Economic Force: Free Flow of Information

How Information Flow is Shaping the Economic Landscape

The Internet has radically changed the availability and cost of information. The Internet isn’t just moving advanced technology across town, or across the nation. It’s moving it from one nation to another, from areas of high concentration of technology to areas of low concentration. It is leveling the playing field.

This revolution of information access is at least as important as the other major revolutions, such as the Industrial Revolution of the late 19th century.  The graph below shows the exponential growth in access to information via the Internet:

17.GIF

It’s an Economic Earthquake

Free flow information isn’t simply a technological change. It represents a fundamental and massive economic force. The economy cannot remain static in the presence of such a powerful shift.  The strategies that will work in tomorrow’s economy must take this revolution into account.  They must recognize the effects and harness the power of this force in order to be successful.

What is the economic impact of free flow of information?  How does it affect today’s business climate?  How does it affect your job? What should be our national policy on information flow in the years ahead? Let’s explore these questions in detail.

The Economic Impact of Free Flowing Information

Let’s examine how the flows of information have changed in the past 15 years. Think of outsourced software development, and global supply-chain management, and online patent databases, open-source software projects, and Wikipedia. Think about AliBaba, the web-based global marketplace for manufactured items. Everyone has nearly equal access to the latest technological information, regardless of which society created that knowledge. This has produced a sudden and accelerating shift in the relative capabilities of whole nations, and has moved entire economies away from certain kinds of economic activity and toward others.  Manufacturing has moved to emerging economies.  Technical skill has followed via the outsourcing boom.  If manufacturing know-how and technical know-how has flowed around the world, can other forms of know-how be far behind?

In addition to changing the worldwide competitive-advantage landscape, the Internet has clearly transformed many areas of our society, such as media, entertainment, commerce, and the retail shopping experience.  The presence of a mechanism to quickly comparison shop prices and get the lowest one, or even to conduct online auctions has meant a huge shift toward online shopping, at the expense of local retailers and, of course, jobs.  But the elimination of retail and other service sector jobs has not been the only result of the internet explosion.  The internet has also had a fundamental impact on other forms of employment as well.

Leveling World Wage-Rates

Most studies place the percentage of workers that are classified as knowledge workers anywhere from 30-50% of the workforce in the most service-oriented economies, such as the UK and US economy.  A knowledge worker is one whose contributions depend on the development and synthesis of ideas.  While knowledge work has expanded and is expected continue expanding, knowledge workers in the developed world are facing fierce price competition from the places where the information is now more freely flowing.  This isn’t your ordinary price competition, though. A software engineer’s salary in an emerging market can be 10% of the salary in a developed country.  In other words, an engineer in India may make $7,000, while his U.S. counterpart expects to make $70,000.  In a globalized economy, who will win this price war?

Opening the Floodgates – Open versus Closed Intellectual Property (IP)

On a recent trip to an aerospace museum in Tucson, Arizona, I was standing in front of a Kaman HOK-1 Twin Rotor helicopter when I met a man with an interesting story to tell. As I studied the design of the helicopter and commented on it, the retired engineer standing next to me told me what really impressed him about Kaman.  It wasn’t their helicopters, it was their bearings.  He told me the story of his days designing landing gear for companies such as Boeing, and how no company could match the Kaman self-lubricating bearing products.  Nobody knew what was inside, and for the longest time, Kaman would not even file a patent on their technology, because that would mean they would have to disclose how they did it.  Kaman shut others out of their market for years and successfully deployed their bearings on many aircraft platforms. (http://www.kaman.com/history/history_p.html)  Kaman’s approach to information flow was simple – trust no one because then no one can duplicate what you do.

In today’s economic landscape, Kaman’s approach to IP protection and business building is a relic from the past.  Today’s corporate strategy is usually built around a different set of criteria.  Instead of building basic technology and creating a product line around it, today’s corporations add value to technology they buy.  They may develop a market by integrating hardware, and software and meeting an end user need.  Instead of technology differentiation, what is more important is time-to-market, head-to-head price competition, and being in the right place at the right time.   What becomes deemphasized is the traditional model of building a product line from company owned technology and owning the market because your engineering and know-how is fundamentally just better.  One clear culprit in this changing landscape is the free flow of information.

Open development. Open Source. Open Access. Open Architecture. Open Standards.  The Open movement has elicited fundamental changes in the way information is shared, especially in the technology industry. The growth of open source software projects, for instance, has been exponential in the past decade.  What is interesting is to compare the graph below to the growth of the internet.  Clearly, the more information flows, the more collaboration between people occurs.  This is very evident in the open source world.

