Re: Critical Optimism in Pessimistic Times

Warrl kyree Tale'sedrin (
Sun, 25 Jan 1998 13:18:41 +0000

From: "John Montgomery" <>
>From: "Zeke Daystrom-Plus" <>
> >Ok Extropians,
> >
> >Here is a challenge for you 'upbeat' folk.
> >
> >Imagine a near-future world where the only access on to the internet is
> >through a Microsoft owned network, computer and or service. Where the
> >bulk of the backbone is run on NT servers. Where the only browser is a
> >Microsoft one. Where most of the content is filtered through Microsoft?
> >Sound Implausible? Well, it is already happening at an unprescendented
> >rate. Why should it bother you? Because Bill Gates has shown no qualms
> >about controlling content. Why do you think he has bought up at a
> >furious rate the rights to tons of artwork, history, and images? What
> >is moticating him to do this? If itsn't to *control* then why?
> >
> >Tell me why I should have the "warm & fuzzies" about a man who seems to
> >be hell-bent on complete world domination? After all if he controls the
> >intenet he controls the future? If not, why not?
> >
> >And if we should be worries about this ominous menace, what can we as
> >critical optimist do about it?

> Bill Gates capability to rapidly monopolize the very new industry of
> computer software and internet browsers is simply symptom of a business
> man taking full advantage of a new situation and technologies.
> Government is slow to react, but has begun to see Bill Gates as a threat
> and are trying to break his monopoly. To say Mr. Gates desires to
> conquer the world is not being pessimistic but instead being highly
> paranoid. I'm sure the government has it's eyes on Bill Gates since
> there are many paranoid people in government. My question is will the
> government in it's present form be able to keep up with the Bill Gates
> of the future. As new technologies rapidly develop, can we afford to
> depend on government to restrict abuses? As technology evolves at a
> mind boggling speed, shouldn't we design a government which can keep
> pace?

At first glance it appears that software is a distinctly different
field from near-monopolies of the past. After all, Standard Oil
couldn't change the definition of petroleum.

But does that really apply?

Let's see. One company controlled about 90% of the market for
local-area networking software only a couple years ago. One company
controlled about 90% of the market for database servers at the same
time. Both these companies are in trouble today, one of them being
threatened by something that is demonstrably inferior in several
regards and cannot coexist on the same network without creating
stability or security issues and substantial additional
network-management complexity.

Apparently having a non-protected near-monopoly isn't much of a help.

Suppose some company were to bring out a well-written, relatively
bug-free, efficient shim so that Windows95 software would run on top
of Linux... put together all necessary permissions and a good,
easy-to-use installation package with Linux and their shim...
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