Open Platforms and Innovation

6a00d8345166f269e201157 I love Steven Johnson's cover story in this week's Time Magazine. I told that to the Gotham Gal last night and she said "yeah you tweeted that not once, but three times yesterday."

You'd expect a cover story about one of our portfolio companies (Twitter) which mentions our Hacking Education event would excite me. But honestly, that's not why the piece is still rumbling around my brain this morning.

It's the finish of Steven's piece where he talks about "end user innovation" that is so brilliant. He makes this "larger point about modern innovation":

When we talk about innovation and global competitiveness, we tend to
fall back on the easy metric of patents and Ph.D.s. It turns out the
U.S. share of both has been in steady decline since peaking in the
early '70s. (In 1970, more than 50% of the world's graduate degrees in
science and engineering were issued by U.S. universities.) Since the
mid-'80s, a long progression of doomsayers have warned that our
declining market share in the patents-and-Ph.D.s business augurs dark
times for American innovation. The specific threats have changed. It
was the Japanese who would destroy us in the '80s; now it's China and

But what actually happened to American innovation during that
period? We came up with America Online, Netscape, Amazon, Google,
Blogger, Wikipedia, Craigslist, TiVo, Netflix, eBay, the iPod and
iPhone, Xbox, Facebook and Twitter itself. Sure, we didn't build the
Prius or the Wii, but if you measure global innovation in terms of
actual lifestyle-changing hit products and not just grad students, the
U.S. has been lapping the field for the past 20 years.

That's the thing that gets me so excited to get up and get going every day. Technology has reached a point where anyone can get involved with innovation. Patents and degrees matter a lot less. Imagining something and then coding it up is what its all about these days.

We are engaged in what Eric von Hippel calls "end user innovation" and it is a fundamental shift in the way society innovates. The Twitter founders are a perfect example. They built a simple tool to share short messages and it has become something entirely different. As Steven says:

It's like inventing a toaster oven and then looking around a year later
and seeing that your customers have of their own accord figured out a
way to turn it into a microwave.

I'd like to do exactly that to my toaster. Since every time I write about something I want, one of you builds it, I'm expecting my microtoaster to show up sometime soon.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. csertoglu

    I fount the Time article more well written than most mainstream press coverage of new media.

    1. fredwilson

      steven is not your average journalist. he’s founded three internet companies in addition to writing some amazing books.

  2. William Mougayar

    A seminal piece, undoubtely. My favorite part was “the most fascinating thing about Twitter is not what it’s doing to us. It’s what we’re doing to it.” The more we use innnovative apps built on top of Twitter, the further away we are from Twitter- we start to forget it’s Twitter. Twitter is becoming just a utility, but a damn important one. (I expand more in the ironic part is that we can’t comment on that article right on the Time magazine link. The social conversation is happening elsewhere.’s clicks was over 10,000 about 24 hrs after its publication.

    1. fredwilson

      Wow. 10k clicks from in one day. That’s a lot

      1. William Mougayar

        Yup, it’s a good sign. According to PostRank, the half-life of a post is revealed in the first 50 minutes across social media.

    2. Prokofy

      Yes, thank God for Fred’s blog. You can’t comment on the Time piece unless you go through the cumbersome process of writing a letter to the editor, who does that anymore?

      1. fredwilson

        Nobody. Because its not public discourse. The editors decide if it get published. Open society required truly open discourse

        1. Prokofy

          Some people still do, because they get more authentication by being selected by the editors. Those selections have more accountability, frankly, that the “editors’ picks” that you now see on sites like the Times which are hugely biased by individual journalist.Actually, Fred, open society needs curation, too, to keep it open. Is an article in the New York Times by Paul Krugman with 600 comments, mainly of them aggressively conformist in agreeing with him “an open society” because it has an open deluge of comments in which most people merely serve as an echo chamber? Is open society merely a replications of followers? Remember Twitter is 10 percent content-producers for the other 90 percent non-producers, i.e. without followers, often without tweets?Or are letters more carefully culled to show some of the criticism pro and con of an idea more serving of an open society, long-term? I don’t think you should defeat the old form in favour of the new given the awful pitfalls of the new. The NYT now just closes off comments very quickly on nearly every tech story — or never opens them at all! — because the mods literally decide what lives or dies by how much time they have to perlustrate the content, and as tech articles don’t get many comments, as opposed to, say, Bob Herbert, they close off tech early to be able to free themselves to read the hundreds under Bob Herbert (as I discovered by constantly complaining to the editors that they keep closing the tech stories off after only a few comments). This entire process, which you are dubbing “open society” is in fact very much a closed society.Your blog, where comments are more or less allowed to stand, is the exception, not the norm.

          1. fredwilson

            What we need is for the community to source up the best comments. I’ve suggested to disqus that they can do more here and I think they will

          2. Prokofy

            If you look at the mechanism the NYT uses, they have both “editors’ picks” and ‘readers’ picks”. The problem is a lot of people read and simply forget to “like up” a comment. And of course they are flashmobbable. I think it’s good to have both types, readers’ and editors’.

  3. Jevon

    The idea of unexpected, or emergent, outcomes is inspiring. I think we should create things that aren’t defined by their output, but instead by the experience of using them. Twitter is an experience, and once you “feel” it, you are able to translate it to different parts of your life, and that is when the end user starts to re-define what “it” is.I think that may be why a lot of derivatives fail. They may actually have more purpose, and a more direct value proposition, but in the end they are too rigid. It is like there is some innate human desire to not only create an end-product, but to be able to create and re-create the very processes by which we get those end-products. Designing for that experience and feeling of control, whether intentional or unintentional, is powerful.

    1. lawrence coburn

      Jevon, I love this comment. Well said.

    2. fredwilson

      Yes, and the author of the time piece, steven johnson, wrote a great book called emergence that you might enjoy. He wrote it a few years back but its even more relevant today

  4. John Furrier

    This actually was a good story by MSM on this one. All very good points. I had an interesting thread the day before this on my FB page then on my blog with more ‘inside baseball’ views on what twitter is from a platform.…Initiated by a John Hagel from Edge Perspective in a recent status update on FB.Congrats Fred to you and twitter team!

  5. Vladimir Vukicevic

    Great post. It’s this kind of nearly limitless hyper-innovation that can’t be really measured with typical metrics. This kind of stuff is really inspiring.

  6. Mark Essel

    Bullseye from Steve, once we recognize as a society that great innovation isn’t correlated with graduate degrees, we can move forward in several directions.Education, requires our attention. We should also continue to empower the individual inventor, they are our greatest asset and product of our culture. While we’re at it, we can refine how we perceive social development of large scale projects. Once we can connect individual developers with a network of skilled supporting players, we may discover layers of untapped invention, only held back by self doubt.Of course we will also be responsible for refining a framework for continual feedback from working and learning. I’ll take some more time and write something a little more cogent at home

    1. ShanaC

      Education is Hard.Creating vision is hard. Teaching others how to do so, harder.Finding people who want to be part of systems to teach and be taught- the hardest. We seem to be transitioning into something different than before- a really big extension of man, to use the famous quote. And it is painful.Finding out the best ways to connect others is going to be a process. If I told you right now the number one thing I wanted to do in the next year is start an art project on Twitter based off the idea of pinging for my bachelors.How would you help people develop systems to maximally benefit what is out there- and even explore what this all means. We’ve barely touched that subject, so rapid the change.