18.GIF

Source: The Total Growth of Open Source Amit Deshpande and Dirk Riehle Proceedings of the Fourth Conference on Open Source Systems (OSS 2008). Springer Verlag, 2008. Page 197-209.

While it can be difficult to assess the impact of open source on, say, overall software employment levels in the US, it suffices to point out that, overall, open source tends to move the software talent pool away from fundamental technology development and toward a value-add support model instead.

While the software industry has been significantly impacted by the free-flow of information, the domain of computer circuit design has proven much more resistant to this free information flow.  So called IP cores (blocks of hardware logic) have been a fixture of the hardware design industry for some time, they are much harder to use in an open development process.  In the hardware arena, the notion of selling IP (in the form of IP cores, Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) and silicon chips) is much more developed.  A well known example of IP reuse illustrates this point.  Consider the the graphics engine first introduced to the world via the Sega Dreamcast.

Sega’s Dreamcast game console has been called many things, but a roaring commercial success is not among the terms commonly used.  However, the PowerVR 3D graphics engine found in the Dreamcast has had an illustrious history. Eventually taken over by silicon IP vendor Imagination Technologies, the PowerVR IP now powers most mobile 3D applications on cellular phones, including Apple’s phenomenally successful iPhone.  In this case, the same IP resulted in two very divergent commercial products, but the technology’s creators were able to retain control, and benefited from the investment in basic technology that they created.

Whether for hardware or software, openness is here to stay.  Are business models that stress value add, support, agile development, time to market, and customization the wave of the future?  Will we lose our capacity for innovative development in basic technology because no one wants to risk capital developing a technology that everyone can use for free?  The mechanisms by which innovation is grown, nurtured, and eventually turned into commercial success are key to tomorrow’s economy.  How should we prepare ourselves to compete in a world where everyone’s got equal access to information?

Innovation – Relic of a By-Gone Era?

Not long ago, I had lunch with the CEO of the company where I work.  He’s in regular contact with the venture capital (VC) community, and during our conversation the subject turned to the current climate for VCs in Silicon Valley.  The picture he painted was pretty dark.  “Nobody is investing in tech right now. They are all in safe investments with known returns, such as real-estate”.  His message was clear – we better be prepared to live – and innovate- off of operating revenues if we were to survive.  Funds to grow and innovate were going to be scarce for quite some time.

Venture capital is not the only means by which innovation occurs in advanced economy.  Innovation has always been what drives advanced economies such as the US forward.  On a recent visit to China, I had this pointed out to me.  The Chinese, it seems, have a view of America that many Americans themselves no longer seem to believe in. They see America as a shining city on the hill – of technology and innovation. A conversation with my Chinese host was eye-opening. “We need to work with Americans to get the high tech. We are not so strong in this”, she said. “In China, we have many engineers, but not so many who now how to build the whole system, to design it”.

So, if innovation is the basis of advanced economies strength, but innovation funding is being cut in a risk averse capital environment, where will futire innovation come from especially in the era of free-flow of information?  There is no easy answers, but there are some helpful ideas. There are other avenues for innovation funding to take place, such as the U.S. Governments Small Business Innovative Research (or SBIR) program, whereby the U.S. Government conducts targeted research via small businesses to help it solve problems in many areas, especially military technology, and supports commercialization of the developed technology. But relying on government will not be enough.  Instead, the new global economy needs a bottom-up approach to nurturing innovation and creating viable businesses incorporating it.

Bottom-Up Transformation and the Information-Enabled Globe

Clearly, we need to adjust to new economic reality.  Forces such as the free flow of information are fundamentally changing the economic landscape in ways we are only beginning to understand.  The current top-down mechanisms being tried by governments and central banks to restore the economy of yesterday cannot address the long term changes being wrought by these underlying economic forces.  Advanced economies are being hollowed out.  Their capacity for leadership and growth is being whittled away, while too much treasure, too many resources, and valuable brainpower is being allocated to areas of the economy that may be prifitable but do not further the collective good.  The global challenges are great.  We can no longer afford to let the situation deteriorate.  We need to somehow turn the tables – to harness free flow of information to remake the economy of tomorrow.  It will take a bottom-up approach and free-flow of information can be an ally in this endeavor.

How do we do that? We get everyone involved in innovation. We use that free flow of information to equip ourselves to innovate and especially to collaborate. We take innovation to the next level, and we apply it to world-wide problems.

