Re: NodeNets and ExI: A step back?

Max More (
Thu, 04 Jun 1998 20:51:25 -0700

At 06:52 PM 6/4/98 -0700, Paul Hughes wrote:
>Since such list will only be open to *members*, how will any of this improve
>ExI' overall reputation? A post I made awhile back suggested that rather
>require membership to read the contents of NodeNet, that a small reasonable
>subscription fee be instituted as a way of covering costs. Membership in ExI
>could then include a subscription to NodeNet as well as other perks and
>discounts on books, conferences, etc.

I really hadn't firmly decided on ExI-only access, Paul, so your suggestion
comes at a good time. It is important for us to increase the value of an
ExI membership if we want to retain and increase membership -- a goal
crucial to ExI's continued existence and functioning. I think we can
achieve that goal if we allow non-ExI members to be Observers for a fee
(invited non-member Participants would have free access), while it's free
for members. What that fee should be, I'll have to think about.

The only concern I have about this is that it requires more accounting to
keep track of who has paid for each list. I simply am *not* going to use my
time to do this! If ExI can turn over its database management to another
party, it could work. This may be a possibility, but is not the case now.
My proposal was intended as a simple way of getting the NodeNet going given
our severely limited resources. If the system is complicated and requires
volunteers to do a lot of work, it is not going to work. Allowing
non-members access for a fee does add complications, but if I can work that
out, it would certainly be preferable.

>I can't help getting the feeling though that somehow such a system will in
>short time be abused by the occasional shortcomings of the NodeMaster, where
>personal feelings, egos and the like will keep otherwise intelligent posters
>from being included.

I have no doubt that this is true. In a simple, workable initial system, I
don't see how to avoid that. It will not be perfect, but at least it will
have come into existence. If the NodeNet grows well, perhaps a more
elaborate and fault-resistant version can be installed.

Also, the intrinsic exclusivity of the NodeNet is almost
>completely retrograde to the evolution of the Net as a spontaneously ordered,
>open, agoric, free-marketplace of ideas.

I strongly disagree with this. While the Net as a whole is a spontaneous
order, it harbors within itself numerouse orders that are planned or
semi-planned. The economy as a whole is a spontaneous order (at least to a
large degree--it is possible to tinker with its constitutive legal rules),
but many companies and agencies within it have a much higher degree of
planned order. Evolution is a spontaneously ordering process, but its
products are biologically ordered systems whose structure is largely
"planned" by the genes.

Without filtering systems (many different ones), which are typically
planned orders, the broader spontaneous order would produce little or
nothing of worth. The goal for an organization like ExI is to find the
temporarily optimal balance between the two kinds of order. Letting just
anyone post in the forums will not maximize their productiveness. Letting
anyone on the Net set up *their own* forums run on a different basis, with
different moderators, *does* maxmize productiveness.

>All I can say here, is I hope such an idealistic scenario works. As Heinlien
>once said "Specialization is for insects",

Then it's a good thing that subscribers will be able to join many forums,
that many of the forums are multi-disciplinary, and that we will have two
general mailing lists in addition.

Heinlein also said: "If it can't be expressed in figures, it is not
science; it is opinion." He certainly saw a place for deliberately
structured orders as well as the free markets he favored.



Max More, Ph.D.
Updated website (Jan 98):
President, Extropy Institute:,