The Boulder

Wednesday, February 22nd 2012

A wise man knows the difference between throwing a pebble in the sea and dropping a boulder on a puddle.

A wise man doesn't wear fur and then think he is a wolf.

A wise man doesn't mistake convoluted aphorisms about wolves and boulders for actual wisdom.

The wise man is less sexist and uses the phrase "wise person" instead.

The wise person stops writing aphorisms before he starts being neurotic about it.


The IT Sunk Cost Equation, Change & the Two Types of Nerd

Tuesday, February 21st 2012

The IT business model is essentially quite simple.

  1. Provide a system to customers (service, device, software, etc);
  2. People use that system to create structured data;
  3. Make it hard (through sheer complexity) for people to transfer data to another system;
  4. Profit from selling access to the system that can understand existing data;
  5. If necessary, change the structure of the data the system generates regularly - so that only your system can interpret it.

The people using the system have invested time and effort in the system, so the structured data they have in the system represents a sunk cost.

If the sunk cost in the system exceeds the benefit of dispensing with the system people will usually stick with the system. (Gradually increasing the sunk cost for as long as they stick with it.)

Intellectual Monopoly Rights & the Control Freak Artist

Monday, February 20th 2012

Lets say a machine that is invented you can upload minds to. To be uploaded, your physical mind must be wiped.

Once uploaded, your mind can be copied, reused, modified, mixed with other minds, and so on. It joins a sort of mind-flux where the mind no longer entirely individuated, but is part of a sort of information ocean.

How would you feel about that? Having three versions of you floating around? Which one is "you"? is there really a "you" at all?

Would you upload your mind?

Some people love the idea. Some people find it slightly disturbing. Some people want to control how their mind is used. There's a variety of reactions.

Intellectual Monopoly Rights, the Techno Loop & the New USSR

Saturday, February 18th 2012

Many of the ideas around copyright, patents, and so on, date from the mid the late 1800s. They are old ideas. Not that there's anything wrong with that, per se.

Computing is comparatively recent phenomenon. Great theoretical work aside, much of what we see now was hatched (in nascent, primitive forms) in the last 60 years.

Intellectual Monopoly Rights & Broken Windows

Friday, February 17th 2012

Years ago my mum pondered creating a course for scientists. It was back in the day of CD-ROMs being a big thing.

She planned a course for scientists. Scientists for whom English was a second language. How to writes PHDs, give seminars, that sort of thing. The course was unique. And years of experience told my mum it was needed.

She started talking to other people who had made courses on other topics. They sold them to India, China, parts of Europe and the Middle East.

They had put in time and money. The courses were, on the whole, very popular. And most had lost money. They were "pirated". So royalties didn't cover expenses.

My mum is the sort of person who is generous with her time and diligent in her teaching. She is interested in education for its own sake. But she has bills to pay, too. Spending working time on a course that would bring in no revenue didn't add up. So she spent that working time teaching professionally instead.

Intellectual Monopoly Rights

Thursday, February 16th 2012

Copyright, patents, trademarks, and so on are often collectively referred to as "intellectual property" or "IP".

The term "IP" muddies discussion. Mere semantics? I don't think so ...

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