Knowledge is power


In the 1990’s Welsh rock legends The Manic Street Preachers sang “Libraries gave us power and then work came and made us free” in their anthemic track “A Design for Life”. The Manic’s were highlighting the transformational impact that libraries had on working class communities in the 19th Century. The opening line of the song 'Libraries gave us power' was inspired by a legend engraved over the entrance to the former library in Pillgwenlly, Newport, which was built in 1893 and is 15 miles from the band's home town of Blackwood in Wales.

The knowledge that was previously only available to those in academia or with the funds available to buy knowledge was now available to the masses.

Fast forward 90 years to 1982 where the first use of the term Internet is made. In 1988 there were over 45 million personal computers in use in the United States. In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee proposes a markup protocol ‘http’ which kick started the World Wide Web triggering an explosion of information sharing and services.

In the late 90’s I was in my early 30’s working in a technology company as a software engineer. The dot com boom was starting to roll. No one in my family had ever shown any interest in investing, I’d never heard anyone in my social circle talk of investing. No one in our family had a background in finance or running a business. For me investing just wasn’t in my realm. Then a colleague in work wondered if I might consider it. I had no idea what I was doing but like everyone else at that time I was keen to climb aboard for fear of missing out. I signed up to a Charles Schwab account and bought Psion, ARM Holdings and Vodafone. Of course I did well, everyone did until the wheels fell off. I’d been reading The Motely Fool forums listening intently to the commentary not understanding a lot of it. When things went well I’d be patting myself on the back, when things went bad I’d blaming the commentator on the forums. Isn’t the ego a fragile thing?

As a complete novice I had no idea if I was really choosing a good investment, instead I was relying on the opinions of others on message boards. In psychology terms…

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