Economical Impact of Free Knowledge

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I would like to see a discussion on the impact of Free Knowledge on the development of the global economy. In my understanding, in today’s world, knowledge and commercialization is an important asset for companies and contributes significantly to the bottom line. This is evident in patents, for example. The goal of the Wikimedia Foundation is that every person has access to the entire knowledge of mankind and can freely share it. If this goal will be reached, a strong increase in efficiency will follow. It will become more attractive for companies to use existing knowledge instead of developing their own. The interesting question is whether companies will continue to develop new things or whether they will no longer develop new things, because it is not profitable. Personally, I think that such a development requires a change in business models and I am confident that enough jobs will continue to exist. From my point of view, however, there should be alternatives even in the event of a major increase in efficiency. There is still a lot of knowledge from the past that is not yet digitized and there is a lot of software and other technology or mechanisms whose research and documentation offer the potential to employ people. What do you see as the impact of Free Knowledge on the global economy and do you think the Wikimedia Foundation should do something that also after knowledge is free people have jobs. One possibitly could be funding organizations that describe how software works or that digitalize old books and other documents.

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I totally agree with you. I hope we can get some actual replies here. I think the whole point of this forum is to provide some attention and response to ideas like the one stated above. I do not understand why there has not been any response to this, and I would like to see the WMF become more proactive in this regard in the near future. I am tagging @NPhan_WMF , @JKoerner-WMF , @AJohnson_WMF , @Rosiestep , and @Whatamidoing_WMF . I would appreciate a reply within some reasonable time. I appreciate your help.

Считаю актуальным направлением проектов финансирования организаций развивающихся стран мира, которые описывают и обучают как работает программное обеспечение и которые занимаются оцифровкой древних книг и других документов, в том числе на национальном языке. Хранение книг и архивных документов, не соответствует современным требованиям, ввиду мизерных бюджетов развивающихся стран на подобные цели и в связи с экономическими глобальными и региональными депрессиями.

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[This is my opinion, posted by volunteer-me.]

It will become more attractive for companies to use existing knowledge instead of developing their own.

I think this premise is wrong. It is perhaps true that businesses and other organizations will not need to duplicate work that was already done by someone else, unless they perceive a benefit to replicating or validating the prior work.

It is, however, also true that people will still generate new information and new variants. Governments and businesses will want to know how many people live in each city now, not just years ago. There will still be surveys about what people think about the current politicians and current problems, not just the old ones. If we determine some fact – maybe that alcoholic beverages cause breast cancer – someone will want to know whether the effects are the same around the world, or what happens if you stop drinking, or whether the effects are the same in men and women, etc. IMO there will always be demand for new knowledge.

The interesting question is whether companies will continue to develop new things or whether they will no longer develop new things, because it is not profitable.

The patent system is an instructive example here. Patents allowed people to disclose trade secrets, while maintaining profitability. Other businesses used that (previously secret) information from the patent description to develop new things and new knowledge, which made them profitable and their customers happy. It seems likely to me that people will also use free knowledge to develop new things and new knowledge.

More to the point, businesses usually develop new things because they are trying to solve problems that they believe people will pay money to have solved. With or without free knowledge, people need food, housing, medicine, and clothing. We need clean water, clean air, and clean soil. If businesses use free knowledge to solve problems, why wouldn’t people still pay them for solving the problems? The knowledge of how to build a house is already free. Nearly all of us still pay someone to build the house.

What do you see as the impact of Free Knowledge on the global economy and do you think the Wikimedia Foundation should do something that also after knowledge is free people have jobs.

I don’t really see why the Wikimedia Foundation should be considered for the “make sure everyone has a salary” role. The entire Wikimedia Movement (which is bigger than the US non-profit organization) is only one part of free-knowledge movement. (Also, it won’t work: the WMF’s total revenue last year was about US $0.02 per human – an amount so small that most adults in the wealthier countries would not pick it up, if they saw the two small coins lying on the sidewalk.)

That said, the WMF does fund some mission-aligned non-profit organizations to partner with volunteers and projects, as well as some organizations engaged in building knowledge equity. See Grants:Programs/Wikimedia Alliances Fund - Meta and Knowledge Equity Fund - Meta for more information about these existing programs.

Some hard data on this:

Our research found that the median value that U.S. consumers place on Wikipedia is about $150 a year—but the cost is $0. That translates into roughly $42 billion in consumer surplus that isn’t reflected in the U.S. GDP. How Should We Measure the Digital Economy?

We estimate that achieving the 9.8M monthly clicks on official links would cost a total of $7–13 million using Google Ads. Extrapolating to 12 months, the yearly cost would amount to
$84–156 million. This is a remarkably high number, considering that the annual revenue of the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-forprofit organization that operates Wikipedia and its sister projects, stands at around $110 million,10 coming entirely from donations and voluntary contributions. We also emphasize that the estimated economic value of $84–156 million pertains to English Wikipedia only, whereas Wikimedia’s annual revenue of $110 million needs to support all Wikimedia projects across languages. [2102.07385] On the Value of Wikipedia as a Gateway to the Web

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Just to name a case, free meteorological info from airports fuels the many free weather apps there are. I wonder if research can be conducted to see if public schools in rural areas get the benefit of Reading Wikipedia and how that changes their lives. That’s something I take for granted every day, but haven’t read any formal research about it.

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