In the book Freakonomics, one item I found particularly interesting was the idea of information asymmetry. This is the theory that someone (an expert) knows more than somebody else, and uses that for their advantage. The book tells about how the internet has “gravely wounded” information asymmetries.
Freakonomics details about how insurance, funeral and real estate business models have drastically changed for the better (if you are a consumer) by the internet. Everybody now has the knowledge about how much a coffin really costs, and can make a decision based of their knowledge, and not on the knowledge that the funeral director chooses to give them.
It is easy to see how this same idea can apply to religion, and the LDS religion in particular. Before the internet, knowledge about the LDS church was asymmetrically controlled by the First Presidency and Q12. They decided how open or closed the historical archives should be. They decided that the policies of the church should be hidden in the Church Handbook of Instruction.
Then along came the internet, and they no longer had control over the knowledge. Now the knowledge was always out there, but to get to it you had to dig, read books by relatively unknown authors, and subscribe to Sunstone and Dialogue. But today it takes but a few seconds to have more data available on your screen that is in a university library.
The affect of the demise of information asymmetry in the church can be debated, but there is no question that the current essays and new history of the Saints book is a direct result of this information equalization. The church can no longer be the arbitrators of what the members can see and learn about. So instead of standing behind the correlated history, they are being forced to confront it head on.
What are others ways that the end of the information asymmetry has affected the church?