Sunday, April 13, 2008

Disclosure as Tactic and Strategy

Robert Frank has a nice piece on the "full-disclosure principle" in today's NYT Business section. It's called "To Disclose or Not? Ask the Frogs." Give it a read to find out what the frogs have to say on the topic.

The full-disclosure principle suggests that it's alway better to disclose information to potential adversaries lest they think the worst on the assumption that in a population of competitors there are always some that you are better than; even if you info shows you in a poor light, it will make you look better than those who are in reality worse.

It's a great example of a simple result built on some simple assumptions and which very frequently doesn't seem to hold. Why is that a good thing? Because it points us right toward what is peculiar about the situations where it doesn't hold. This is precisely where we start to do a little "sociology of information." Frank does this in the article when he ponders why political candidates aren't full disclosers.

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