      1. Mark Essel

        I’ll start with your last question/comment and connect it to your first one Shana (support systems and education).I will propose a base framework (in a blog post) and if mine is not good enough someone better fit could propose a better wire frame. Next big step is inspiring the social contribution of motivated, intelligent and creative folks who care to fill out the backbone infrastructure for a support system. As a resource I’d say VCs know best what entrepreneurs need most help with to hit the ground running. Let’s collectively reinvent a form of education that will serve as a supporting structure to innovation, not by formulaic memorization, but by serving as mentors much like experienced VCs for energetic startups. Ideally this setup will provide for a much larger portion of entrepreneurs than our nation has ever had before.I agree with your second point, I don’t believe vision is even manufactured, it’s discovered by individuals and then shared. I do believe there is an unknown amount of untapped creative power in our collective minds though. It’s always there cooking but most of the time we’re tuned out.Your third point is one of my favorite ongoing thought experiments, what’s the best way to connect minds? I suspect we’ll discover many answers over the next few years as we learn more about our minds, and experience customized technology to allow for collaborative creations. Thanks again Shana for prompting me to continue while at home.

        1. ShanaC

          Not a problem.Look, being the one in the current system- I feel very stuck. And feel like I have to re-learn, or start learning, at the grand old age of 23 ;-). (I’m not old, and I have plenty of time, and I know it.)And, being the one having to force myself to reach out- and being very confused what is the best way to do so- it is a pleasure.

          1. Mark Essel

            Here’s my first cut at a framework (very loose), follow YCombinator or Seth G’s Alternative MBAhttp://www.victusspiritus.c…

          2. ShanaC

            One up:In an odd coincidence:…Because: 1)I’ve been told by a good source that if I needed to learn a first coding language, it should be Ruby. (thought I have heard around that Scala and Python are also good choices for a variety of reasons: Scala for scalibility, and Python because it is widely used and it is easier than Java, which I had major trouble with trying to learn in under 6 weeks flat…don’t do that.) 2) I also realized that I need to read more. especially to develop a well grounded Bachelors. But not exclusively because of that. Just to feel better and happier.3) Lots of people probably want to be cross learning. The world has an impact what they do has an impact. Understanding why is a priority for some people out there and creating groups that cater seemed like a good idea at the time.4) Although I’ve read some of these texts, I’ve never read them for the sake of media.5) I think it is strange that we have moved so far away from the basic classics. Or that we can’t decide what the new classics should be. And I think it is strange that these classics are not as influential as they should be, because we are not reading them, we are reading things about them.6) I wonder if I read and learn to code at the time- will it make for better code in the long term? A more well thought out plan? Because I thought about the human consequences.I hope this helps. If you know of anyone who is interested….(Since right now this is my summer break plans…Along with BA work)

          3. Mark Essel

            This looks like a great collaborative learning project, although I couldn’t make it twice a week I’m sure I could make the trip a couple of times. I had some interest in scala, not sure about media books (my free time is eaten up reading blogs, commenting, and then gathering my thoughts into a post), my non-free time is eaten up by a wonderful companion/fiance, work, puppies, and an addiction to being outdoors the next few months.Live text chat could be a good start, and then elevate it to video chat, why not bypass location restrictions. I’d suggest aiming REALLY high to see how far you can push it within a couple of months, like not just learning the syntax of a new programming language, but coding a twitter app with scala (or another language) that extracts purchase information of specific brands from public tweets. (here’s what I got out of friendfeed with a simple search: Something like that would be really valuable to existing companies (could have a website interface after you get a standalone framework). I would be interested in assisting remotely with such a coding project and could probably convince one other capable friend of lending a hand (although we’d also be learning the language).Also, this may seem out of place, but might I suggest creating a simple organization for such casual meetups/open learning conferences if your initial meetup takes off. I’d definitely make more time to help scale such a concept.

          4. ShanaC

            I’m unopposed to bypassing in person meetings. I originally posted the same meeting on craigslist, and got one response.The original idea was based around the fact that I do believe in asking why alongside the act of doing. It bothers some small part of me that I can’t get people in on the joke “the Medium is the Massage,” if they don’t know who Marshall Mcluhan is, and they don’t know that he came up with the word Media as it is contemporarily used, and if they don’t know about this being his perfect example of what he meant…

          5. Prokofy

            Foucault is now a classic? What happened to Aristotle and Plato?

          6. ShanaC

            Foucault Rhymes (roughly speaking) and did add a lot to critical media theory (which I am behind on reading). The Panopticon and the idea of Biopolitics and Biopower should be discussed openly, even if we mean a corporate system of Biopower and Biopolitics. The idea that we can enhance or take away, and that we have large agencies that control such a power- is an idea introduced by Foucault. The internet and its subsequent medium is probably one of the largest manifestations of such an idea, even if we will only realize it 200 years from now.But if it makes you feel any better, one of my favorite implementations of Web 2.0 and a great discussion of society that one could think about in terms of media. “Man is by nature a political animal.” Aristotle Politics 1.1253aI have read the Politics. One could argue about it terms of Media. Is man a political Animal, in the Greek meaning? How does the internet facilitate or inhibit the behaviors, the oughts, set out by Aristotle.Sounds like you would be a good choice for such a coding/book club.

          7. Prokofy

            Thanks for the links. Doesn’t the Panopticon predate Foucault? I find “critical” media theory like “critical” accounting and “critical” literature often to be rewarmed Marxism — the lens isn’t trained on the actual authoritarian societies and is trained on Western societies as if capitalism is the authoritarian problem. It isn’t.As for clubs, I’m like the other Marx on that one : )

          8. ShanaC

            Well no one quite knows what to do with media. Especially new media. I just walked into one of the most famous academic bookshops in the world- and they do not have enough books to really keep up with the subject. I’m finding it hard to find out what I should be reading.Foucault famously re-read Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon as the ideal way to control a society in Discipline and Punish.As for Captialism to quote my facebook profile:”Becoming A Marxist’s Wet Dream while remaining a believer in a Mostly Free Market.”The only thing I like that is Marxist tends to be art critics. Media theory tends only to be critical theory mostly because it descends from the likes of Marxists of the Frankfurt school- who talk about Symbols and Gaze for god’s until when. (Walter Benjamin, Theodore Adorno, Clement Greenberg…all marxist in theory, who knows what they did in practice) New Media theory tends to be, well, pretty much dead unless you are reading Lev Manovich, is right now in the domains of lawyers…The internet moves faster than academics.And I will leave you alone about reading v coding. You never know these days.

