some sort of subscription system where you can pay a fee to disable them honestly.

[...] Slashdot is now four years old ... and I want it to still be here four years from now. I hope you can understand the expensive reality associated with making this site happen every day for a quarter of a million readers."

Slashdot inches toward subscription model

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