Monday, January 25, 2010

Information Economy

I've recently completed a review of the problem and solution set for a non profit, open source effort to win the Google Lunar X Prize. The GLXP is a competition for as much as $20M to the first registered team to put a rover on the moon and traverse 500m while returning HD video, to complete the mission requirements.

Not finding a gig lately, maybe I can help to create one.

For me, the GLXP mission is most interesting when the purpose extends beyond getting there and winning the prize. A deeper purpose, not that it's not a super cool project. My recent work on the subject reenforces the notion. For even with lots of free effort from capable minds and hands, it would take about $20M to do. The lion's share of that is the cost of launching up to LEO/TLI, which figures in at about $12M.

The GLXP itself has an interesting structure, when the reward is about the lowest possible cost of performance.

I've long thought it an ideal application of a non profit, open source approach. If $20M can be raised for the mission, then another $20M can be won and turned back into the enterprise. And if every bit permitted by law and contract is freely and openly published, then the purpose becomes far more than the performance, or even the experience of -- or ability to perform.

Then the purpose becomes educational, and perhaps inspirational. In the spirit of sharing, and giving young people the opportunity to experience an area of math and science and engineering that may interest and focus their own ambitions. After all, it is one of the hard parts in life for most people -- finding a direction, focusing the education, and then having a satisfactory adult career. The internet is good for that.

And then I thought, not sure how useful that will be if the jobs aren't there. Open source is great, and it has helped people and created jobs. But what more can open source do for jobs, I wondered.

Well, currently we face a need for innovation. And open source innovation is shared by everyone. But as the information economy raises the bar on innovation in each decade, what effect does this evolution have on the way we create jobs?

An increasingly decentralized or distributed information economy follows on telecommuting and crowd sourcing as value is created in digital production and services in commerce.

How can internet tools better enable these businesses to be developed?

And then it follows, although not specifically in information, how much higher will the economic bar of innovation be raised before space is a more expansive component of the world economy?

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