MEASURING the value of a good is much trickier than measuring the cost, since value inherently involves consideration of a hypothetical: what would your life be like without that good?
So one way to measure the value of online search would be to measure how much time it saves us compared to methods we used in the bad old days before Google. Based on a random sample of Google queries, the UM researchers found that answering them using the library took about 22 minutes while answering them using Google took 7 minutes. Overall, Google saved 15 minutes of time. (This calculation ignores the cost of actually going to the library, which in some cases was quite substantial. The UM authors also looked at questions posed to reference librarians as well and got a similar estimate of time saved.)
I attempted to convert this time to dollar savings using the average wage and came up with about $500 per adult worker per year. This may seem like a lot, but it works out to just $1.37 a day. I would guess that most readers of this blog get $1.37 worth of value per day out of their search engine use.
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Internet - Varian tries to evaluate the worth of the Internet, with search alone worth USD 1.37 day
Hal Varian writing in The Economist addresses the question: