Essays on the impact of digital information on innovation
Sloan School of Management.
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The first essay describes how intellectual property (copyright law) might affect the diffusion of newly, digitized information. To evaluate this question, I focus on the digitization of a magazine as a part of the Google Books digitization project and estimate the impact of copyright on magazine issues on subsequent reuse of creative material on Wikipedia. I find that while digitization substantially increases the likelihood of reuse of digitized material on Wikipedia, copyright might substantially impede reuse. The impact of copyright is most pronounced for images as compared to text, for less popular material with fewer substitutes and when the underlying material is available in digital form. The second essay highlights maps as a new form of digital information and posits that the availability of publicly-provided maps is a crucial first step to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. In order to examine this issue, I focus on the impact of the NASA Landsat satellite mapping program on shaping the level and distribution of new discoveries between firms in the gold exploration industry. By comparing regions that quasi-randomly did not receive mapping information due to technical failures in the satellites and cloud-cover in imagery with regions that received publicly-provided maps, I estimate that new maps almost doubled the likelihood of new discoveries in the global gold exploration market between 1950-1990 and also shifted the sources of new discoveries from larger senior firms to younger and smaller junior firms. The third essay continues to explore the role of maps in shaping innovation by focusing on the role of mapping information in shaping innovative behavior in a crowding context. I analyze the impact of the US Census TIGER street-mapping program on shaping innovative activity on OpenStreetMap, a popular online street-mapping community similar to Wikipedia, and used widely on the internet in applications like Foursquare, Apple Maps and Uber. I focus on an error in the use of TIGER information on OpenStreetMap due to which about 60% of the US map benefited from highly-accurate TIGER maps from the US Census while the other 40% did not. In a difference-in-difference framework, I find that counties that received accurate TIGER information were negatively affected on OpenStreetMap as measured by the number of active users, the number of contributions and importantly the production of follow-on knowledge.
Thesis: Ph. D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management, 2016.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references.
DepartmentSloan School of Management.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sloan School of Management.