Mappa.Mundi Magazine
Info-Rule #1
Info-Rule #3
Info-Rule #4
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Spacer Image Hal Varian Hal Varian
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Hal R. Varian is the Dean of the School of Information Management and Systems at UC Berkeley. He also holds joint appointments in the Haas School of Business and the Department of Economics and occupies the Class of 1944 University Professorship. He received his S.B. degree from MIT in 1969 and his MA and Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 1973. Professor Varian has published numerous papers in economic theory, econometrics, industrial organization, public finance, and the economics of information technology.

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» Hal Varian's homepage - at the University of California, Berkeley.

» Mining In Textual Mountains - a Mappa.Mundi Magazine interview with Marti Hearst.
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By Marty Lucas, Trip-M Archives »

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In This Trip-M
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Marty Lucas Mappa.Mundi's Founding Editor, Marty Lucas, interviewed Dean Hal Varian at his office on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley on November 18, 1999. In this edition of Trip-M, he looks for the fundamental concepts underlying the network economics perspectives of Hal Varian and co-author Carl Shapiro in the book Information Rules.

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Knowing the Rules
A conversation with Hal Varian

       When Hal Varian looks into cyberspace he doesn't see any paradigms shifting. He doesn't see a mysterious and uncharted realm without precedent in human experience. He doesn't see a netherworld without rules or limits. Hal Varian is an economist-when he looks into cyberspace he sees networks for the distribution of goods behaving according to recognized economic rules.

       This view, expressed by Varian in Information Rules; A Strategic Guide to the Information Economy along with co-author Carl Shapiro, struck a chord among the players in the high-stakes IT game, and a year after its publication Information Rules is still going strong. It isn't surprising that Information Rules has proven popular-when you're playing to win, it really helps to know the rules of the game.

       What are the rules of a network economy? And, how can we use them to identify winning strategies for the information age? At the core, Varian and Shapiro's systematic approach to understanding the behavior of the IT economy is rooted in these four basic concepts, or "Info-Rules".

» Info-Rule #1 Technology changes. Economic laws do not.
» Info-Rule #2 Information is anything in digital format that people are willing to pay for.
» Info-Rule #3 Information is costly to produce but cheap to reproduce.
» Info-Rule #4 The information economy is driven by the economics of networks.

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Icon » Open Source
Is there trouble ahead for the open source movement? Hal Varian thinks there may be, and offers some suggestions for avoiding potential pitfalls.

» Standards
Why the information economy breeds battles over standards.

» Monopolies
Find out what Hal Varian says about monopolies, the Microsoft anti-trust litigation, and the role of government in the information age.

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Next » Info-Rule #1 & 2

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