[FoRK] Alan Kay Interview

Gary Stock gstock at nexcerpt.com
Sun Nov 18 09:37:01 PST 2012

On 11/18/12 1:17 AM, Stephen Williams wrote:
> On 11/16/12 10:27 AM, Gary Stock wrote:
>> I had a similar reaction:  professional team sports as practiced 
>> today represent the clearest evidence that society is 
>> self-destructive -- and that we will follow willingly to our demise.  
>> Corporations score differently, and hide competition under certain 
>> cloaks, but it's the same impulse sucking the life out of everything 
>> they touch.
> Why do you believe that?
I believe that because it is consistent with a great majority of 
observations of sports, human societies, and corporations, while being 
inconsistent with only a very few.

At the core of professional sports (including teams) is the goal of 
defeating others (or other teams).  Some might suggest that their goal 
is making money, but that obliges the primary goal of defeating others.

People engaged in these sports routinely impose damaging drugs on their 
bodies to enhance their ability to compete, or to defeat others.  They 
routinely accept, and even seek, brutally physically and physiologically 
damaging punishment in the service of defeating others.  Some might 
suggest that their goal is making money, but that obliges the primary 
goal of defeating others.

These behaviors parallel human society's habituation to various states 
of war (see any essay on the language alone, e.g. 
http://www.sgiquarterly.org/feature2006Jly-2.html ,  
), and growing willingness to poison itself perpetually, and to degrade 
itself, its members, and its physical resources for short term gain of 
one ethnic or social group (read "team") over another.

Corporations do so often with greater guile, but always with a clear 
understanding that what matters most is benefit to the corporation (read 
"team") itself, regardless of harm to others, and with the explicit goal 
of besting, defeating, and possibly destroying "the competition."

Please reflect on the use of that word in that context.

In each case, harm to other "teams" is accepted -- in fact, it is often 
desired and routinely rewarded.  There may be greater reward -- in 
honors or riches -- by doing harm to the self (physically, spiritually, 
or otherwise) in idealized service of the team.

However, anyone who harms "the team" is either an enemy to be defeated, 
or a traitor to be punished, expelled, or actually killed.

Worse than death, perhaps, are punishments such as being banned from 
"the team," or carrying the reputation of having let "the team" down.  
(Cf. Joe Paterno.)

> Can you explain either of those sentences?
Yes. So could Judas Iscariot in re: the Apostles; Benedict Arnold in re: 
the Continental Army; awww, bloody hell, how is this ~not~ the most 
~obvious~ reality in all of human history?


> Some things are certainly suboptimal although it seems that your 
> identification of what's broken is different from mine.
Then I submit that you have missed some very important elements.

A more useful question, perhaps:  why would anyone ~not~ believe that?  
Even Kearney's boorish (drunken?) texts insist it's true!

>> The analogy Kay is wishing for may be musical ensembles... but even 
>> some of those get tainted by mindless notions of "competition."
>> GS
>> On 11/16/12 12:26 PM, Ken Ganshirt @ Yahoo wrote:
>>> Okay, I'm confused. ... Well, more confused than usual. :-)
>>> I have great respect for Kay and I enjoyed this article. But I don't 
>>> know whether the end of it reflects some of the author's 
>>> "reorganizing" and getting it out of context or is there something 
>>> subtle in there that I'm missing?
>>> "Kay: ...  American business is completely fucked up because it is 
>>> all about competition. Our world was built for the good from 
>>> cooperation. That is what they should be teaching.
>>> Binstock: That's one of the few redeeming things about athletics.
>>> Kay: Absolutely! No question. Team sports. It's the closest analogy. 
>>> Everyone has to play the game, but some people are better at certain 
>>> aspects."
>>> I see where he's coming from that when we work as teams we can 
>>> balance strengths and weaknesses.  But here's my problem: In 
>>> athletic team sports, teams exist and train and *cooperate* within 
>>> themselves for only one purpose -- to compete with each other.  How 
>>> is that a good analogy to the original point about competition 
>>> versus cooperation???
>>>            ...ken... 
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