Raising the Level of the Level

Free flow of information is the great income leveller.  But it does not have to mean we all are dragged down.  Freely flowing information could and should function as an upward leveller.  As more knowledge is distributed to more places, the information will begin to elevate areas of the world where future demand must come from. Information can expand knowledge to allow more minds to meet the challenges we all globally face.  What must we do?  We must learn to better collaborate and exchange information with real problems in mind.  Rather than building hundreds of businesses whose goal is to make a cheaper cell phone or different ways to loan money, how about hundreds of businesses whose goal is to make smarter use of agricultural resources?  How about smart technology for tomorrow’s farms, or tomorrow’s energy grid?  How about low-cost delivery of medical information, in the language it is needed, at the right level, where is it needed?  All of these things can be beneficiaries of free flow of information, if we only put it to good use.  This is how this massive economic force, the free-flow of information, can be used to create a better world.

This is the first article in the BrainTrust’s “Top 10 Economic Forces” series. The goal of this series is to develop a widely-held consensus about what the major forces are that are moving the world economy. These articles are collaboratively written by the members of the BrainTrust@RealEconomy.Org


Originally published at the RealEconomy.Org blog and reproduced here with the author’s permission.

35 Responses to "Economic Force: Free Flow of Information"

  1. PeterJB   April 9, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Excellent paper: my compliments to the team/Your paper trends to agree with that which I interpret from Buckminster Fuller’s “ephemeralization” or, in my words, a much larger part of the population across all demographics, become SME centers, individually and smaller. This is possible now due to the Large Numbers – in terms of population.I don’t agree with those that cry for a human cull due to a strain on available resources due to the fact that their murderous fests are founded in pure ignorance that does not take the Theory of Numbers into account; simple as that.Other ephemeralization quants, quints and quirks should be a blanket of small banks (desks) at street level keeping, a priori, the energies – synergies, of society flowing horizontally that is to say, real infrastructural plumbing where everyone has access to contribute to, that is to say build upon, and draw from the socio-economic fabric. Small government and small scientific centers of science across the full spectrum of physics which a priori, includes the social sciences and the humanities – well overdue I might add. On top of this will sit the philosophies – everything horizontal and no hierarchical (priestly) structuring a priori.Full access, full accountability and full freedom in terms of “Minding your own business and keeping your hands out of other peoples pockets”.This system which is building but I don’t yet see the trend – as most governmental cliques and cults fear such activities will be indeed borne out of the Internet and this Internet Infrastructure MUST, a priori, built to accommodate and within aforesaid principles, must be built immediately pervasively around the World – as private investments, together with high speed rail.Now the main arguments against infrastructural spending is that such infrastructures are high cost dead end run essentially governments and bureaucracy (ugh)and if so, then this argument is correct and valid. But, if my definition of infrastructure is correct, instead, that is to say, the skeletal structure is funded from low cost government funding (taxation) and the rights to build upon, enjoy, extend, are open to all comers, the smaller the better, in Open Source philosophy, then we already casting our spears into the future so unimaginable and so magnificently interesting and exciting, then good times are to be had by the many.The problem lies with just how to get the dinosaurs of the political and banking classes out of our face so we can get on with it. There can be no doubt that money will invest as that is what money does – we must leave the human spirit free to excel, but with integrity and courage, or that is to say, without vile corruption, lies, and theft. Of course, I am no idealist, such things are innate to the human condition but if we recognize these traits, they can be minimized.The current global crisis is of “leadership”, no more, no less and we should / will take advantage, nay, opportunity, to rid ourselves of this parasitical system that breed feral and such like through corruptive agents of the human nature, and begin to look towards the future and stop brooding over the past, as it is done!It is an honour to be your first contributor or amongst the first.Ho hum

  2. ex VRWC   April 9, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    Thank you for the kind words. Whether the people in the way get out of the way or not will become less and less relevant insofar as we check out of the systems they have built to keep themselves wnriched and in power. Ours is to figure out how, in real ways to accomplish this checking out. This is one goal of massive collaboration.Mark Snyder aka ex VRWC

  3. OuterBeltway   April 9, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    There are many, many very smart and motivated people here at RGE.The BrainTrust is a tool to concentrate, focus, and EXPRESS that brilliance against a carefully selected set of problems, the solutions to which are strategic to the public, and are made available to the public in real-time.Mark Snyder is an example of the kind of people we’re recruiting. There’s a place for you, too.What do you think are the top ten forces moving the world economy?Tell us, help us write about them, help us get the word out. The better we do this job, the easier it is for everyone to set course for a prosperous tomorrow.BrainTrust Means Massive Collaboration.

    • Jason B   April 10, 2009 at 5:41 am

      I visited your website to sign up, but couldn’t find a contact,OB. How can I contribute?

