wStoned Out Loud
As the Rolling Stones began their tour while welching on the more than quarter of a million dollar deal they made with my Friend, I started this e-Blogazine journal to document some of my experience of the fallout, and to create a forum for discussion and resources to reform the Music Industry. May Artists, Musicians, and Free People everywhere find it useful.


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wFriday, February 28, 2003

Electronic Economy - Just Getting Started


"There is no Maginot Line of the brain."
- Norbert Weiner, Cybernetics

Quite by accident I found this story while seaching for links to the Democracy Wall, to which we are giving a makeover. The altavista search was for "links:http://books.dreambook.com/vead/tiananmen.html", and this link was on page 2 of the results.

Actually, this article was extracted from a submission to an O'Reilly P2P Conference in Washington, D.C, in the spring of 2001. I never made the conference, the submission was late and I was too broke to go anyway. But I'm glad that some of the ideas in it made it out onto the web. Here's what they took to publish. --dcm


Electronic Economy - Just Getting Started

By David C. Manchester

"There is no Maginot Line of the brain."
- Norbert Weiner, Cybernetics

For all the talk and hype about and the e-economy, e-this and e-that, it should be observed that the truly electronic economy has yet to begin.

I say this because microelectronic data processing, the CPU on a chip, the development of open standards that permit true cross-platform interoperability, GNU Free Software, and Open Source marketing *each* represent significant inflection points in the dynamics of the world's market economies.

What do I mean by "significant inflection points?" With the advent of each, the phase-space -- to borrow a term from nonlinear dynamics -- of the economy expanded by at least an order of magnitude.

H. Marshall McLuhan observed that with each new media technology, all previous media formats become "content." By this reasoning, inventing and using computers in the 1950s and '60s externalized manual bookkeeping and economic accounting practices off the pages of paper ledgers and into electronic pulses.

Fast Transactions

By speeding our transactions to the microelectronic speeds of micro- and nanoseconds, the phase-space of our economy expanded enormously.

Of course, that's an understatement, considering that a nanosecond is to one second as one second is to *thirty years.* Moreover, this acceleration was accompanied by the off-loading of the financial transactions themselves to the new media: electric pulses, bits, 1's and 0's.

Considering these facts, it's a pretty easy argument to make that using computers for economic accounting transactions sped things up so much that it allowed the world economy to grow bigger faster.


McLuhan also alluded to the fact that with each new media, an individual's relation to the collective Culture of Man changes. That's what I mean by "inflection point."

Inevitable Expansion

The rapid emergence of the CPU in the 1970s and the PC market in the 1980s were further inflection points. Concentrating the functions of a computing "system" on a single chip made it a foregone conclusion that there would be rapid market expansion in the 1980s.

Despite arguments to the contrary, Bill Gates had very little to do with it, except to act as a brake on such expansion through coercive and exclusive per-processor licensing arrangements -- hardly "agreements" -- with original equipment manufacturers and PC makers.

The phase-space of the information technology business sector vastly increased with the release of the Altair kit in the mid-'70s, the Imsai, and Apple's openly published slot pinout assignments.

With Microelectronics, the CPU and the expansion of PC markets despite Microsoft, the world's free-market economies passed through big inflection points, which expanded the possible sizes of market economies through having bigger and faster phase-spaces for achievement, transactions and further invention. Each of these events also qualifies, in my opinion, as a new medium.

From Computers to Content

Computer systems were a new medium to which the true "old" legacy economy became "content." CPUs on a single chip made possible vast new spaces for individual developer achievement, with developers in garage-labs all over the world creating the modern PC industry, creating add-on cards for the Apple II and IBM PC, and so forth.

Affordable PCs made it possible for individuals to play on a much more level field of achievement, with the CPU being the "content" palette of the emerging PC-media. With each inflection point, the preceding media became "content." And the economy expanded. With each inflection point, the individual human being's relation to the community changed.

Ongoing Transition

I was privileged to attend Linux Expo 4 at Duke University and hear Eric Raymond discuss his "Homesteading the Noosphere." He talked about "staking out" areas of work and contributing code to projects, and he likened the hacker community to a gift economy. The more an individual contributed, the more gift-mojo he accumulated.

This emerging economy we could liken in some ways to a gift economy, where gift-mojo status is the coin of the realm. The MPAA, the RIAA and hordes of intellectual property and copyright lawyers want to shovel their arguments against this tide. In the process, they've demonstrated that a human's freedom to share, assemble and cooperate takes a back seat to their priorities.

From the leaked Halloween Documents to the MPAA's efforts to suppress DeCSS, it has become clear: These forces have no way forward, and they have no vision of the future for the global economy except the suppression of the freedom to assemble, cooperate, compete freely and share.

Feedback to Feed-Forward

We are moving from a payback economy to a pay-forward one. Soon we will have automated most of the jobs people do to make a living. What kind of world will we have when a scant percent of humanity owns 90 percent of everything?

What will the rest of humanity do? We will leave them behind..

- Dave Manchester
New London, CT
April, 2001



posted by gathering moss at 3:09 PM





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