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Re: [VCTF] ID2020, United Nations, and press releases

From: Steven Rowat <steven_rowat@sunshine.net>
Date: Thu, 2 Jun 2016 11:14:03 -0700
To: Credentials Community Group <public-credentials@w3.org>, Web Payments IG <public-webpayments-ig@w3.org>
Message-ID: <42897e28-e27a-678c-57c1-7700feb5d5c7@sunshine.net>
On 6/1/16 8:56 AM, Manu Sporny wrote:
> Microsoft, Consensys, and Blockstack recently made a series of product
> press release announcements that made it seem like the release was in
> collaboration with the United Nations ID2020 initiative...[snip]
>
> Here is why it's premature to make announcements tied to ID2020:

>[snip]

> To be clear, I don't think there was any malice intended at all - just
> unchecked exuberance coupled with a badly coordinated/cleared press
> release....
>
> -- manu
>

A good heads-up about what they've done, although with respect I'll 
disagree about whether there was 'any malice intended'. I think you're 
being a little Pollyanna-ish here. ;-)

"History recalls how great the fall can be
While everybody's sleeping, the boats put out to sea"
   —Supertramp, "Fool's Overture"

I remember the leak of internal documents from Microsoft many years 
ago, now called the "Halloween documents". I believe this may be a 
parallel situation (their desire to 'control' self-sovereign identify 
now, like their desire at that time to control emerging aspects of the 
Internet like the open-source movement and browsers).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween_documents

 From the above link, about the Halloween Documents:

"Marked "Microsoft confidential", they identified open-source 
software, and in particular the Linux operating system, as a major 
threat to Microsoft's dominance of the software industry,[3] and 
suggested ways in which Microsoft could disrupt the progress of 
open-source software.

"These documents acknowledged that free software products such as 
Linux were technologically competitive with some of Microsoft's 
products, [4] and set out a strategy to combat them. These views 
contradicted Microsoft's public pronouncements on the subject."

Two aspects of this I note particularly, both of which are potentially 
happening here: that they behaved internally one-way and gave "public 
pronouncements" that were different; and that they wanted to compete 
with and/or destroy high-quality technology that was different from 
their own -- competitive in the worst sense, rather than co-operative. 
As the analysis linked from the Wikipedia page numbered [3] above says,

"Therefore, for Microsoft to win, the customer must lose.

"The most interesting revelation in this memo is how close to 
explicitly stating this logic Microsoft is willing to come."

Links from the Wikipedia quote:
[3] http://www.catb.org/~esr/halloween/halloween1.html#quote7
[4] http://www.catb.org/~esr/halloween/halloween1.html#quote5

It could be argued that that was 'historic' -- over a decade ago -- 
and this is 'different'. But in my opinion the Microsoft business 
model, its corporate culture, is unlikely to have changed. I'll point 
to what recently happened in the block of the Web Payments Community 
Group work in the Web Payments Working Group as evidence that this 
culture continues.

See Manu's description of this event:

http://manu.sporny.org/2016/browser-api-incubation-antipattern/

which included these sections:

"2016 February – The months old Microsoft/Google specification is 
picked as the winner over the years old work that went into the Web 
Payments Community Group specification. Zero features from the Web 
Payments Community Group specification are merged with a suggestion to 
perform pull requests if the Web Payments Community Group would like 
modifications made to the Microsoft/Google specification.

"Four Months of Warning Signs

"The thing the Web Payments Working Group did not want to happen, the 
selection of one specification with absolutely zero content being 
merged in from the other specification, ended up happening. Let’s 
rewind a bit and analyze how this happened."

Q.E.D.

Steven
Received on Thursday, 2 June 2016 18:14:34 UTC

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