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Re: From W3C's eCommerce Interest Group of the 1990s to Today's Web Payments Discussion

From: Joseph Potvin <jpotvin@opman.ca>
Date: Tue, 8 Apr 2014 14:21:19 -0400
Message-ID: <CAKcXiSrnjRfxWae==D8cT-J=_S6JSO=tLVrrGwDrq4OTaw7HgQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: Steven Rowat <steven_rowat@sunshine.net>
Cc: Web Payments CG <public-webpayments@w3.org>
Steven, The monetary system and any generic medium of exchange are for
everbody of every political/economic inclination, the jerks and the
saints, the ecologically careful and the planet-trashers, the
desperately poor and the super rich. Like the Web itself, any W3C Spec
on Web Payments or Web Commerce has be uniformly useful to all of the
above and more, or it will fail for everybody.  Keep in mind that by
working on a project of this sort, you can't help but commit to
helping advance the interests of people you disagree with on many
important issues. The good principles of the W3C (and I suggest the
UNCITRAL) need to be front and centre, but there will always be a risk
of ending up with regrets like Thomas Peterffy:

Joseph Potvin

On Tue, Apr 8, 2014 at 12:55 PM, Steven Rowat <steven_rowat@sunshine.net> wrote:
> On 4/7/14 5:11 PM, Joseph Potvin wrote:
>> RE: members of [any group] will not, unless forced, take kindly to
>> anything that obstructs their interests (as they define them)
>> There's nothing unique in that way about large companies. The same can
>> be said for any organization, including a local farmer's market.
> What you say is true, because I didn't clearly state that my underlying
> objection is specific to legally-mandated profit-seeking companies; perhaps
> I believed that part understood. But anyway, your answer doesn't seem to
> address that.
> To clarify: I meant that the specific interests -- maybe better termed
> 'goals' -- of profit-seeking companies are different from those of religious
> groups, groups of scientists, NGO groups, loose groups of anarchists, and so
> on. Each one will have a goal or set of goals and they may differ widely
> (and/or overlap at times).
> And there probably exists a group, 'non-competitive peaceful humanists' (but
> call them what you want) whose goal is something like: 'where possible to
> co-exist and support all other human beings without doing physical,
> financial, or psychological violence to them'.
> My point is that such a goal (or any other that benefits all of humankind)
> is at best a secondary goal of a profit-seeking corporation, and where it
> conflicts with financial profit it will be overridden. The corporation is
> legally required to do this. (Leaving aside the newer format, 'Benefit
> corporation', which is still a trivial proportion of the number of
> corporations).
> This is not news; that's why we have 'regulation'. And so the corporations
> have evolved, in turn, to co-opt the process of making the regulations.
> Here's a quote from "Toxic Capitalism: Corporate Crime And The Chemical
> Industry." (Pearce and Tombs, Toronto, Canadian Scholars Press, 1998):
> "Central to this text is a recognition of the need to reassess what we
> understand by the term 'regulation'.... At present, corporations and their
> representatives themselves play dominant, often covert, roles in the
> development of regulations to which they are then subjected; they then play
> key roles in negotiating the ways in which, and extent to which, such
> regulations are actually enforced." [page 312].
> This was my concern with the W3C in my experience with the HTML5
> development, which Charles McCathie Nevile has confirmed in a later post:
>> I also think the often intense politics that led to the HTML WG and which
>> go back
>> over a decade account for some of its atypical nature.
> Charles speaks positively about this being an anomaly for the W3C, and that
> is comforting. Yet it might only be that HTML5 was the most important single
> change available for corporations to influence since the web's inception,
> and so they did. The fact that the change might have proceeded in a way that
> disenfranchised a large swath of people from direct creative and financial
> participation in the web is not the corporation's problem. In fact it was a
> solution to their problem, which is how to make more money. Their solution
> was to regulate it in such a way that only themselves, the experts, could
> have control.
> I suggest this could happen again with web payments -- which may be even
> more of an opportunity than HTML5 was, for many things.
> Yet, other things will come down the pipe unexpectedly -- like the web did.
> Bitcoin, and CCN (content centered networking), and other forms of
> distributed processing might upstage any attempts by corporations to accrue
> all money and power to themselves. But IMO a hope that running it through
> the W3C process will avoid that happening is not learning from history.
> Perhaps it's possible, but I expect it will be an intense struggle. The
> banks, Visa, Mastercard, Google, Apple -- all will do their best to
> appropriate all the nuts and bolts work that is offered and turn it into
> something that will benefit themselves. Some of the people in the
> corporations may be happy to see others outside their own company benefit as
> well, but that will be a hobby, a sideline -- if it conflicts with their
> company activity it will be co-opted, avoided, or destroyed.
> I believe this entire discussion has its foundation on a major consciousness
> change, global, about the Growth Model versus the limits to the carrying
> capacity of the Earth: those two are now in direct conflict. The
> corporations are using Growth Model capitalism. Many believe that model is
> up against the limits of Earth's carrying capacity and resources, and that
> the latter will necessarily win, it's just a matter of how long and by what
> mechanism.
> If this is true (and many books have been written about this; favorites of
> mine are "Reinventing Collapse" and "The Five Stages of Collapse" by Orlov,
> who has the advantage of being funny), then there really is little point in
> getting directly involved in such a struggle, since eventually the
> corporations' model will lose anyway. No use wearing ourselves out trying to
> defeat them with a blunt sword.
> Might as well spend the time getting to know the people at the farmer's
> market. According to Orlov, those are the people we'll need to be on good
> terms with when it all goes down.
> :-)
> Steven Rowat
> As

Joseph Potvin
Operations Manager | Gestionnaire des opérations
The Opman Company | La compagnie Opman
Mobile: 819-593-5983
LinkedIn (Google short URL): http://goo.gl/Ssp56
Received on Tuesday, 8 April 2014 18:22:06 UTC

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