      • OuterBeltway   April 10, 2009 at 8:57 am

        pls e-mail us at braintrust at realeconomy.org.Jason B, you are exactly what we’re after, we’re delighted to have people like you on the team.We’ll have a formal signup subsystem implemented in the next week or two; for now please just do the e-mail thing and we’ll respond with written materials and so forth so you can start up the learning curve, and hit the ground running when the create-new-account facility is complete.

  4. did you see the transparent fish head? how cool is that!   April 9, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    ms,is so sweet i could weep.enjoy the powers of communication, relationshipand creativity. the heart of it and beyond!

  5. did you see the transparent fish head? how cool is that!   April 9, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    ms,is so sweet i could weep.enjoy the powers of communication, relationshipand creativity. the heart of it and beyond!

  6. Hayes   April 9, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    a great read – congrats to the BT for their efforts and the author(s) for an argument that is presented with clarity and insight.Having said that there seems to be an embedded optimism in the article (nothing wrong with that): “Raising the Level of the Level” – at first blush that seems to be taken from a page of the “why globalization is good” handbook (said with sarcasm).”Rather than building hundreds of businesses whose goal is to make a cheaper cell phone or different ways to loan money, how about hundreds of businesses whose goal is to make smarter use of agricultural resources? …”That is a wonderful sentiment; there are many examples of initiatives whose goals are equally altruistic / opportunistic (in a good way) – e.g. the micro-finance movement (Muhammad Yunnus). Other examples include the organization led by the Aga Khan (http://www.akdn.org/) and numerous other NGOs – perhaps even the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation (only maybe).I may be just too cynical but as I watch the goings on in the current economic crisis (and the world at large), the blatant exploitation by the PTP cause me to be less than optimistic. History shows that human nature left to its own devices results in the world we currently live in. Free flow of information notwithstanding I fear/know that flow of information will ultimately be exploited by the PTB and used for their own (evil) purposes.

    • Free Tibet   April 10, 2009 at 6:38 am

      “…seems to be taken from a page of the “why globalization is good” handbook”.Globalization is. That’s all. It is. It’s part of our world going forward. We don’t live in a vacuum and the other 4/5 of humanity has as much right to the earth as we do. There are benefits to a globalized world. And there are challenges raised by its prospect. There will be resistance to change especially form TPTB who have reached the “top” via the present, now archaic, regime. Don’t expect change from the top.ex VRWC stated the issue pretty clearly, “the new global economy needs a bottom-up approach to nurturing innovation and creating viable businesses incorporating it.”

  7. hazleton   April 9, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Free flow of information is being seriously challenged by Goldman Sachs. Lawsuit threatened by them against Mike Morgan.http://realestateandhousing2.blogspot.com/2009/04/goldman-sachs-v-mike-morgan.htmlBe afraid. Be very afraid.

    • Raven   April 10, 2009 at 1:57 pm

      “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”Not really. Fear works merely to obfuscate our thinking and our view. How about, very informed and forewarned. To be forewarned is to be fore-armed. Thanks to all of you brilliant posters, I feel like we are all becoming informed. We need to become very well informed. Only then can we understand the forces at play and work accordingly.Count me inCount me in.

      • ex VRWC   April 11, 2009 at 12:26 pm

        Thanks Raven we do.

  8. OuterBeltway   April 9, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    Hayes:That right there is probably the single best reason for us to collaborate. Free flow is going to happen, and we’re either going to drive it or be driven by it.I prefer to drive. What about you?The BT is not a bunch of starry-eyed KumBaYahs. We understand battlefield tactics, and we expect to win.Massive Collaboration.

  9. OuterBeltway   April 9, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    Hayes, I’m glad you raised the point about “raising the level”, and how that sounds a little naive. I say it’s pretty much of an imperative.We Americans have a pretty stark choice facing us. The playing field is leveling at an astounding pace. We either:1. Watch as our income falls to the lowest common denominator, or2. We find a way to establish and protect a competitive advantage, or3. We bring up the level of the “common denominator”.It’s either option one, two, three or “all of the above”. Can you think of another option? There is another one, and that’s War. Are you up for that?Therefore, we better get about the process of getting very good at option two and three, or we’re going to be a lot less well-off.The last 25 years were an exercise in delaying and hiding from the inevitable. It has arrived. Some of us are going to cope, and some of us are going to be “driven”.Like I said, I prefer to drive.

