Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Why the internet is like war

Author:Mike Yukish
Posted:3/15/2000; 6:49:33 AM
Topic:Why the internet is like war
Msg #:15591
Prev/Next:15590 / 15592

OK, its mostly not like war, excepting in one critical, beneficial aspect. In the past, war has been the main driver of technology. the internet is the first thing to come along that can usurp that role.

This is not my idea, I got it from a talk by Bran Ferran (sp?) of Disney Inc. I've been thinking about why that is, and have come to the following conclusions. First, war drives technology because the only thing that matters is your relative position with regards to thye competitor. It does not matter how good your weapons are in an absolute sense, it only matters how much better (or worse) your weapons are with respect to The Other Guy.

Information has the same property. Its not how much you know, or how quickly you get it, its how much more or how much quicker you are relative to the other guys. Its all about the delta between you and The Other Guys.

In war, the highest form of flattery is copying. Your whizbang new weapon is only good for just a litle while, because once you use it everyone knows, and they have it too in no time at all. So you had better be cokking up the next new thing even as you are trundling out your state of the art floogalgun. In war, you can't patent a concept.

Its all about the delta, the rate of change, the lag between you and The Other Guy. You get rich by that margin, not by the absolute worth.

On the Internet, it has been similar. Apple invents/co-opts the GUI, MS follows. Insert other examples here.

A company's true worth then is not its knowledge, but its rate of knowledge generation. Its all in the delta, the derivative, the ability to develop things faster than the other guy. You develop the new concept, and you fully expect to have it copied by everyone else while you move ahead. Compaining about it is like complaining about the the left coast getting all of the sunsets (excepting Tampa Bay, FL). Besides, its a good thing.

It seems to me that this is what patents are trying to kill.

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