Thursday, July 16, 2009

In defense of mad schemes

In these pages I've cast a jaundiced eye on such matters as the Attention Economy and the notion that information wants to be free, generally arguing that when Everything is Different Now, it probably isn't. Pixel advertising, anyone?

It may come as a surprise then that I still think it's worth something for people to try to re-imagine the basic tenets of economics and society. Occasionally something does come of it, albeit not always what the innovators expected. When it does, the whole mechanism lurches forward another small notch.

For example, the GNU Manifesto didn't kill commercial software or supplant the model of software developers making a living by writing proprietary code as employees of commercial software houses. It has, however, led to the development of a lot of good code that's readily available, and the ecosystem is better for it.

It's also worth noting that the prospective shaker-uppers are generally acting on their own initiative, putting up their own money and using their own time, and/or convincing others to do so willingly.

That said, it still seems important to remember that of all the arrows shot at the moon, most fall to ground harmlessly (and some harmfully), some snag a wayward goose, and few if any actually reach their intended target.

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