Summary of Why Information Grows

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MIT professor César Hidalgo explains that as people gain more knowledge and know-how they create more goods and their national economies expand. He introduces the ways that individuals convey knowledge and know-how and create products that contain information. His fascinating exploration discusses the conversion of information into economic potential. He provides anecdotes about human relations, and offers data and graphs that support his discussion of economics. Hidalgo offers new, theoretical and practical ideas about the economic relationships within networks, industries, communities and nations. getAbstract finds that his insights will intrigue students, professors, corporate leaders, strategists and policy makers.

About the Author

César Hidalgo is a professor at MIT and the director of the Macro Connections group at MIT’s Media Lab. He was a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader in 2012 and one of Wired’s “50 People Who Will Change the World.”



“The Nature of Information”

An economy uses knowledge and know-how to create products. For example, a Bugatti Veyron sports car costs $2.5 million. The value of each car emerges from the information that went into producing it. The information that exists in the car comes from the knowledge and know-how of the individuals who made it. In such a context, knowledge is the understanding of the relationships among bits of information, such as how aerodynamics might affect the speed of the car. Know-how is the practical ability to use the information. Know-how isn’t the ability to create chords and sounds on a guitar, but the ability to play the instrument fluidly.

Information’s Solid Shape

Energy, matter and information make up the universe. Information itself has a physical presence and accrues in solid shapes, such as products. Although information crystallizes into solid form, the shapes it can take are hard to predict. Consider the physics involved: When matter disperses, it loses information; a swirl of milk in coffee eventually reaches equilibrium so the coffee and the milk are no longer two distinct entities each providing individual information.


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