J. Andrew Rogers
<andrew at ceruleansystems.com> on
Thu May 24 09:50:58 PDT 2007
On May 24, 2007, at 7:53 AM, Jeff Bone wrote:
> Without being critical, James... the assertion that "there is
> nothing hard about money" and its corollary that getting past the
> money problem and focusing significant resources on deep-rooted
> problems is not hindered by the money problem would be more
> compelling if presented by someone that had clearly solved the
> first and was actively, publicly engaged in the second.
All my assertions were very broad and poorly focused, mostly because
I have no idea what we are talking about here exactly. :-)
> ("I could solve the money problem if I tried, but I'm working on
> other, more important and interesting stuff" may very well be true
> in your case, but it's a dead hand debate-wise. In my case, I've
> solved the money problem and then unsolved it and then mostly
> solved it again --- keeping it solved is a second-order and harder
> problem still ;-) Besides which real "money problem" I'm talking
> about is actually the higher-order money problem, not making the
Money problems per se do not significantly concern me personally, at
the moment at least, but it is very frequently raised as a problem by
many people (who themselves are usually the reason the problem
exists). Many basic money problems are symptomatic of other problems.
There are several interesting higher order money problems, so which
ones would you be referring to?
> If you've got a billion or so to play with, you can throw real
> resources at some longer-term problems. But (a) how can we attack
> longer-term larger-scale problems short of having a few billion to
> play with, if at all, or (b) how can you bootstrap into solutions
> to some of those types of problems, or (c) are there leveraged
> smaller problems that can, in coordination, help with (b) above?
If efficiency matters, the tactics have to be flexible enough to fit
reality in support of the long-term large-scale strategy. That does
not require much more than careful and pragmatic analysis. Acquiring
a billion dollars may well be cheaper/faster than every other
realistic option in the calculus, which requires both patience and
accepting the conclusions of a rational study of the problem at
hand. In practice, very few problems are analyzed for solutions from
anything but narrow perspectives that dictate what is possible.
Meaning, I think there is an inexpensive/less expensive way to solve
many problems that most people assume will require inordinate
resources that simply require very careful and intelligent study of
the dynamics of the system in question.
As you know, I think there is a lot of opportunity in (c) that is
under-exploited primarily because the focus and/or domain of most
people is too narrow. There is a wealth of opportunities, the hard
part is finding (or fabricating) the opportunities that will generate
the most strategic leverage in a direction that is useful for other
> There are some problems that the bazaar isn't well-suited to
> solving, for various deep-seated "structural" reasons, and yet that
> the cathedral is incapable of or uninterested in tackling. Yet
> some of those same problems don't typically attract the kind of
> commercial investment that they need, due to shortsightedness of
> capital, lack of clear primary returns, etc. That doesn't
> invalidate those problems or lessen their importance; but it does
> make effort hard to apply in those areas.
I get the impression that more capital would have little impact on
many of these areas, that money per se is not the gating factor. Do
you have a specific example that can be fenced with? I do agree that
having large quantities of available capital does allow one to
consider strategies that might otherwise not be available. Hell,
there are very interesting problems/challenges that might be useful
elements of a larger strategy that really could use billions (or tens
of billions) of dollars worth of working capital, but I do not see
too many that need to be solved today in the order of things that
need to be approached this way. Gotta prep the battlefield first.
The real limitation to almost all of these kinds of projects is the
people involved in implementation and execution, in terms of quality,
quantity, and diversity. On the upside, the Internet provides one of
the best environments yet for winnowing the population.
> I'm not contemplating something as potentially ineffective and time-
> wasting as a "geeks future-oriented PAC" or anything. Give me more
> credit than that, please... I'm thinking both bigger (in impact)
> and smaller (in scope and thus complexity) than that. I'm thinking
> meta-business models, not petition drives or "activism" in any
> recognized sense of that term. I'm sick to death of politics.
> There's no good solution in that space other than to simply
> "whatever it is, I'm against it."
Which is what I figured, but excluding all the cheerleading stuff
still leaves a rather broad space of possibilities.
> The thesis, then, fundamentally, is this: the cathedral vs. the
> bazaar is an artificial and invalid dichotomy, and many sorts of
> worthwhile efforts suffer because of that simplistic means of
> organizing effort.
There are plenty of very successful organizations or adhocracies that
are essentially bazaars internally that apply very strong filters to
who can participate in order to ensure some level of reliable goal
alignment and implementation capability. No one may be building
cathedrals, but at a minimum you need to be *capable* of it.
J. Andrew Rogers
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