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UPDATED: RedPepper: A World Without Microsoft

Mar 29, 2001, 14:09 (60 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Heather Sharp)

Tony Stanco wrote in this morning with these thoughts:

A lot of commentators to this article are trying to use inappropriate terms, and so are missing a huge point. We are entering the intellectual age, so your great grandfather's socio-economic labels no longer apply. We need to find new terms and ideas to describe our own reality.

And to do that you need to go back to first principles, which is why FreeDevelopers wiped the slate clean and went back to the most basic principles:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable Rights, and that chief among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

And went on from there in the Declaration of Software Freedom and The Community is the Company (CommCo) organizational structure.

I call the emerging paradigm "democratic economics" and the new commercial organizations, "democratic economic structures." But who cares what you call it. But you need to understand that we are in a new, strange land.

Someone some time back said I should look at Dee Hock's "Birth of the Chaordic Age." Dee Hock is the founder of VISA and since the VISA structure is one of the models for the FreeDevelopers', The Community is the Company (CommCo) structure, I was meaning to take a look for awhile. Well, I had some down-time on Tuesday and went to the library and picked it up.

And this is what he says on the back cover:

We are at the very point in time when a 400-year-old age is dying and another is struggling to be born - a shifting of culture, science, society, and institutions enormously greater than the would has ever experienced. Ahead, the possibility of regeneration of individuality, liberty, community and ethics, such as the world has never known, and a harmony with nature, with one another and with the divine intelligence such as the wolrld has always dreamed.

In short, he gets it. In fact, boy, does he get it. I haven't finished it, yet, but so far there is a lot in it that is spot-on.

He calls it chaordic (chaos and order). 1. the behaviour of any self-governing organism, organization or system which harmoniously blends characteristics of order and chaos. 2. patterned in a way dominated by neither chaos or order.

I would add, democratic self-governing organization or system, but so what. The ideas are there.

The reason that the VISA model was so appealing for FreeDevelopers is because it is a model of competition and cooperation between the independent member banks who use the VISA structure to solve their collective action problems that they had when they had the same networking problems as the independent free software projects are having now.

So we are at a point where old thinking isn't going to help. In fact, it hurts. You are going to have to think for yourself for awhile. But that's the fun part.


Here's the excerpt from the original story:

"If you own a PC, you've got your own software factory. If you can write good software, multi-billion pound companies need you -- but you could string together the words and numbers that shape the world as well from a bedroom in Calcutta as from their plush offices in Silicon Valley. The consumers own the means of production, the workers hold all the cards: welcome to the future, a world where the anarchy of software economics has the potential to overturn capitalism."

"Or, alternatively, there's the doomsday scenario:"

"We are about to enter an age that would have thrilled all the dictators of the past. An age where machines can be a totally obedient, non-human, police force allowing absolute control over the movement and interaction of every individual," says Tony Stanco of the embryonic radical software company FreeDevelopers.net."

"To him there is a war on. If things keep going as they are now, before we know it the profit-making strategies of "proprietary" companies such as Microsoft will leave us with our communications, commerce and, potentially, democracy controlled by programmes no-one can scrutinise and few can understand; created and marketed to us by unaccountable billionaires: "Since proprietary software is by definition unseen code not subject to scrutiny by the public, it gives too much power to a few, unelected businessmen, mostly from the US. Looking back on human history, nightmarish scenarios cannot be hard to imagine," says Stanco."

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