What on earth does F. A. Hayek, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, who died in 1992, have to do with CBS’s unfolding faked docu-drama?
Michael Van Winkle, writing on Tech Central Station, asks why bloggers discovered the forgery before CBS:
“Is it only because CBS was consumed by its own bias? Or is there something remarkably efficient about the blogosphere? Despite the apparent truth of the former, students of Hayek know that the latter explanation is far more significant.
“Hayek’s work focused on how it is that complicated and reliable systems of cooperation come about without any centralized direction. When they do, they outperform systems of ’command,’ systems that rely on central direction. Hayek was an economist and so his primary object of study was the market and how, seemingly counterintuitively, it can work without commands; and why it outperforms large scale centralized economies like the Soviet Union. It doesn’t take a directive from Washington to get Apple Computers to make more iPods. Why? Because the market tells Apple how many will sell.
“Hayek theorized that markets worked better primarily because of their ability to facilitate the use of ‘on the spot’ knowledge, knowledge that is very unique to a particular person or place. Steve Jobs knows more about making iPods than George Bush. Everyone has something he knows more about than just about anyone else, even if that something is as basic as his own car. A command system requires the person with the knowledge to wait on the guy without it. A market system gives the person with knowledge the freedom and power to act on it.”
I’d say that CBS’s bias has a lot to do with the network’s blindness, though, unlike his famous relative, Mr. Van Winkle certainly hasn’t been asleep at the switch–the decentralization may be why the pajama people were so marvelously quick in catching the error missed by CBS.
Interestingly, Van Winkle doesn’t think that blogging spells doom for more traditional outlets like CBS:
“Big media isn’t dying. It never will. The proof of this is that most bloggers get the grist for their mills from traditional big media sources. The impact of the blogosphere is to change the way the media does business. Five years from now, the news channels doing well will be the ones who take the blogosphere seriously, finding ways to use it to better its own reporting and analysis.”