          9. Prokofy

            I truly despair for people’s education these days. It’s clearly such an awful lot of Marxist claptrap. It rivulates through everything.

  7. stevenberlinjohnson

    Thanks for this Fred. As I mentioned on my blog, the original piece had even more about innovation, including this very important idea of “venturesome consumption,” which also flies below the radar of traditional patents and phds measurement of national innovation. it’s a slightly different concept from end-user innovation, in that it’s a measure of how willing a society is to adopt new tools or technologies, not necessarily invent new uses for them, or re-design them in some way. You need to have an entrepreneurial culture willing to take risks in creating new things *and* you need to have a consumer culture willing to take risks in *trying* those new things. Twitter is a great example of both.

    1. fredwilson

      can you write something on venturesome innovation? i’d love to learn more.

    2. William Mougayar

      Steve,Sorry, as I failed to discern the difference b/w the 2 types of innovation. Does one create more wealth than the other? Given Twitter’s simplicity at its core, this has lowered the barriers of entry for value-added services & products. But, how is this different from- say Open Source-based innovation or Internet-based innovation?

      1. GraemeHein

        I always get worked up over this type of question. Very technocratic and credentialist in its premise. William you sound like you work for MITI.The point isn’t that one produces more value than the other, but that this attitude is complementary. A company or culture that excels in one dimension is likely to fall short compared to a company or culture that has a developed all of the supporting elements & attitudes. Japan is a great example, where the rigid aspects of society have limited its ability to create exportable innovation (Toyota and kaisen being the great exception). Another would be Xerox (IBM and AT&T are the classic ones, but interference by the DOJ really screwed them up), inventing so many critical things and not doing anything with them.Venturesome consumption (or its lack) could be applied as the challenge that creates the innovator’s dilemma. With the executives in the role of non-venturous consumers.

        1. fredwilson

          We like spirited debate in this community graeme but not hostility. I think your message might get lost to many because of that first paragraph and that would be a shame

          1. Prokofy

            I support GraemeHein’s first paragraph. Indeed the premise is very technocratic and credentialist in its premise — and that needs to be said. I don’t get the reference to “sounds like you work for MITI” so that doesn’t evoke hostility to me, but even if it did. I think you can stand it, Fred.

          2. fredwilson

            He wasn’t taking a shot at me. If he was I would not have written what I did. He was taking a shot at another commenter and it felt hostile to me

    3. Prokofy

      When does it all break out of the magic circle, Steven?You have an endless cycle of start-ups, venture capitalists funding them, selling the start-ups to Google or Microsoft or trading them among each other like Pokemon cards, and opensource zealots essentially working for for free big companies that buy start-ups or use their free software for free. The widgeteers hope to live on the crumbs of consulting fees or ads on their widgets.These widgets are blogged about by a slavish tech blogosphere where they live or die depending on what Arrington or for that matter Fred Wilson things of them, and they hope they sell enough of the gadgets at a high price at least in the first round to make bank.The rest of the world may get a trickle down from this, or may not, “Silicon Valley” is enough of a global village that there are several million geeks that can sustain this entire bubble — but it has nothing to do with the rest of the economy.You look at California, and you see this fabulously wealthy globalized gadget producing techosphere, and then dire poverty, house repos, joblessness, schools failing.I guess I’m not impressed with this “entrepreneurial culture”. I don’t want it to save Darfur or stop global warming, because if we ascribe it that sort of social role, it will pick and chose among its favourite leftist causes to the detriment of the public good, outside traditional philanthropy and tax channels (that’s why “entrepreneurial” philanthropy is all the rage now, you don’t have to follow the process of public accountability that a traditional foundation provides).No, I would like this affluent and smug culture to become more aware of what it is and what it does and find ways to break out of the bubble, and creating more level playing fields so that not a few gain wealth by scraping the data of the many.

    4. kimheras

      Congrats on the article Steven.A really good piece that will hopefully open up the idea of end-user innovation to many more people. I agree with Fred, would be good to hear more about Venturesome Consumption.

    1. fredwilson

      I read the speech. I didn’t really get it

  8. Jeff Judge

    That’s an interesting thought. I’m excited to see patents lose some of their value as innovation keeps moving faster. Reducing the amount of patent trolls would be a very good thing.

    1. ShanaC

      One thing that disturbs me though, I do agree with Larry Lessig and his folk. Corporate Copyright has a 96 year lifespan, but when we talk about innovative products that have code involved, can you name a product that you expect to last through its entire copyright? A really classy, well designed product?Or even one that the code will last into the 20 year mark? Pretty much the only group of code products that I can think of in that category is SQL. Even then, SQL is far from perfect. The ANSI standards tend to be broken quite a lot…The diferrence is, I can definitely say htat my coffee pot(s), a Bodum that I gave to my ex, and my Chemex, can and will survive the test of classic, usable design. (And they both make damn good coffee if you get a good grind. 🙂 ) Both of these deserve the rights reserved to them. I can’t say for certain that for every function that word does….the rights reserved by copyright should be reserved.We need to reduce the right kind of copyright trolls too…Good design will be copied anyway by sheer inspiration and confluence. I talk to others like me. I get inspired by them. Get rid of the bad stuff…please…..

      1. GraemeHein

        Patents and Copyright are both too long, and some Patents are too short. The important element is the exploitable life of the patent as compared to the useful life of the product and the expense of inventing and exploiting a patent.So code and business methods very short useful lives while being exploitable from BEFORE the patent is granted and insanely cheap to take advantage of. Medical devices and drugs have very long useful lives but aren’t exploitable for years after the patent is granted. Drugs that reach clinical trials fail about 90% of the time, and candidates fail 90% of the time to reach clinical stage, making drug development massively expensive. This makes drugs and devices exceptionally costly once they reach the market – you have to make back all of the development costs (including all the failed products) in about 10 years. Add 10-20 years to those patents and the price of those products can be reduced rather dramatically with no impact on profits.Since the major driver of health cost inflation is innovation, extending patent terms (on medical items only) would be the most effective and the most easily enacted cost cutting measure. Other attempts to trim costs are generally ineffective (evidence based medicine is very easily gamed), counterproductive (limits on doctor take home = fewer doctors), or immoral (rationing). Extension would also encourage innovation while cutting costs, since you’d be moving the efficient investment frontier so that problems with fewer/poorer patients and devices with longer post patent development/approval times were attractive research subjects.

      2. Prokofy

        Lawrence Lessig, as a professor in Stanford University, lives off the capital produced by the last century’s tycoons in energy and communications who went on to create endowments and foundations. Good thing that in their era, they thought to support an economic system with things like 96-year copyrights to protect intellectual property so that Lessig could have his position funded.This is a classic post, Shana. Your personal coffee pot that you like gets to keep its copyright because you think it’s cool, but, oh, a Disney cartoon character can’t keep its copyright because you think it should be mashed up.Er, why would you get to decide what is bad, and should be gotten rid of?