  10. ptm   April 9, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    Even though the idea of information sharing through the Internet is powerful, but it must be tempered with entrenched corporate interests that restrict information flow through strengthen patent and copyright laws, cross corporate agreements, as well as developing case-precedent through ligation.Nevertheless, as a long time advocate of open source in software development I applaud your insight into a business proposition that eludes the vast majority of the business community. For me the key value of an open source proposition is the value of long-term versus short-term gains; unfortunately typical business arrangements value the exact opposite, especially as the size of an organization grows.If you do not mind, I have a nit to pick. I understand the power of collaborative open source projects, but the open-source-projects curve-fit graph that was chosen boarders on deceptive. A more accurate curve-fit of the data would begin exponential, plateau, and then decay! Besides, the number of open source projects is not really a helpful metric. Sourceforge (http://sourceforge.net/), for example, has hundreds of thousands of projects, but only a minor fraction create a following and prosper.The reason open source projects are a long-term win is because they create value through minimal maintenance, ease of system integration and modification, and module re-use in redesign. In the case of software quality it is noted that “with many eyes, all bugs are shallow” and “it takes many hands to feel and identify the elephant in a dark room.” For a clever example see: “Confessions of a Recovering Proprietary Programmer” (http://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/people/paulmck/Confessions/) to see how it took a community of programmers to “feel out” the Read-Copy-Update (RCU) algorithm that no single individual could have arrived at.To summarize, many companies are built on a three-legged business model: sell proprietary hardware (e.g., HP) sell proprietary software (e.g., Microsoft) and sell services (e.g., IBM). What you are saying in these terms is that the Internet has lopped off two of the three business-model legs and many businesses do not even realize it. The key to future business success is service and it’s really hard to build a monopoly on service.

    • OuterBeltway   April 10, 2009 at 6:15 am

      PTM:Good points. The diagram isn’t deceptive, and you actually said so yourself. “A more accurate curve-fit of the data would begin exponential, plateau, and then decay!”. In 50 years, that’s what the plot will look like. Today, it’s an exponential curve upward. The graph is accurate.Next, you said “[open source]…has hundreds of thousands of projects, but only a minor fraction create a following and prosper.”. That statement is true of any class of enterprise I can think of. Marriages, businesses, baseball teams, life forms.Collaboration is about increasing our chances of success. We are not going to stamp out ignorance and incompetence, we are simply going to do a better job of neuron-connecting for those that are ready-willing-and-able.Your point about the collaboration being able to “spot the bug” better than any single individual is absolutely right. Not only can the collaboration spot the bug (that’s “tactical”), it can define the elephant in the dark room (excellent expression) way faster than the single individual (and that’s “strategic”). And the economy – as complex and mis-defined and crucial as it is – represents a highly worthwhile application of the “many hands” method.One of the quotes we like at RealEconomy.Org is “I hear the sound of thousands of business models crumbling”. Mark Snyder’s article tells why the West’s business models are falling like ten-pins. And his article is only the first in the series.So how will the West defend it’s rapidly-diminishing competitive advantage? To what degree will we restrict the flow of information in order to preserve our standard of living? This is the stuff the BrainTrust debates and writes about, and soon we’ll turn our attention to acting on what we learn.PTM, you are the kind of thinker we’re after, like so many others here at RGE. Let’s take this discussion to the next level, and start making decisions about what we’re going to do.

  11. ex VRWC   April 9, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    Great debate all. It is not my intent to open up a debate about the merits of open source. There is ample debate out there on this issue. the issue, as ptm points out, is the business model changes, which are radical and must be understood. And they are fundamental. So long as we are afforded the Realeconomy and the RGE platforms, we will attempt to explore these in some detail. These issues are worth exploration, certainly at least to the level we explore the current economic convulsions of banks, markets, etc. It is because we are exploring the source forces, while much of the debate is in fact exploring effects of these forces, not causes.Mark Snyder aka ex VRWC

  12. P1AQL   April 10, 2009 at 5:05 am

    I think the world is heading towards an apprenticeship trained micro specialization skill set based professional who loves what he or she does and can do it 24×7.For example, the CEO relies on his or her SVP for information, but a minion knowledge worker might get even more accurate BI information from the company data-warehouse using SQL and MS-Excel skills thereby rendering redundant all vertical human hierarchies such as corporations.As Warren Buffett might say, the Ovarian Lottery is over-rated. And as Bill Gates said, the collapse of information asymmetry means that you’ed rather be born in Vietnam with an IQ of 160 than be born in Switzerland with an IQ of 100. To fight against the disadvantage of a low endowment in IQ, you will have to work hard. However, you have to find work that is energizing and not tiring; when you have ‘worked’ 18 hours, you will find even more pleasure in the 19th hour. And nobody will be able to compete with you. Therefore, make sure your child is racing to find out what he or she truly likes: music? arts? writing? science? math? sports?. Work that is a hobby, work that is passion, work that is love, i.e. work that is orgasmicThere is nothing new about the New Economy v.2There is no substitute for Hard Think and Hard WorkBest,P1AQL

