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RE: The Standards Manifesto

From: Joshua Allen <joshuaa@microsoft.com>
Date: Wed, 22 May 2002 16:11:27 -0700
Message-ID: <4F4182C71C1FDD4BA0937A7EB7B8B4C105534F52@red-msg-08.redmond.corp.microsoft.com>
To: "Aaron Swartz" <me@aaronsw.com>, "Tim Berners-Lee" <timbl@w3.org>
Cc: "Simon St.Laurent" <simonstl@simonstl.com>, <www-talk@w3.org>, <www-rdf-interest@w3.org>
> > (except non-profits) betray their shareholders unless they maximize
> > returns, and they can be sued for it.
> 
> Indeed, and this is why I fear anything they get involved with.

I, personally, fear anyone who claims to be motivated by altruism rather
than selfishness.  The *very* *few* human beings who truly are don't
generally run around making claims about it.  Individual and collective
selfishness is not at all incompatible with "the greater good".

On the other hand, power and influence concentrated in the hands of a
few *can* threaten "the greater good".  Luckily we have laws that make
people's selfish accrual a matter of public record.  We assume everyone
is selfish, and we try to make it hard to lie about *how* selfish.  If
anyone accrues too much, at least we know about it, and can decide
whether or not to feel threatened.

The really scary part comes when people find ways to exercise their
greed and accrue in ways that are not easily recorded objectively.  The
general pattern that makes this possible is:

a) Claim to be working for "the greater good", and thus uninterested in
accrual
b) Publicly refer to "the greater good" in a manner such that
contributions can't be measured
c) Attack anyone with measurable accrual as being against "the greater
good"
d) Accrue like crazy, using any means, and hide your accrual
e) If anyone tries to publicize your level of accrual, refer to "a", and
eliminate them

D and E become a vicious cycle, a pattern that has been repeated in
history far too many times.  All of that because people were dumb enough
to believe A and allow a system that did B.
Received on Wednesday, 22 May 2002 19:11:59 GMT

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