        1. Michael R. Bernstein

          Prokofy, you seem to think that those endowments date from the same era as the extension of copyright terms. They don’t.

          1. Prokofy

            I’ll ask you the same question I ask everybody who raises this fake “100 year crippling patents” meme– which is just a Lessigism designed to decouple copyright and commerce further.1. Can you cite any 100-year-patent that has crippled your own personal creativity in some way in actuality?2. Can you cite any 100-year-patent that has crippled the creativity of someone you know in actuality?3. Can you cite any theoretical crippling patent of 100 year vintage besides Disney cartoon characters? Exception to this question: if you are under 7 and still watch Disney cartoons.

          2. fredwilson

            I can tell you about patents that stifle my creativity and those of others around me till I’m blue in the face. Its a waste of my time and yours

          3. Michael R. Bernstein

            You still seem to be confused. As far as I know, Lessig hasn’t tackled the issue of patents at all, and patents don’t last that long in any case. Did you mean ‘100-year-copyright’?Copyrights and patents are very different.

          4. Prokofy

            Um, no, I’m not “confused,” although I realize that the distinction between copyrights and patents is one of those things that knowier-than-thou types like to play gotcha with. And on the Disney thing, yes, obviously, I mean COPYRIGHT not patents, duh, but you’re welcome to provide examples of *either*.Lessig has in fact taken on patents in the past:…In one of his more wackier pieces claiming all media innovation comes from piracy:…More recently (where he lumps them together)…Fred, it wouldn’t be a waste of my time, and educational, to hear about even *just one* patent that you find is stifling your creativity, if you’re up for it.

          5. ShanaC

            Could I say that I cannot afford my Bachelors if I were to comply to copyright rules as it stands?Standard rules of art practice includes copying others work. It is very normal to go into a museum and copy in your own hand others work. It is also normal to reference or rework a piece that you saw. I can’t pull an Edward Manet Olympia anymore. Especially, if one would note, if high and low culture mix heavily, as it does now.Disney is part of my BA, the same way Andy Wharhol is. The same way Eva Hesse is. except, ummm…I never said that in public, until I get paid for a major work.Depending on degree, without a high level of prestige, I really cannot reworkI do not claim to agree with everything he says. I do claim to think that creative works should pass into the public domain more quickly.

          6. ShanaC

            And I have copies of my coffeepot, thankyouverymuch. It is a hard object to sketch, and hence worthwhile to sketch.

          7. Prokofy

            This is a preposterous statement, merely put up to defend a pronounced copyleftist point of view. You are not required to copy other people’s work in order to “afford” a B.A.Copying work in a museum by hand is allowed; photographing it is not. The Internet is a photocopier.How do you think we got college degrees before the Internet?!Referencing work is not what people do on the Internet; they copy, and the artist does not get paid.

          8. ShanaC

            Equally preposterous-…Who does it belong to-Alfred Stieglitz or Marcel Duchamp?If we assume Stieglitz is doing something unique, that photo’s going price is currently a hell lot more valuable than a copy of a Duchamp.…Oh the same way I am getting one- by reading a lot of books by people with names like Plato. Or Hobbes or Wollstonecraft.I just happen to read them on the internet because, except for the Republic-(I prefer the Bloom translation, which is not out of copyright), B. Jowett is what you buy.As for photographing- that really depends on the gallery and/or musuem and what credentials you hold. It is much harder to do in a museum- you need to ask permission first. That being said, I have taken photos with permission from docents and curators for both reference reasons and for the hell of it. I also regularly see people try to take photos in major museums.* Small galleries generally will let. it helps to be carrying an SLR without a flash and to be going to contemporary exhibits as well as talk to anyone who looks like they know anyone important.The argument of “copy” and what it means to be creative as well as what it means to have the body and hand extended is really old. One of the lead scholars on it is Joel Snyder at the University of Chicago, and a member of Chicago School of Media Theory.He wrote an article called “Res Ipsa Loquitur,” in a book called Things That Talk which actually tracks the intellectual history of how we relate to photographs in the legal realm. It effectively does debunk the idea that photographs are made by the sun. You are just pointing (aka, referencing). The internet will eventually have a similar history, especially because its look/feel is so closely tied with so many other media rich fields (graphic arts, photography, film)- it is just a matter of when and how we choose to deal with it.”Any invention or technology is an extension or self-amputation of our physical bodies, and such extension also demands new ratios or new equilibriums among other organs and extensions of the body.”- Marshall Mcluhan, “The Gadget Lover”Understanding MediaPhotography is an extension of the eye. Paintings period to early photography changed. That may or may not have been a good thing.The internet is an extension of far more than I can comprehend. It strikes me at a core. It creates and takes away literacy faster than I have heard. The sheer idea that I can be plugged into the knowledge of my ancestors (and I actually have participated in such, being that my real life is profoundly limiting my choices of religion, culture, and place), on close examination, one of the most extreme experiences I have been part of. So much so, in fact, that for a fairly long while, I actually tracked the changes. This is despite bans against internet usage among segments from where I come from. (If you can find out what the word pritzus means…)Referencing throws the idea of social contracts in the air by lowering the barrier of who and when and how I choose to engender community with. Referencing radicalizes the notion of the time needed to pass for a technology to turn into a source of knowledge.The sheer fact that you have a fully fleshed out alter ego, on a website, somewhere- generated in part through the process of refined referencing (a MUD) doesn’t bother you at all? We iterate until we get it right.*If you are going to photograph in a museum: do not use the flash- as odd as this sounds, some pigments used in paints are not particularly lightfast.

          9. Prokofy

            I’m out of time for college bull-sessions today, but I will just add this:1) I used to attend McLuhan’s lectures at university.…2 You are not plugged into the knowledge of your ancestors when you are plugged into the Internet, any more than you are particularly directly plugged into, say, the teachings of Jesus if you are plugged into reading the four Gospels. Stories get changed in the telling.3) People who work at making photos need to get paid for their hard work, and shouldn’t be browbeaten into being grass-growers for the sheep in the Creative Communism set-up. There’s nothing wrong with them copyrighting and selling their photos. It’s also not allowed to photograph in museums, not because of pigment, but because of forgery, which is a crime.

    2. fredwilson


      1. Prokofy

        Perhaps patent trolls are a bad thing — I don’t know if they are all accurately the trolls claimed.I know that there is a decided attack against intellectual property as a value under the guise of “patents reform” by collectivists like Beth Noveck and copyleftists like Lawrence Lessig.Using a term like “nation-state” is a marker for believing that there shouldn’t be something like that, that countries and governments are evil and we should all just have a Global Wave or something. No thank you.I fail to see how destroying sovreignty, which is one of the protectors of private property, leads to “capitalism and liberty”. I think there’s a reason why historically, capitalism doesn’t seek to undermine sovereignty in the way communism often did (except for the sacred Soviet and Chinese borders!).

