This was posted earlier in a different list (memetics) as *humour*. I fixed the 97 spelling errors in the original, though it was sufficiently well received to provide the confidence to take the piece a bit further. So here I'm presenting it as both "HUMOUR: Memetics out of Control" and "ECON: Are we ready for hyper-economy?". I'm a new poster, hence the introductory stuff.
It could also been seen as a "what if?" scenario to force some consideration of what one would if (or when) an entity, the rapildy figures out how to go hyper-economic. It is not difficult for me to imagine a new future where bored billionnaires actually buy a space ship and head off the Mars to lay claim to it. Who will be the neo-Luddites then? It is not hard to imagine the flood of posts to this list, calling on the Them and They to fix the problem.
The scenerio below is, of course, entirely fictional, so anal retentive dissections of each sentence are a waste of words. FWIW I invent & develop software products to scratch out a living. I don't work for Microsoft or own any Microsoft stock, though like any sane software/knowledge age entrepreneur, I'd gladly take their stock in return for giving them my products.
How would we cope with some entity going hyper-economic? <in the next few years>
At the stroke before noon, April 1st 1999, Microsoft Corporation fully intends to have the last laugh of the century. Literally. At the press of an email Send button, Microsoft will instantly and electronically fragment into hundreds of product oriented companies, and immediately publicly list *all* of them simultaneously on *all* electronic stock exchanges. Day traders will be given *free* (local call rates do apply) "Microsoft Trader" software to assist them in drumming up the price with automatic trades. Wizards are available to those new to the process. Free $1000 trade-fee discount coupons will also be provided, the first 100 trades being totally *free* (though ad supported).
Co-branding opportunities with Schwab and e*trade will of course be exploited ensuring that other suckers foot the cash outlay bill. To prevent the Internet from grinding to a halt at the moment of climax, traders eager to make a killing real quick can order time activated CD-ROM's that will give them a time advantage over later purchasers. Downloaders won't stand a chance. The CD-ROM is immediately available from every chain store in existence for only $9.95. Wal-Mart, who paid the most, are selling special edition copies with a full 3 second advantage over competing retailers. A 3-for-1 stock split is expected to be announced for most entities by mid-afternoon.
Companies will trade as, for example, Microsoft SQL Server Inc.,
Windows3.1 Inc., Windows95 Inc., Windows95a Inc. The FUD office bundles,
having effectively beaten the daylights out of everyone already, will be
*unbundled*, there will be no Microsoft Office, only Microsoft Word Inc.
Microsoft Interactive Barney Inc. is expected to be a huge hit amongst the younger day traders as is the company that sells that weird kid's mouse thing. Empower the consumer! We all know what the Jesuits says about kids up to the age of 7. The $12b (or so .. give a take a few billion) cash stash currently in the bank will be divided fairly amongst the few hundred clones to spend on "stuff". In the interest of personal health and safety, a limit has been set on the number of Jolt that can be purchased per day. All spun-off companies will receive copies of all source-code. Specially developed automated negotiation systems have been developed to ensure smooth trading transactions between the hundred companies. Access to the code-sharing service is being offered to the Open/Free Source community for only $1,000 subscription per annum, or $10,000 if you want it all on CD-ROM. Documentation and support is a little extra. SQ., please ask your "server" for assistance.
At least for the foreseeable future, all teams will remain in their current geographic domains, Bill Gates, the generous philanthropist that he is, has purchased the Redmond campus for an undisclosed cash amount and donated it, appropriately, to the Gates Learning Foundation. Companies have reportedly already signed lease and maintenance agreements to minimise the potential disruption.
In an effort to keep those consumers most carpetbagged by the proceedings of April 1st happy, and grinning from ear-to-ear with all sorts of free stuff, Windows2000 beta SP-2a Inc. will publicly list on the 2nd of April. The first 10m downloaders of the 163Mb install package will receive a free share in the company, and a special discount on a hamper of Microsoft goodies, otherwise available only through the official Microsoft store in Redmond. "Microsoft Trader" is expected to be bundled with the product, all company clones reserving the right to bundle whatever innovations they want and can get their hands on for a fair price, usually nothing in this marketplace.
What happens to Bill Gates? Well whip out your copy of Microsoft Excel and work it out. 100x3x$80B isn't too shabby for a days work these days. His is, after all, the "best job in the world". A special web site, HowRichCanBillGetonApril1st.com has been prepared to enable novice "knowledge age" punters place bets on various guesst submissions. It is reported, that having finally completed his work at http://www.microsoft.com (has anyone checked to see if they're all still all in Redmond or whether they've perhaps leased an otherwise mothballed US Carrier Group and taken a very slow boat to China?) Bill Gates intends to pursue various personal hobbies. One new found passion is mass producing space satellites, picked up from buddy and co-founder of Teledesic, Craig McCaw. A 4,000 satellite launch to secure mining rights on asteroids is not out of the question when you have $1T to spend. The slogan for the vision is "A Portal into every Asteroid".
Great software is all in the mind.
[Durban, South Africa]