  13. MM CA   April 10, 2009 at 7:46 am

    Good Stuff- Well written…

  14. Hayes   April 10, 2009 at 9:10 am

    When I have some time I’ll provide some thoughts on the ‘drive’ vs. ‘driven’ notion mentioned above. In the meantime these are a couple of links that appear to intersect with the BT initiative – the second being very very interesting and perhaps a good resource.1) The widely adopted (by many NGOs and para religious organizations) Millennium Development Goals (http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/)2) The Citizen Lab (Munk Centre for International Studies, U of Toronto – http://www.citizenlab.org/) “Citizen Lab’s ongoing research network includes the Information Warfare Monitor and the OpenNet Initiative, ONI Asia, and benefits from collaborative partnerships with academic institutions, NGOs, and other partners in all regions of the world.” lots of great info and links.

    • OB   April 10, 2009 at 10:28 am

      Tks Hayes. Looking forward to more input from you.

  15. wethepeople   April 10, 2009 at 9:11 am

    A most intriguing and benevolent platform. Altruism is noble. I will ponder and would also like to submit content for your consideration as you go forward. The most powerful word you chose to use is your first…”Free”. Upon this premise of Freedom…a mighty movement can take hold. You have begun heroically. Please don’t foresake this crucial tenent.In my struggle to understand complex, illogical systems like markets and economies etc. It helps me to examine the reciprocal forces and influences to eliminate the antithetical issues.I would submit to the group to also think in terms of: The top 10 forces ‘impeding’ the world economy. By identifying those, a clearer top 10 forces affecting (presumably for good) will emerge. You can define what it is, by defining what it is not.I also have to suppose that your top 10 are ‘aspirations for the advancement’ of the world economy as a whole. A distinction in reality must be made here, that just because a current force is formidable (in the top 10) does not make it postively accretive (i.e. global militarism is possibly a top 10 force, but is it good?) (or the militarisation of space?, giving more control to central bankers? controlling or hoarding technology like patents for genome sequences in relation to health and food?, etc.)Freedom goes a long way and touches corners of our philosophies and biases that I am sure you will enjoy debating. What is freedom truly? Is it the same for every living being? Should it be?All the best.

    • OB   April 10, 2009 at 10:46 am

      WeThePeople:That’s a great post. Speaking for myself, I had not thought much about characterizing the forces as “impeding” so much as depicting the interplay. Some forces oppose others – hence our desire to build a “weather map” that shows the “fronts” interacting. An economy is a very dynamic place, but I hope to abstract out a lot of the complexity. Even complex systems, such as the weather, are primarily moved by a few uber-forces – the sun, the delta in cooling rates between water-mass and land-mass, and the direction of rotation of the earth…and of course, the water-cycle, which is driven by the sun.About freedom: freedom in today’s world is largely influenced by access to information. Not data, but information. Please see our website (www.realeconomy.org) for a discussion along those lines, and do join in. You have some very useful perspectives.

      • wethepeople   April 10, 2009 at 10:25 pm

        OB you’re an inspiration. The highest complement. I am just saying freedom is relative unfortunately to many if not all people. I think the ultimate litmus test just as our forefathers was is, not to be too mellow dramatic… but are you willing to die for the freedom of speech? think about it…if someone where to tell you you cant say that.. would you be wiling to give or risk your life to say it… to speak out…would you? that is freedom… life or death… to say what you want any time, any where…. That is worth fighting and dying for…

        • OuterBeltway   April 10, 2009 at 11:23 pm

          WeThePeople: If you are asking me if I am ready to die on behalf of my people, the answer is yes. Any soldier, any doctor, any parent, or any policeman makes that pledge.I’d be a lame sort of human being if I weren’t ready to sacrifice for my people. Stated another way, I’d be worthy of the people on my team if I was.I aspire to be as good a person as are already among us. I have to run to catch up.