        1. ShanaC

          I thought nation-state was more commonly used to refer back to our conception of governance that involve Social Contract Theory (Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau). Could you please explain to me why “nation-state” is such a marker?I can give a strict utility reason why patent and copyright reform is overdue: We patent and opyright more items than ever now, they are not all the same. I am not exactly sure why we should give all of them the same patent lifespan, nor copyright for 96 years, since clearly some patent and some creative work’s lifespans will die out faster than others. I want to maximize my optimality out of my items, therefore I need to adjust patent and copyright law.I also could just have certain opinions about the constitution and Congress, and the purpose behind why the Framer’s put in a clause about the power to limit the rights on ideas. As the bible says: What profit hath man of all his labour wherein he laboureth under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; and the earth abideth for ever. Kohelet 1:3-4 I figure these arguments are older. Say at least from 1710.Exactly what and how are we destroying private property? What criteria makes property private, and other property in the commons? How do we define a damage on this property? How do you want to reward damages?Capital fundamentalism also doesn’t resolve these issues- there are market inefficiencies for the people goods/serives hurt but are not buying a said product immediately. Hence how we got Superfund…Thinking through this system clearly actually will resolve, hopefully a non-physical property system. I am not sure if I own this post, even if the law claims that I do. Thinking through how to effectively construct a system of this being my property, well…

  9. kidmercury

    open platforms are the means by which virtual currencies spring into existence, and thus are how monetary policy and political problems surrounding the nation-state are circumvented, and the economic crisis (which is in reality a currency crisis) is transformed into the foundation for a renaissance. it’s the return to capitalism and liberty.but of course, we cannot get there without a change in psychology. first, we must be proud to be conspiracy theorists.

  10. ravisohal

    I think that the web is moving from a “social output” model to one that is “social input”. That is, information like news, weather, prices, reservation times, etc are the output of social (and economic) activity. And now we have more input: blogs, comments, reviews, social networks. The way I see it is that Microsoft helped make the tools that allowed us to move output from paper to computers and the web. Yahoo published the output. Google is indexing it. Now Twitter, Facebook and other social startups are the *channels* for social input. But what I find more interesting is that these new companies are not only the channel but also the publishing tool, publisher, and indexer.

    1. fredwilson

      i agree about the social channels. the interesting thing is what gets built on top of that

    2. Albert R

      Now that you categorize these innovations like that, it is interesting how similar Wave is to Twitter, but taking it one step further with customization. In the progress model you have proposed, I can’t think of a logical “next step” as large as those you mentioned, but a smaller step would be integration with output (publishing Waves to a blog) and ability to customize viewing audience. Twitter and blogs are very public, whereas facebook is very private, so now it would be nice to have something with an ability to choose which you want without having to go to another service.

  11. GraemeHein

    Well written article, but I lost all respect for Steve when I read it. Why illustrate juvenile tweets with “…just as it was in our living room when we heckled Richard Nixon’s Checkers speech”? What the hell does partisan politics have to do with explaining what Twitter is and what it might mean?The gratuitous anti-Nixon comment was tactless and had no place in a straightforward piece. It was also completely ridiculous, since the Checkers speech was made in 1952. Steve wasn’t even BORN for 16 years after, so who’s this “we”. The supposed shared group experience that would resonate with the readership wouldn’t be in the memory of anyone younger than 67! The youngest person who could vote in that election is now 78! Making it a worse example is that Checkers was a huge success as a speech (he was about to be kicked from the ticket by Ike, but was saved by the reaction). Heckling would have been believable (not from Steve, but in general) for “won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore” or for when he was fleeing the White House. But as a relatively unknown VP candidate? In 52 Nixon wasn’t even important enough to be hated.It doesn’t seem noticeable to you thanks to your environment, and Steve is quite the caricature – naturally he’s a member of the Park Slope Food Co-op and is off to bag fruit for 2 hrs before an interview. But when you’re writing a straight piece, especially somewhere that “claims” to be non-partisan, you have to rise above your background. Writers who invoke “we” should really have been part of the we, and should be aiming for the VAST majority of their audience to be part of the “we”. So use an example from the last 50 years, one that you experienced and was widely shared.

    1. Morgan Warstler

      Graem,There’s a defiency there, no doubt. But it is Steve’s cross to bear. Pity him for it. Empathize with his plight. If a man speaks enough words, eventually he’ll believe them.The important thing to know is that Checkers was huge old win, and smaller guy yapping 40 years later. Onward.I’m all over twitter on edu video. And he’s nodding towards that, so its worth digging around Nixonitis to find the pony.

    2. fredwilson

      I think that’s a bit of an over reaction to a throwaway line in the pieceFull disclosure: steven is a friend, a founder of one of our portfolio companies, and posseses a brilliant mind which I admire very much

      1. Prokofy

        So few tech bloggers write full disclosures like this! Thank you!I agree Steven is brilliant. And if your company is successful, maybe he’s right, too! But…I don’t think he has successfully explained the intellectual capital deficit in our country sufficiently at all.

        1. fredwilson

          Well maybe he’ll read this exchange and feel compelled to do so

      2. John C. Smith

        Don’t you think this (specifically the shared investor with Twitter) should have been disclosed in the actual magazine piece? Yes I saw the Summize bit, but I got increasingly queasy reading the story as I realized that SBJ was not going to disclose the USV connection.

        1. fredwilson

          I didn’t think of that. He has no investment in twitter through USVI suppose you could suggest he wrote it to curry favor with USV to benefit but he has no need to do that. I’m sold on outside.inI don’t know what the best practices are in this situation and I suppose I am too close to all of it to be objective

    3. stevenberlinjohnson

      GraemeHein, you really misread the point of the Nixon reference. I wasn’t being anti-Nixon, I was simply saying that there were no doubt rude or simplistic remarks said in American living rooms back then — we just couldn’t *see* the those remarks as easily as we can now with Twitter. If anything, it was a slightly pro-Nixon reference, in that I was calling his critics juvenile.The reason I used that example is that it widely seen as one of the first “shared national television” events in American political history. Not because I have any partisan agenda against Nixon that I wanted to express in the piece.Hope that helps return some of your respect!

    4. Prokofy

      Great comment, you made my day, the Park Slope bagging was the perfect touch.And since when is heckling something we’re supposed to replicate and institutionalize, anyway?

  12. Logan

    I have to politely disagree.Out of the examples only the iPod, iPhone, TiVo & Xbox are true engineering innovations that were built from the ground up. The rest of the “innovations” are like the writer said “end user innovations” that built upon previous inventions like cellphones(Twitter), Internet (Amazon, AOL, Facebook ), DVD(Netflix). You still need those PhDs with the depth & genius to invent the next Internet, cellphone, nanotech, USB, DVD, DVR etc so that “end user innovations” like Twitter can take off… Let’s not forget the cause while exuberantly discussing the effect.Here’s a thought experiment: If all American universities discontinued their PhD programs today, how many “actual lifestyle-changing hit products” like Facebook do you think would start up 20 years from now ?

