Hal Varian's Words of Wisdom
By Arnold Kling
This interview has many. A good quote to give my statistics students:
If you are looking for a career where your services will be in high demand, you should find something where you provide a scarce, complementary service to something that is getting ubiquitous and cheap. So what’s getting ubiquitous and cheap? Data. And what is complementary to data? Analysis. So my recommendation is to take lots of courses about how to manipulate and analyze data: databases, machine learning, econometrics, statistics, visualization, and so on.
But he completely muffed this question:
faced with a choice between two software products, one costing $5 and the other being free but “costing” 2 hours per month of lost efficiency, many people would choose the free version. However, if you were to offer them the same $5 (one-time payment) in return for 2 hours of their time each month for, say, the next year, many of them would turn you down.
The answer can be found in a paper on Incentives in Software Design. I can’t believe it didn’t occur to Hal Varian to mention this paper. Clearly, the shift from academia to business causes rapid depreciation of human capital.