Salted caramel ice cream and the blessings of free-flowing information


I am a great believer in readily available, widely distributed information. I am especially fond of public information, the cornerstone of free choice and free exchange. Markets operate more efficiently with greater, rather than restricted data; our democracy functions best when it is best informed.

Anything that aids my decision-making by increasing information’s content, along with relevant information management systems, tends to produce a stronger, better outcome than the reverse. Public policy decisions are skeptically greeted by the Minnesota public precisely because the public perceives that policy makers either have additional information unavailable to the public or are acting in self-interest, hiding behind that perception of inadequate data flow while pursuing a less than publicly motivated agenda.

The solution lies in greater information transparency. The more we know what everyone else knows, the greater our range of informed choices driving a more informed commercial, informational or policy markets.

Extrapolating from my contention, Izzy’s Ice Cream is clearly moving Minnesota’s public policy debate forward, one ice cream tub at a time. Saturday – reviewing a half-day’s worth of tweets – a Metro IBA post, forwarded from Izzy’s, caught my eye. A new tub of salted caramel ice cream had just been dropped on to the serving line. I jumped into my vehicle and raced the two miles separating me from a single in a sugar cone, graced with a Hot Brown Sugar Izzy’s scoop.

Mmm. Salted caramel.

Earlier this year, Izzy’s co-owner/founder, Jeff Sommers, embraced his inner tech geek. Working with a radio frequency inventory tagging firm unused to anything smaller than a warehouse full of boxes, he developed a system that tracked ice cream tub replacement. That information principally aids waiting customers by updating the store’s available ice cream display board, minimizing decision-making lags and keeping the line moving.

The same inventory updates can also automatically be communicated to potential customers, producing my race to Izzy’s.

It was good. It was also innovative and Minnesota needs more of that. I like to think that Jeff and I doing our part to inform our democracy — or at least the part fueled by ice cream and widely-communicated information.