    1. fredwilson

      I would bet that no phds were involved in the initial creation of facebookYour point is a good one about foundational technology thought

  13. John McGrath

    I think the microtoaster has already been invented. It’s called the funcooker.

    1. fredwilson


      1. fredwilson


        1. fredwilson

          I saw it on tumblr today. I want to hack it and turn it into a popcorn popper 😉

  14. MikePLewis

    Steven – can you just post the longer version of the story? Can i get a “Director’s Cut” copy?Fred – the fact that i’m reading this article is a perfect example of why the dashboard for the next generation is going to be less about articles and more about followers. I got this link sent to me 4 times. By the 4th time i saw it, i knew is worth a read.

    1. Prokofy

      You’re just explaining why PhDs have declined. Too many sheep following, and not enough people striking out on their own as individuals.

      1. ShanaC

        Bring something harder.I’m not sure if this is now more apparent because of media and more wealth spread to more people-Or if what you say is true.Hard data.

  15. Prokofy

    Re: “It turns out the U.S. share of both has been in steady decline since peaking in the early ’70s. (In 1970, more than 50% of the world’s graduate degrees in science and engineering were issued by U.S. universities.”I think the reason for this has to do with a lot of 70s educational ideologies that have instilled politically-correct leftist conformity rather than use the Socratic method and foster creative and critical minds. I think the war on boys in particular in elementary and middle schools and the effort to “tame” them according to some ideal radical feminist agenda has also been terribly destructive to boys, making them drop out and not pursue higher education in areas which, like it or not, admit it or not, have been male dominated.Another problem is the opensource movement, which is to blame for a lot of the lack of innovation, since mainly what it does is copy — like Gimp copies Photoshop or OpenSim copies Second Life. Reverse engineering teaches you how to steal and copy, not how to innovate.Quite a few of the services you list as innovative don’t make a profit for themselves — yet — like Facebook and Twitter.Yet another reason for the decline is collectivism in various work-place and educational settings, where individual initiative or criticism are scorned and suppressed by the group. The zeal to improve group collaboration, which is useful, has tended to travel on the settings that make for fostering individual initiative. It’s rare that you can say a committee invented something, eh?If innovation can’t pay, it makes the entire system atrophy and decline. And that’s where we are now.

  16. kimheras

    Great to see you highlighting an article on user-led innovation and Eric von Hippel’s work, Fred.Our startup, OneEyeDeer is working in exactly this space.We’re creating a user-led innovation platform, one that works the same whether users want to go through the innovation process on their own, collaboratively with other users in formal or informal communities, or collaboratively with organizations.We’re currently in private beta. The site is at – sorry to post a landing/rego page but we’re simply not ready for the masses of traffic your blog would generate :)That having been said, if anyone is interested please leave your email on the landing page and we’ll shoot through instructions on how to get to the site and have a play straight away.Exciting times to see user-led innovation featured on ‘A VC’, oh yeah, and in ‘Time’ 😉

  17. Joop Rijk

    I think you down playing the importance of the fact that US universities right now graduate a low number of PHD’s and students with engineering degrees and has not, and perhaps will not impact innovation in the US in the 21 century. Between 30 and 40 percent of technology businesses in the US are started by foreign-born enterpreneurs. Innovation and development at Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Sun Microsoft and other is for a large part based foreign engineers with HB1 visa’s and Microsoft now develops a large percentage of its software in Chinese development centers. If the tight money supply and ecomony does not improve the US may not be an attractive place to live, work and innovate for foreign PHD’s, engineers and entrepeneurs. They stay home and do their innovation and development work in their country of origin.

    1. fredwilson

      It may well happen. I don’t sweat it too much anyway.

  18. Stephan Marais

    To my mind the greatest advantage of incorporating your customers into the “innovation process” as you would call it, is that delivering a product to customer requirements will now have a 100% success rate – since the customer creates what he or she want themselves.The companies who will succeed in the future will be the one’s who successfully incorporates their customers earlier into the product design and development phase, while still maintaining the competitive, commercially feasible “supplier” of the product. Yes, be more open, but only to a certain extent! That is where the trick is.This is exactly the research that we are doing now – determining and developing the tools that companies can use to incorporate their customers earlier (and more effectively) into the design process.

  19. Niklas Lohmann

    This piece hits the nail! This is what makes software so fun to be in – modern clay, kind of : )

  20. JoshAEngroff

    Great post, such an interesting topic. One of the greatest strengths of the Web, of course, are open protocols and APIs that encourage such innovation, and it’s amazing to think that it didn’t necessarily have to evolve this way, as Jonathan Zittrain’s book makes so clear: . Can you imagine if the Internet had evolved like the phone system did before it, as a closed system lacking end user innovation, requiring government innovation?

  21. gregorylent

    disqus is a pain in the … now .. login, lose the place of where i wanted to reply, slow … whatever i was going to say, gone, and i am on a fast connection ..

  22. fredwilson

    Do we need a similar kind of openness in hardware for that innovation to blossom?

  23. Prokofy

    It seems with these examples that you are saying that the recipe is to keep proprietary hardware and software that cannot be “jailbroke” but have the platform sufficiently open to allow in the hooks of APIs. That is, it is not an extremist opensource solution.There isn’t any opensource cell phone.

  24. fredwilson

    But there will be soon. Android is the sw and something like arduino will be the hw

  25. fredwilson

    Check out arduino

  26. Michael R. Bernstein

    Also check out Gumstix.

  27. fredwilson

    I’m a lefty capitalist too. And proud of it

  28. Prokofy

    So Baron Florey, who made penicillin available to be mass produced, was government-funded was he? Innovation isn’t only about the innovator, but about the person to make it useable and deliverable. And…this is a conversation not about discoveries from 1928, but about why lately, in our time, there haven’t been any, so all the political correctness in the universities and government funding didn’t lead to the results you claim.Profitable when they need to be? Let’s keep an eye on that.Often, lefty capitalists are still riding off the last centuries’ wealth, spending their grandfathers’ fortunes to undermine the principles of capitalist societies to fund socialist utopias. Call me when they generate new wealth.

  29. Prokofy

    Yes, I figured if I wrote that someone would dredge something up, but is it as buggy as hell?Yes, Android is “opensource dependent on proprietary hardware” which is like being a little bit pregnant.

  30. Prokofy

    As long as you don’t get to spending OPM, Fred, we can leave you to your own devices.

  31. fredwilson

    I’ve been generating new weatlh for 22 years and proud of it. Grew up an army brat. Not living off any trust funds

  32. Michael R. Bernstein

    Technically, a VC is almost *always* spending OPM.

  33. Prokofy

    Good! Likely your own personal story gives you a sharper eye than most.But as you know, you’re the exception to the rule. The fields I work in are filled with trustifarians who sustain the socialism of others on their own dime, for idealogical reasons. Look at the think thanks, non-profits, publications, foundations — it’s often unclear to me how the third sector will be sustatined in the next 50 years as this is all just drawing down the last century’s wealth. The new media tycoons are selective about their causes.

