At 11:14 AM 10/23/2003, Bagotronix Tech Support wrote:
This must be "hammer on Mr. Baggett" day for Abdul.

My apologies. I did not intend to hammer Mr. Baggett, but rather some ideas advanced by him. I think he's better than (some) of his ideas....

I'll give you another amusing joke, which you will no doubt find erroneous:

No, on the contrary, it was not only funny (both jokes were funny), but it is actually a very old story, and, unfortunately, a modern one as well.

Such software would cost more, there is no doubt about it.
> Would we pay it?

How is the market supposed to demand better software?  By offering to pay
more for it?

Well, perhaps. But not just like that, not without first addressing the systemic problems that result in the undesireable effects we know all too well.

  Some of the most expensive software in the world is also the

And this is quite natural. Very expensive software by necessity has a small market. Small market does mean less user testing of the software. And so the software company does most of the testing, and they have, even with all that they charge, limited resources.

  I demand better software by griping and pointing out the flaws in
the current software market.  But I can't stop using what exists now.  If I
did, I couldn't be in this business.

In other words, the griping and pointing is useful only for feeling better by raging a bit, and then the world goes on with business as usual. I do think there is a better way.

Note that I did not, in the previous post, disagree at all with Mr. Bagget that Microsoft is a predatory monopoly.

So my ability to apply leverage to the market is very limited.  Right now it
consists of NOT buying any new Windows licenses, getting by with what I
already have, and converting over to Linux whereever possible.

At great personal cost, as we saw with the example given. What if, instead, you used the software available (buying it as OEM versions, which are much cheaper and therefore less goes to MS), and at the same time invested in an alternative a fraction of the money and time you would have invested in avoiding Windows. What if there are a million people like you and they each kick in $100?

The money would be there to at least begin to develop an alternative. Or, if it got a little bigger, to buy Microsoft.... Note that you don't have to be as big as a company to buy it.... you just have to make an acceptable offer. (I don't know that buying Microsoft would be possible or a good idea, but I do believe it would be possible, and if this hypothetical MS-alternative corporation were to start out with $100 million in cash and a lot of good will, it could seriously threaten Microsoft's market as well as attracting additional financing.

The problem is not that we as users have no power. We have much more power than the monopolists. But they are organized (practically by definition) and we are not.

So how do we organize without running into exactly the same problems? That's what the Beyond Politics concept is about, it's a way to act collectively without losing our individual freedom and placing irrevocable trust in boards of trustees and managers.

(Beyond Politics is not anywhere near ready to solicit contributions, right now, expressions of interest is all it needs --

> We could be part of the solution, instead of just complaining about the
> problem.

I'm trying to be part of the solution.

Certainly. But you still aren't part of the solution yet. A for effort.

  It's just that the first step to a
solution IS identifying and complaining about the problem.

Yes; however, the problem is usually misidentified, as it is in this case. The problem is not Microsoft. The problem is not corrupt politicians. The problem is not money and media. The problem is the system, which creates all of the other negative situations. It's built in, if the system is not changed, the problems will not only continue, they will get worse.

  The next steps
aren't easy.

Actually, I disagree. It is either impossible or it is easy. It is impossible for one person, it is easy for a larger number. I'm not sure where the boundary is, where the leverage starts to work. It's like a seed crystal. A single molecule won't cause a supercooled liquid to freeze, but a seed crystal will. I'm not sure where the boundary is between isolated individual and a seed-crystal organization. But I don't think it is very large, the number might be as small as twenty or so.

  And I encounter much resistance from you, Adbul, in finding
the solution.  For me, it's pretty simple:

Problem:  software is too expensive
Solution:  lower software prices
Problem with the Solution:  I don't set the software prices, others do.  All
I can do is complain and try to avoid buying expensive software.

Which, obviously, doesn't work, or doesn't work well enough to have the desired effect. As I said above, I think you've misidentified the problem.

Problem: archaic political and social system that is breaking down
One Symptom: expensive software

The market sets software prices. You are a member of the market, as am I. But we are not organized as a market.

The market is much larger than Microsoft. Every dime Microsoft earns comes from the market, and the market spends only a small fraction of its resources on Microsoft products and services.

What if every computer user had the option of joining an affinity group? No dues or fees, or perhaps a very small sum. No obligation to participate in tedious meetings or read long boring emails like those I write. Just, simply, a decision to join and to occasionally read a communication from the organization with suggested action. A decision to name a proxy to represent the user in decisions of the organization and to serve as a filter. One would always be able to communicate with one's proxy with concerns and one would generally be available to read communications from one's proxy that the proxy has decided you should see. Most of the time, you'd go on with your ordinary business. If a matter concerns you, you don't use your proxy, you participate yourself.

When an organization gets large, decision making can get difficult. Even with email lists, which could theoretically allow thousands of people to participate in decision making without too much pain, when it gets larger, the traffic becomes too much of a burden. So each "meeting" -- such as a e-mail list or a face-to-face physical meeting would set a limit: if a person does not hold a minimum number of proxies, they do not have the unrestricted right to get the attention of the meeting, i.e., to post to the list, or to place an item on the agenda or speak. However, they still can vote if they choose, and they can approach their proxy (or anyone with the required delegated authority) and request that the proxy present the concern. So the input to the meeting is filtered, and likewise the output is filtered going back to the member. The member does not have to watch everything, it is optional. The only crucial decision the member makes is who to trust. If you don't trust anybody, you can participate yourself. And if you don't trust anyone and you can't participate.... you don't. I don't see any way around that!

That's not the whole concept, there are some checks and balances, but it does give some idea, I think.

The start is not this or that cause, lower software prices, stop-the-war, stop-the-godless-secular-humanists, stop--abortion, stop-repression-of-women. The start is recognizing that we need to find a better way to make decisions as a society and especially to find consensus where possible.

If joining the organization were to require superhuman efforts, fear and guilt-inducing fund drives, it's not going to work. A governing system cannot require the attention of all the members of the society. Biological organisms devote a pretty small percentage of their operating energy and resources to decision-making, I think. A few people will pretty much run the society, in practice. But how these people are chosen -- and removed when necessary -- is key. Elections don't cut it, and I think that is rather obvious. No business elects its managers. they are hired, and they can be fired at the drop of a hat. So why do societies elect leaders and make it very, very difficult to remove them (not to mention to select them)?

In the organizations I envision, leadership is a trust conferred and monitored by every member. If your trust in someone is high, you may not watch them much at all. If it is low, you either choose someone else or you watch the person like a hawk. That decision, made by many members and collected (proxies are delegable as I envision them) selects persons who are widely trusted as the main directors of the organization, always responsible to and reporting to those who gave them the proxies that allow them to function at that level. It's a self-organizing nervous system, if you like.

Nasruddin was pouring yogurt in the lake. He knew that the lake was not milk, "But, just think, what if it takes?"

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