Information Rules by Carl Shapiro & Hal Varian

While Varian wrote the intermediate microeconomics textbook I used in college (with good concise mathematical expositions of the theory), this book refused to use mathematical expressions. Apparently, they had heard the dictum that every equation in your book reduces sales by 50%. But as the tortured text on page 113 shows, they should have at least included a clarifying graph.

Even though it looks like a "business book", its review of information economics spawned a slew of ideas in addition to making me militantly anti-lock-in. Big points such as:

  1. using the cheaper communication costs and consumer deals to further define your demand curve
  2. that someone really should come up with a digital watermark that survives lossy transcoding
  3. that the Internet's threat lies in user content competing with "professional" content, not in its "Giant, out of control copying machine" (page 83) feature.
Also, the walk through the Internet's Flanders fields entertained me with the names of the slain on both sides (Webvan, Encyclopedia Britannica, etc.). I'll be checking out Varian's lectures on information economics to see where they go.