  34. fredwilson

    Except when they are angels

  35. Prokofy

    They are voluntary investments, not taxations, and they wouldn’t go on doing this if there weren’t return.

  36. fredwilson

    Gates and Buffet are doing the right thing with their wealth

  37. Prokofy

    Actually, I totally disagree on Gates; on Buffet, I’m not sure. Gates flies across the ocean to help Africa, helps big institutions that suck up grants more than people, and then…what does he do for people in his own country? It’s not isolationist to ask this basic question.There’s a whole debate now about “philanthrocapitalism” — this giving to projects by one-man living donors — and it often goes hand-in-hand to trying to force an “entrepreneurial” model on to non-profits to make them be more competitive like businesses, which sometimes damages their spirit.http://www.opendemocracy.ne…I point to this leftist critique which I myself took issue with here (see my RL name), to get you thinking about the issue.But there’s really a lot more to this — it’s bringing a technocratic ideological approach to the job of humanitarian relief and philanthropy that has engendered quite a bit of debate and criticism — and of course, by only a few brave souls *publicly* because who wants to criticize the hand that feeds them?You can also just Google “critique of Gates philanthropy” to see the problem of doing something like, say, obsessing only about AIDS treatment. What that led to is many desperate doctors in developing countries having to essentially write fake grants for AIDS because they needed support for their *entire* health care system, and while AIDS wasn’t even what most patients presented with, in settings where it was cholera or TB or less attentiong-grabbing diseases of children, AIDS is what the West was willing to fund.And Jeffrey Sachs, with his notion that you just have to fund a lot of insecticide-soaked netting to be dropped off in villages and all will be well. All of the problems that exist in these countries, from the governance issues due to oppressive and kleptocratic rulers to lack of education for women, are in a complex that you can’t just solve by saying “let’s all just deliver 100 solar cookers to these women in Darfur, then they won’t have to gather firewood”.

  38. Prokofy

    No, I’m not wedded to the political viewpoint that you’re wedded to, evidently, from the universities.Again, the task for this discussion is not to say “historically private funding or government funding led to these examples of great innovations, like Tang from funding NASA or penicillin”.The task is to find *where is innovation NOW and how it is being fostered* and to account why there is LESS of it.You are completely lurching off topic and going to extremes to switch the discussion of *how innovation is created* by invoking the need for the government to fund roads. Of course the government must fund roads. Why would you need to debate that? Who could possibly advocate making roads by private donations, section by section (well, some states *do* have an adopt-a-highway approach!) But seriously, I wonder why you can make a snarky “smooth driving” remark like this when you yourself are off the road.Ponder where innovation is coming from. It is not from opensourceniks copying stuff and making Gimp. There’s some statements about innovation tending to come more from Asia these days. Let’s probe that. Why? Is it because their education is more classical, less PC and “child-centric” perhaps?

  39. Prokofy

    1. I’m *asking the question* of what Gates does for his own country, not claiming he doesn’t invest at all. But I’m not getting answers — again. Could you cite one of these “tons of programs” you think is useful? I wonder if the case can be made that he has spent more for overseas programs. Are they effective? This is a legitimate debate, and not one I dreamed up. Anyone can “research the Gates Foundation” and get standard and pat answers. I’m interested in hearing real comments.2. I don’t refer to Gates as a “leftist”, although he bears the same notions of the “California Ideology” as many tekkies. I believe Fred is proud to be declared on the left, however. Fred has called for nothing less than a revolution, overturning everything, in fact.3. You seem to fear analysis that makes a declaration that some body of thought is “leftist and socialist”. Have you read Kevin Kelly’s article in Wired? He’s happy to use the term — and it’s good he’s finally declared himself. The state doesn’t have to own the means of production — under web 2.0 technocommunism, collectivized groups everywhere are supposed to operate free tools and produce free content, just like in a collective farm.

  40. Prokofy

    1. You apparently have strayed from the premise of the original post and the Time article — that did not dispute that innovation has declined because there are now less PhDs, etc. It wasn’t my premise, but I don’t have a problem conceding it.2. Did you not graduate from a university? That’s all the point was, not about “affiliation”.

  41. fredwilson

    Thanks for sharing this. I like seeing both sides of the debate

  42. fredwilson

    I’d like to overturn this debate too :)But seriously, gates is doing a lot for education reform in this country

  43. Michael R. Bernstein

    Plenty of tax dollars go into venture funds, actually.And they would most definitely go on doing it even if the returns were (on average) negative. How do you think Vegas stays in business?

  44. Prokofy

    So you say. Reform into…what?

  45. Prokofy

    Isn’t this sort of investment of people’s retirement funds and such what got this country into trouble?And, if you think spending tax dollars on venture funds is so grand, say, let’s get rid of old-fashioned venture capitalism entirely and confiscate everybody’s income with a 54 percent tax, and then reinvest it in only those projects that, oh, Mike Arrington and Steve Gillmor and Dave Winer find valuable because they are on the Tech Investment Committee of the future. If you don’t like this, then I can only say, patch or GTFO, as the coders will tell you. And if you wonder, why isn’t Fred on the technocommunist TIC of the future? And the answer is: Fred didn’t show up because he doesn’t travel to the right conferences. It’s the law of showing up.

  46. Michael R. Bernstein

    Hmm. You have a tendency to respond to fact-checking as if it were an ideological challenge.I made no claim as to whether pouring tax dollars into venture funds was a good idea, I was merely pointing out that, factually, you were mistaken.Unless you’re going to take the position that taxation *is* a voluntary allocation of resources?