          • wethepeople   April 13, 2009 at 1:56 pm

            Good video from Perkins in Iceland on the web. He wrote Confessions of an Ecnomic Hit Man. He describes being bribed and he and his family’s lives threatened. He held off for a time, but he later went to ground zero in NYC after 9/11 and decided to write the book anyway. I guess that is an example of what I was trying to convey. Even the signers of the Declaration of Independence risked it all. It appears for those will to speak the truth and put it all on the line, when they do it and get to the other side it can be very bright and fulfilling. I hope your endeavor will be at least half as fulfilling

  16. ptm   April 10, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    This is something you may have to consider in you future plans: a war-torn, untrustworthy Internet!SRI Malware Threat Center reports.http://mtc.sri.com/Conficker/http://mtc.sri.com/Conficker/addendumC/Excerpts -… [Conficker version] C is, in fact, a robust and securedistribution utility for distributing malicious [or any type of] content and binaries to tens of millions of computers across the Internet. This utility incorporates a potent arsenal of methods to defend itself from security products, updates, and diagnosis tools. It further demonstrates the rapid development pace at which Conficker’s authors aremaintaining their current foothold on a large number ofInternet-connected hosts. Further, if organized into acoordinated offensive weapon, this multimillion-node botnetposes a serious and dire threat to the Internet…. [Conficker version] C now selects its rendezvous pointsfrom a pool of over 50,000 randomly generated domain namecandidates each day. [Conficker version] C further increasesConficker’s top-level domain (TLD) spread from five TLDs inConficker A, to eight TLDs in B, to 110 TLDs that must nowbe involved in coordination efforts to track and block C’spotential DNS queries.Total hosts infected with Conflicker A & B as of 19-Mar-09:10,512,451In the last few months this worm has relentlessly pushed allother infection agents out of the way, as Conflicker A & Bhas infiltrated nearly every Windows 2K and XP honeypot thatwe have placed out on the Internet…. regions with dense Conflicker A & B populations alsoappear to correspond to areas where the use of unregistered(pirated) Windows releases are widespread, and the regularapplication of available security patches are rare…. on 27 December 2008 we stumbled upon two highlysuspicious connection attempts that might link us to themalware authors. Connection 1: 81.23.XX.XX – Kyivstar.net,Kiev, Ukraine and connection 2: 200.68.XX.XXX -Alternativagratis.com, Buenos Aires, Argentina… we must also acknowledge the multiple skill sets thatare revealed within the evolving design and implementationof Conficker. Those responsible for this outbreak havedemonstrated Internet-wide programming skills, advancedcryptographic skills, custom dual-layer code packing andcode obfuscation skills, and in-depth knowledge of Windowsinternals and security products. They are among the firstto introduce the Internet rendezvous point scheme, and havenow integrated a sophisticated P2P protocol that does notrequire an embedded peer list. They have continually seededthe Internet with new MD5 variants, and have adapted theircode base to address the latest attempts to thwartConficker. They have infiltrated government sites,military networks, home PCs, critical infrastructure, smallnetworks, and universities, around the world. Perhaps aneven greater threat than what they have done so far, is whatthey have learned and what they will build next.========Conficker Eye ChartAll six images displayed = Normal/Not Infected by Conficker(or using proxy)Security/AV logos not displayed = Possibly Infected byConficker (C variant or greater)Some security/AV logos not displayed = Possibly Infected byConficker B variantLower images don’t appear (Tux, blowfish, devil)=1. Image loading turned off in browser?2. Verification images most likely being DDoSed(attacked by thousands of machines around the globe)The important part is the top images — do you see them?Any other combination = Poor Internet connection?http://rudd-o.com/en/linux-and-free-software/conficker-eye-chart-reloaded

    • OuterBeltway   April 10, 2009 at 4:45 pm

      PTM: Hmmm. I hate to “waste” time on security issues, but bad news gotten early is a favor. Thanks for your interest.If you have other advice/insights to share on this particular subject, pls do so offline using our team e-mail. We’d welcome your input.braintrust at realeconomy dot org.

      • ptm   April 11, 2009 at 10:56 am

        It is not a waste of your time OB, just another business opportunity.

        • OB   April 12, 2009 at 10:58 am

          Hmmm. I hadn’t looked at it in that light, PTM. Thanks for the clue. I’ll ponder that.

  17. PeterJB   April 10, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    A question of freedom; some quotations:Liberty is not for these slaves; I do not advocate inflicting it against their conscience. On the contrary, I am strongly in favor of letting them crawl and grovel all they please before whatever fraud or combination of frauds they choose to venerate…Our whole practical government is grounded in mob psychology and.. the Boobus Americanus will follow any command that promises to make him safer.” –H. L. Menchen — 1956. –=O liberty! O liberty! What crimes are committed in thy name!: Madame Jeanne-Marie Roland=The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understands the minds of other men and women… Learned Hand=He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself: Thomas Paine=Liberty is meaningless where the right to utter one’s thoughts and opinions has ceased to exist. That, of all rights, is the dread of tyrants. It is the right which they first of all strike down: Frederick Douglass=He who dares not offend cannot be honest: Thomas PaineHo hum

