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If Your Pearls of Wisdom Fall in a Forest . . .


The idea of doing things that can improve something is an extremely popular concept in American culture. For example, I found the phrase,

make a difference

, in 129 million Web pages in a Yahoo! search in July 2009. The concept typically applies to impacts at local levels because, until recently, few people had opportunities to do things that could positively affect substantial numbers of people throughout the country in which they live or even throughout the world.

After dot com bubble burst, many investors found that the slogan that "the Internet changes everything" did not apply to many of the requirements for having a successful business. However the Internet really does provide opportunities for those who create knowledge to share it with more people who can use it to advantage, and share it more quickly than through other means.

Of course, this potential capability to share materials is limited by people's abilities to find useful information in the billions of pages on the Internet. Yahoo reported indexing over 19 billion pages in 2005. (Perhaps responding to criticism of the estimates,1 the leading search engine companies no longer publish counts of pages indexed. Although no one really knows how big the "haystack" is, the simile about "finding a needle" is quite applicable to the Internet.)

Nevertheless there are two aspects of innovative materials that work in favor of their being found:

• The goals of search engine companies.

• The nature of knowledge.

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