  47. Prokofy

    Er, no, you have a tendency not to accept other points of view can exist besides your own, and persist despite you “setting them straight,” and you see things in 0/1, black/white, common among technologists and web mavens.Um, I don’t make any claim about taxation being voluntary, that’s off track.Try to remember what the debate is about at the start. I said that it didn’t matter, in a sense, what Fred Wilson decides to do which his wealth, even if he funds lefty causes dear to his heart that would in fact undermine the system that makes him his wealth lol, as long as he doesn’t spend other people’s money.What that means isn’t the other-people’s-money of his fellow VC class, but leveraging private foundations or laying claim to tax dollars. And it means as follows, for me: as long as he doesn’t use his wealth and class and position to impose these lefty causes on us all in the form of government and governance of everyday city affairs, using his VC-funded tools of social media to pre-deploy the leftist ideology everywhere.Because frankly, it’s just a modern-day form of a Hearst newspaper empire backing a presidential campaign if you fund Twitter, which was given to all the lefty early Silicon Valley adopters and A-listers first, who got insiders’ specials for massive autofollowing (later denied to others who came later), to flog Obama in the last elections. It’s the same thing.William Randolph Hearst thundered that the word “socialist” could never, ever appear in a newspaper column; Steve Gillmor of the News Gang thundered at me and muted me because I called the ideas of Lessig “socialist” — two sides of the same coin, two media concentrations, two sets of funnelling for ideology.Indeed, media concentration and ideological tilting are what is happening even in “free social media” when you look at a number of causes, and how they are influencing a number of issues being decided in the Obama administration, not by Congress, but by various “czars” appointed in the executive branch. There’s a reason why you have three branches of power, it’s called “checks and balances”.There isn’t anything “surprising” or “evil” about this — newspapers have always influenced politics. What’s different about it, however, is that a) new social media claims to be more free and different and not like old media in this regard b) so many influential tekkies (not Fred) pretend they have no politics and are merely “the norm” and “the mainstream” when they are not.So, ever eager to prove that in fact things that seemed capitalist are really socialist (this is a heavily popular and sardonic meme these days with auto companies and banks being taken over by the state), you try to somehow “expose” and “play gotcha” on me, showing that why, gasp, OMGODZORS, even government money goes into venture capital funds.To which I can say, um, ok. So, uh, is Fred’s operation funded by my tax dollars? I haven’t heard that, but perhaps some strained and attenuated case can be made about this by contriving some stretched point about a tax break, or some company within a company within a something. Or perhaps there’s some other venture capital fund that is made up of some civil employee union pension fund or funded with tax dollars — and what of it? People with funds invest them to make the interest they have to pay out, and the monies are commingled. Duh?If you point is “wow, taxed dollars aren’t capitalism and yet they go in capitalist venture funds! Gotcha!” then I can only stare blandly and say, um, ok, but you seem to think that under capitalism, there is no social welfare, and that only socialist countries have social welfare. In fact, the U.S. has a good deal more social welfare than many people’s democracies claiming communist purity. And that’s normal and right, and isn’t about confiscatory tax policy taking 54 percent, like Holland, only to dole it back out to you in various entitlements as the state sees fit.And while taxation in America isn’t voluntary, it’s not so onerous as to inspire a revolt *lately.*So the moral of the story is that no, I am not “factually mistaken” about anything. You, however, still fall victim to the extremities of your world view, evidently, unable to understand the nuances that would go into a liberal democratic society with a mixed economy and free enterprise.

  48. Michael R. Bernstein

    Pretty much everything you attribute to my opinions (‘if you think’, ‘seem to think’, ‘ever eager’, ‘world view’, etc.) is almost completely wrong, and certainly not implied by anything in my comments.Except that you think that any correction offered is an attack on (or attempt at refutation of) your argument or your point of view.I actually think you have a point, sort of, or would, if it weren’t being obscured by the… screeds you’re typing up here.

  49. ShanaC

    I recognize that you have a lot of anxiety about the Administration and about technology.Unlike you, I’m luckily/unluckily in a position where those critiques about what do the annals of power mean- actually mean something. I’m a random college student, who has a tendency to talk and listen to everyone.I’m at a particular school, at a particular moment in time at that school. Which is why I am choosing right now not to name names(among other reasons). I’m also in a particualr moment in time where I have written to a lot of people- from real life bankers who have taken bailout money, to actual Anarcho-communist. I’m also friends with people who think the markets are more efficient than the FDA at being rigorous with effective testing and control of drug treatments, and therefore we should ban the FDA.What particularly about social welfare, taxes, and the connection to media and those who have ownership is making you uncomfortable?In the US, red-baiting is unusual. It also is unclear if you have a specific meaning to the type of socialism you are referring to and why? Can you quote specific people and names?What conception of a healthy macro-economy and micro-economy are you relying on? This is going to be difficult for everyone here. The definitions are radically changing, enough so that I am actually disgusted with how “Prestige degree” economics is taught. (but not enough that I know I will go out and buy the textbook one day…)Who do you think has a good objective standard? Why?

  50. Michael R. Bernstein

    Did you mean ‘when a VC is in the role of an angel’, or were you saying ‘angels are a subset of VCs’?

  51. Prokofy

    As usual, in dealing with the Internet-educated, I throw up my hands, as I don’t know where to start. I’ll have to give a long reply to deal even in part with all the memes.Er, no, I don’t have “a lot of anxiety about the Administration”. I voted for Obama. Hello?Nor do I suffer from “FUD” about technology, something that Internet-educated often think is a condescending and patronizing label they can use on anyone *critical* of big IT, technology’s overreach, the California Ideology, etc. Difference.I’m nearly 3 times your age, and I eat more technology for breakfast than you’ll eat in a month.I don’t think invoking people who want to ban the FDA as a criticism of capitalism is a very sound approach. You can be a vigorous supporter of capitalism, and still grasp that any liberal democratic civil society with free enterprise still needs government agencies from elected governments to serve the public interest against companies that may pollute the environment, damage health, etc.Like a lot of the Internet-educated, you find a horror in the idea of labelling anything as socialist, let alone communist. This has been taught to you in a series of superficial but viral memes as “McCarthyism” of “red-baiting” so that whenever you see these word used, except with support and praise, you read for your automatic memes that they user is “hysterical”.It’s useful to recall that Joi Ito, who sort of runs the Internet, calls himself a “venture-communist,” and that Kevin Kelly, who sort of founded Web 2.0, now proudly uses the term “socialist” for his theories.Another Internet-educated forums trolling device is to use literalism or “Fisking” to try to undermine what is the rational and needed critique of labelling things for what they are when they are indeed socialist and communist, and saying “Oh, but these words mean so many things they are meaningless” or “but oh, there are so many different kinds of socialism and communism from Sweden to North Korea”. Baloney. The words have meaning, you don’t have to cite a country-specific or time-specific execution of them, nor hew to the line that “communism is a great idea which is just poorly executed”.No one ever has any trouble understanding the meaning of “progressive,” however, which is supposed to only mean one thing and only one thing *you* like lol. I always find that absolutely hilarious! I guess the word “progressive” has been pre-cleared and pre-sanitized.Quite a lot of Internet education, like the education of colleges these days, is based on a few rewarmed Marxist or “critical” theories, without exposure to much else, so that it seems like “the truth” and anyone labelling it as such as “the red baiters”. This is the problem of the Closing of the American Mind.I think there are many examples of healthy economies. You actually benefit from one, living in the EU or the United States, and it enables you, the most affluent and educated child in the planet’s history, to sit on the Internet all day. Oh, I realize there is a hysteria about how “the U.S. is hypocritically using socialist methods” now and great evil glee over such things as taking over Chrysler, but in fact, the notions like FIDC are premised on the concept of a government that backs up a failing bank, and the government, even in a free-enterprise society, still creates jobs and runs some companies.I am less troubled by these seemingly insurmountable contradictions than you are because I’ve already lived through the recession of the 1970s, and had parents who lived through the Depression, and have lived in my own recession since 9/11 when one of my jobs was lost in ground zero zone. So I put it in perspective.The request to produce “a good objective standard” isn’t one that I would respond to, as there is no such thing on earth, where all men are partial in their understanding. You have to search out many sources and triangulate and field test..

  52. Prokofy

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