Monday, October 13, 2014

When prestige has merit

The web is a vast distribution network which moves information around the globe, and the quality of that information will I think move the world to a merit measure for prestige.

Like consider the Wikipedia. If you want to know a lot about its potency you can check studies. As much as I'd like to link to independent ones the most definitive source is, yup, the Wikipedia itself:

That is a bit irritating as I prefer independent sources, and didn't see any that seemed suitable when I did a search on Google for this article. Some government or something should have something up, if they knew what they were doing. But a lot of governments today clearly do not.

Prior to the ability to have a world pick for itself, institutions gained prestige by many means and carried that over time. But notice the ignominy now hovering over the prestigious news agency The New York Times, which in my mind is that group of people who with President George W. Bush helped more than most to lead the United States into war. That may sound harsh, but why sugarcoat it?

To me then there is what I'll call classical prestige, and functional prestige.

The Wikipedia has functional prestige: people know it works as they use it, and some people have checked it against other prestigious sources.

While The New York Times has classical prestige: it retains prestige despite some of the greatest press failures in recorded history. People see it as prestigious with it debatable as to whether or not it is functioning at that level.

But that appears to be a learned response. And as new generations arise without being taught that a particular institution has prestige then they are more likely to switch to functional prestige.

The difference with functional prestige is people know the value from moment to moment from what they can use in their daily lives.

That has practical importance to me, as I have various ideas out there in prestigious areas, like my own definition of science, and my own ideas for a science of money.

Those are functional ideas in areas where far more prestigious sources have a lot of dominance. But the web lets me put forward new ideas where I can rely on the discretion of many people.

If the ideas are valuable because they work, then they can gain their own functional prestige, which then is entirely about merit.

The science of money by itself can change the world, not because the original source--me--is prestigious. But because the functional need is so great.

People need to understand money in our modern world. It's just that simple.

In the old world people or organizations could build prestige over time, becoming reliable sources, who could lead the world down dark and wrong paths based primarily on that prestige alone.

The new world pushes your ideas to always work, and catches you immediately when you slip up, and then keeps reminding you constantly of your failure.

And that is how civilization will work best.

It's a new way of doing things. It's the best way of doing things.

Prestige should have merit. Now thanks to the inexorable progress of science and technology which connects people in a way that allows constant checking and accurate reporting on those checks--it can.

And I do think that most prestigious institutions around the world are ready for that challenge and are meeting it.

James Harris
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