the visible hand

it is the theory which decides what can be observed – einstein

The Economist catches the Cluetrain…

Posted by ecoshift on June 14, 2008

Here’s interesting set of articles. You may not notice on a day-to-day basis, but one of the themes of this blog is that effective cooperation and collaboration are underrepresented in policy and culture in the US — not to mention Humboldt County.

Instead we place a great deal of emphasis on competition. We believe that everyone benefits from competition – winners and losers. Once we get out of grade school (okay, kindergarten) concepts such as sharing, cooperation and empathy get shorter and shorter shrift. In short: we, as a policy making body, believe that a society run by winners is a better, stronger more advanced society than a society run by losers.

So the acceptance of collaboratively developed open-source software into the heart of our capitalist business models by major wall street firms is notable. Even Microsoft is toying with the concept.

Now, The Economist, to it’s credit, actually seems to be extending the open-source concept from software to hardware with their recent article. It’s as if they actually get the concepts behind the 1999 Cluetrain Manifesto.

Here’s the millennial quote from the Cluetrain website:

“A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter—and getting smarter faster than most companies.”

Open-source is an expression of that conversation. Here’s a few comments on it’s progress starting with The Economist’s article.

Remember open-source doesn’t eliminate competition, it just allows collaboration a role in the process:

Open-source hardware | Open sesame |
Jun 5th 2008
From The Economist print edition

Consumer devices: Revealing the underlying technical details of electronic gadgets can have many benefits, for both users and manufacturers

THE idea of “open source” software is familiar to many computer users. Enthusiasts get together on the internet to create a new program, and as well as giving it away, they also make available its source code—the software’s underlying blueprint. This allows other people to make additions and improvements, and those are made available, in turn, to anyone who is interested. You do not have to be a programmer to benefit from the open-source model: many people use the Linux operating system or Firefox web-browser, for example, both of which have been developed in this way.Now the same approach is being applied to hardware, albeit in a modified form. The open-source model cannot be directly carried over to hardware, because software can be duplicated and distributed at almost no cost, whereas physical objects cannot. Modifying source code and then distributing a new, improved version of a program is much easier than improving and sharing the design of, say, an open-source motorbike. Some day, perhaps, fabricating machines will be able to transform digital specifications (software) into physical objects (hardware), which will no doubt lead to a vibrant trade in specifications, some of which will be paid for, and some of which will be open-source.

Wall Street Embraces Linux –
Wall Street Embraces Linux
Lisa DiCarlo, 03.27.02, 10:50 AM ET

NEW YORK – Rick Carey has staked his reputation and his job on a project that he concedes is risky–but with potentially huge returns. He is the person in charge of a top-down implementation of Linux software at Merrill Lynch.Merrill is one of many Wall Street brokerages doing a large-scale Linux deployment in an effort to cut their costs and boost revenue. Indeed, these banks have had a very tough year: Merrill’s sales declined more than 10%, to $38.7 billion last year, and profits dried up to 56 cents per share, from $4.06 in 2000. The company laid off 9,000 employees last year to reduce compensation expenses.Merrill and others talked about their Linux plans at an event hosted by Red Hat Software in New York Tuesday night. Red Hat is a leading Linux distributor but is experiencing no shortage of pain itself. Sales for fiscal 2002 ended Feb. 28 fell to $86.8 million, from $103 million. Analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial are expecting the company to break even in the May and August quarters.Merrill’s plans, and others like it, are very significant because they are the first companywide–rather than departmental–Linux implementations. While not without risk, this lends an enormous amount of credence to the argument that Linux can be used in place of more established technologies like Unix.Second, it also shows that Linux does in fact threaten Unix. Sun Microsystems, the leading Unix provider, has only recently communicated what can be construed as a semi-comprehensive Linux strategy–perhaps prodded by customers like Merrill.”We are telling all of our vendors that they need to have some kind of Linux strategy,” says Carey, chief technology architect at Merrill. “We are hearing that consistently from everyone on Wall Street.”

PC World – Business Center: Microsoft Releases First Open XML SDK
Matthew Broersma,
Friday, June 13, 2008 8:30 AM PDT

Microsoft has released the first finished version of the software development kit (SDK) for the Open XML Format, the default storage format for Microsoft Office 2007 and the basis for a standard that is currently awaiting publication by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO).Open XML SDK 1.0 , available from the company’s website, is designed to allow developers to produce code enabling their applications to create, access and manipulate Open XML documents, Microsoft said.At the same time, Microsoft said last month that it will begin supporting the rival Open Document Format (ODF) in Office 2007 and Office 14, beginning with a service pack set for release in the first half of 2009.

And, while your thinking about what the implication of all this are for Humboldt County economic development and business competitiveness don’t forget to download the 3.0 version of the open-source browser Firefox on Tuesday…

Download Firefox 3.0 / Tuesday June 17th


2 Responses to “The Economist catches the Cluetrain…”

  1. dblwyo said

    Since you were kind enough to notice and post my attempt to look beneath the covers on Retail Sales it struck me that my other blog on policy and current affairs might be even more to the taste of you and your readers.

    The most recent post on the affairs blog is Crossing the Cusp Points: Politics, Policy and a Proposal: It focuses on assessing the key policy issues and realities within my limits. Much as the business/econ blog tries to do for those areas.

  2. ecoshift said


    Just read through your Crossing the Cusp Points.

    Thanks for your relatively even-handed effort to articulate the national context in which the campaigns are taking place – the actual issues we face as a nation.

    Too much text is spent on analyzing issues of style – pumping up/tearing down one candidate/party or another in an effort to avoid substance.

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