  18. PeterJB   April 11, 2009 at 4:00 am

    Further consideration of your first article and one of the Prime Forces in play, yet to be considered:”But it does not have to mean we all are dragged down. Freely flowing information could and should function as an upward leveler.”@ braintrust Article 1 of 10 (above)The Internet has provided as never before, to those with the ability and love of the pursuit of knowledge, and in preferred anonymity, not only that knowledge that was prior to the 1990’s + unavailable but more importantly, the opinions and remarks of those persons that consider things and matters seriously; a whole cross-section of vital and active Mind ( a verbe) consuming prior knowledge and feeding upon dynamic intellectual pursuit within the body collective or,from Thread (Copyright PeterJB):Intelligence – a self organizational universal phenomena: Interactive emergence phenomenon constrained by contextuality and structured by complicity a Universal Evolutionary Strategy.cognatus – scientia intuitiva – intellectusConsilienceWhat this means is that the human collective condition has been ‘infused’ with knowledge in exponential terms and access to the Internet and its knowledge base is creating an ‘intellectual induction’ never before experienced or considered possible in methodology (the concept or ideation is actual well known and fairly ancient) and this availability is creating, throughout this World, in those of the kind and typing that are of characteristic and nature of qualitative knowledge, knowledge creativity. This availability then, is vital and dynamic in its active states of creative complicity and the process is well known as “Consilience”.A reference I recommend as important: Consilience, by Edward O. WilsonThere are several processes that herein are important:1. The intellectual and intelligences process through cross spectrum analogy though the consideration of physical Principles ie. there is only one set of Universal Laws which effect slightly differently (in perspective) in parochial milieux,2. Osirian reductionism where physical notation is broken into smaller bits and re-organized in trials of Mind (a verbe)until the process is of comprehension, where the approach is not a priori, hierarchical,3. Gaining of the overall and comprehensive understanding of phenomenal dynamics ie, the Big Picture and core energies that supply the Causal chain of Cause and Effect, that is, the entity progress ‘measure’ between Cause and Effect,”Wisdom is one thing. It is to know the thought by which all things are steered through all things.” …Heraclitus4. Anomalous data vs. metadata. The melding of all data through the processes of qualitative consideration of anomalies within the individual specialist contextual preferences with metadata so as to build that resultant Eureka Moment,aka Consilience or Ionian Enchantment.Now considering my position here, the reader, upon which this message evokes an intellectual response, immediately understands the processes that are playing out in the fields of humanity and it is here that represents the Prime Force of a major and most significant Intellectual Jump into the 21st. Century.There are today, huge advances being made in the technology sectors and this will continue and it is most vitally important that the Internet, be upgraded to Very High Capacity Pervasive Availability in terms of Intellectual Infrastructure* (and all human activities) and become available to all man to draw from and to contribute to, freely and without Censorship. We are now dependent upon this component of technology for our very existence.It is now time that the social sciences and the humanities be brought out of Plato’s Cave and subjected to the light of essential scientific enquiry. Cellular and Molecular Biology has made many great gains in recent years to such activities whilst it is the field of economics, that represents the vital movements of energies between the human components which a priori, needs, nay demands and screams out to be, finally subjected to visual sightings and questioning though reductive causal analogies.Or, we cannot continue to be led by Neanderthals of the Clan, Cave Bear. It is time to step into the light of day.* Where infrastructure is a core structural component which permits freely the building upon and drawing from, all and any such organizations of all men in either commercial and or non-commercial activities. It is not run by monopolistic licensee’s; but is considered utility; Hands off.Ho hum

  19. ex VRWC   April 11, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    @PeterJBRevolutionary thought. Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite, the motto of the French Revolution. Freedom, equality, brotherhood. Is this what we are saying? Freedom of information, of innovation, of knowledge? The breaking of monopolies, on knowledge, money, power? Equality? Your concept of infrastructure being a utility? Pay justice as so many advocate? Fraternite. Teams. Massive collaboration. Working together.Maybe our ideas are not so new. Maybe the technology and the times are different, but maybe the fundamental ideas remain. Time to know a little history. It is something the well-rounded thinker should command.“There is nothing new under the sun” -Solomon

  20. PeterJB   April 11, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Please tell me of intellect. Tell me of consciousness, please. Tell me of knowledge, I beg you.History is a compendium of our ignorance and arrogance. Vital to know, indeed.That which is new, is today.”There is nothing new under the sun” -Solomon@ ex VRWC on 2009-04-11 12:25:06Ho hum

  21. MA   April 14, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    My apologies for missing the party!Well done.VRWC, OB, and all… thanks for doing the work that so few are willing to do.I really hope this is the start of something good!Miss America