Over the next 10 years, a new type of wealthy elite will rapidly appear on the back of the unique information capital asset class. If you know what to look for, it’s clear that these new elites are already emerging. And this trend is going to continue. The next 10 years will be similar to the “time periods” gone by. When early movers took big risks to develop new develop a new asset class. By being first movers, they created generational accumulative advantage.
The railroad, the telegraph, oil, nuclear weapons, and the internet are all examples of time period defining assets. Wealthy people, businesses, and nations that established an early foothold over these resources and assets played central roles in the societies of their time. We’re still in the early stages of the digital epoch, but its clear that the wealth defining assets of this age will be informational capital assets. Over the next 10 years, the early accumulated advantage of this digital asset class will gather momentum and separate the haves from the have nots.
But what exactly are information capital assets? How do you get them? And how does good curation make them valuable?
What is an Information Capital Asset and Why Is it Important?
Capital assets are types of property or possessions a person owns that produce future value. Modern epoch examples include land, stocks, bonds, patents, art, businesses, and commodities. Owning the rights to these assets provides the bearer with future value. In past epochs, wealth defining capital assets included livestock, knights, and even slaves. In modern times, businesses, individuals, and even nations can own capital assets, although there are sometimes differences between them.
The information age as we know it began with the invention of microprocessing. In simplistic terms, the computer allowed for the storage, transfer, and processing of information at scales that had previously been impossible. This scale allowed for society to benefit from the transaction of shared knowledge in new ways. One example was the creation of the information capital asset.
An information capital asset is the ownership rights to organized information. It’s typically digital property, and sometimes intellectual property or resources that produce future value. Examples include encyclopedias/wikis, websites, content portfolios, social media accounts, digital storefronts (Shopify), digital assets like bitcoin and non-fungible tokens, niche podcasts, video blogs, curated lists, avatars, and gaming items.
These assets get their value from curating and packaging unique bundles of information into an asset that can be found and valued by many people.
The internet and the creation of a globally connected network has transitioned society into the digital age. And through this transition, information capital assets are flourishing from increased access to more people that find them valuable. As the world becomes more connected, the individuals that capitalize on these assets early will become the wealthy elite of the digital age.
An Information Capital Asset Gains Value Through Curation & Network Effects
Internet adoption is the critical value driver for these capital assets because it taps into massive network effects. With network effects, as more people join a network, the more value the network has. And with information capital assets, it’s important to connect them to large networks in order to increase the asset value. Why? Because a well developed information capital asset can greatly increase in value by exposing it to global demand.
It’s like selling a Moroccan cookbook in a small town bookstore versus on Amazon. By selling the book online, the potential customer base grows significantly, increasing the potential value of the book. A total market size of a 20,000 person town versus a market size of 4 billion people with internet access, growing at nearly 10% a year.
It’s easy to see the value of creating assets on the internet but this network value is lost without proper curation techniques.
What is Curation?
Simply connecting to the internet doesn’t make information valuable. That’s because the internet is like a massive information marketplace with over 4 billion shoppers. As more people join the network, they add more information to the web, making it a crowded place. To properly leverage the network value, information must be curated in a way that it can be found by people that value it.
Think of curation as a method of organizing and exhibiting information in a standardized way. It’s a way of using the internet’s best practices of communicating to large numbers of network participants. By effectively curating information, it’s possible to maximize their network value. And when content is optimized for network consumption, an information capital asset is created.
“Curation, is an editorial process. It’s a mix of art and science. It requires a clear and definable voice, an editorial mission, and an understanding of your audience and community.” – Steven Rosenbaum
“To ‘curate an exhibit’ is to create a collection of works by the same or different artists that have some commonality for an involved interpretation of the material, for an intended audience.”
In the digital age, curation is the deliberate selection of content, organized for public consumption. It’s a focused form of organization around a topic, an idea, a technique, or person.
The Key Step to Information Curation: Making the Information Accessible
This is a critical step that we all intuitively know but frequently fail to execute. Appearance matters, always. Organizing valuable information for consumption is mostly about how you present it to the network for consumption. Skipping this step can make or break the value.
With so many network participants, the internet can be deceptively hard to navigate. Unless you know exactly what you’re looking for, you’re unlikely to go beyond the first page of Google search results. Nearly 75% of users don’t go beyond the first search page.
So what exactly does that mean? Organization and content specificity matters. “50% of search queries contain 4 or more words” The ability to understand what the information capital asset is, who values it, and how they would identify it and seek it out matter immensely for increasing it’s network value. Going back to the Moroccan cook book example, there may be 100,000 different Moroccan cook books on the internet. Creating a more nuanced description of the book and it’s contents will increase the likelihood it’s found.
Information curation is also about convenience. The goal is to make it easy for the massive expanse of the internet to find and evaluate information. By understanding the power of network effects and the content curation standards of the internet, you can acquire and create valuable information capital assets. And these assets will be owned and controlled by the Sovereign Individuals of the digital age.
I’m building a digital age worldview. Every Monday, I write and curate a publication called The Sovereign Individual. A weekly newsletter that includes news roundups and analysis to help digital age workers adapt and thrive in our changing society. Topics intersect at geopolitics, fintech, crypto, individual responsibility, and personal freedom. Don’t get left behind, subscribe below.