[p2p-research] Building Alliances (basic income and entrepreneurship)

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sat Nov 7 21:40:55 CET 2009

J. Andrew Rogers wrote:
> On Sat, Nov 7, 2009 at 7:07 AM, Paul D. Fernhout
> <pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:
>> For most companies in the past (maybe this is changing at some) talking to
>> others in detail about the current problem you are working on would be seen
>> as giving away key competitive information in a commercial context, and thus
>> violating either signed employee documents about confidentiality or
>> violating a fiduciary obligation to the company. Discussing your work may
>> also effect the patent status of it. Even at universities now, academics are
>> often not allowed to discuss their work until patents are filed (which may
>> delay communications by years). That's why I said it was probably illegal
>> for you to talk in detail about your work. Some very successful companies
>> have moved beyond that, but for many, secrecy is a big part of the game.
> Secrecy is usually used to protect resource investment that will
> always be scarce, even in a P2P scenario.  We don't have any official
> secrecy bits ourselves but we are covered by overlapping NDAs required
> by most other people we interact with.

So, you have secrecy bits. :-)

> Let me point out a failure mode of your model which you obviously
> haven't considered:

How do you know?

> We don't publish anything because no one cares to or wants to spend
> the time. Interesting, reputation-enhancing work that has no profit
> value even in the current world never gets written down in a form that
> would allow that knowledge to be shared because the only people that
> know it have zero interest in spending weeks writing dozens of tedious
> pages of no conceivable value to them.

OK. There is also a tacit vs. explicit knowledge issue here. Sometimes it is 
hard to go from tacit to explicit. Very hard. Sure, it takes time. Ideally, 
people have the time, and the desire to communicate. If they don't, they don't.

> Where is the incentive to share, when people could spend those same
> weeks doing something fun instead? 

Sharing can be fun. Also, again, it's a different paradigm. If you were 
working in public
then all those internal discussions would be archived an accessible.

I remember getting an email once from someone starting a journal on a topic 
I had posted on in passing a year earlier. I wish I had time then to write a 
journal article on it. It is relevant here for other reasons, too: :-)
"[unrev-II] Poetry and Knowledge Management (was Jack's Use Case)"
On Poetry vs. Fine-grained Meaning in Knowledge Management
The more I reflect on this, the more I think the issue of understanding
the differences and similarities of Poetry and Knowledge Management is
key to seeing the effective limits of hyperlinking and maybe working
through that into ideas for better KM tools. ...
   I have also been thinking about the previous message I sent discussing
the distinction between referencing text and referencing concepts and
mentioning how one could not hyperlink poetry in a meaningful way
(because to fix the meaning of words defeats much of what the poet
attempts to convey with purposeful ambiguity). In this sense Poetry
represents the Knowledge Management problem in a very bright light.
Poems are often intentionally ambiguous, with interpretation expected
oftentimes to depend on the reader. To an extent, poetry describes all
communications, even though the intent may be to convey more precise
meaning. ...
   When we talk about "unique IDs" and "global identifiers" we are very
much talking about sharing meaning through communications. Linking is
an attempt by the author to force (or make convenient the movement of)
the reader to a certain metaphorical understanding of the linked item.
Yet, the reader may prefer other links (either metaphorically or to
other resources) depending on the reader's needs or intents or
interests. Or the reader may interpret a reference, phrase, or link in a
way other than as the author intended. ...
   So, what I am saying is knowledge is in the system including the people.
When we talk about knowledge management systems we are talking about
systems that help people or communities to manage their knowledge --
that help people organize knowledge, communicate it, revise it, and so
forth. But that does not to mean we ever have to say the "knowledge" is
in the system, any more than we need to say that "knowledge" is in a
book. ...

> You seem to be operating under the
> assumption that sharing information has zero cost, but that is far
> from true in many cases even in a P2P world.

Things happen even when costs are high.

Wikipedia is a counter-example.

As are public discussion lists, as searchable by Google.

But in general, as above, if you are working in public, then you are 
creating an archive of information that others can use, without very much 
extra effort (maybe some self-censorship sometimes, or not. :-)

So, there are assumption after assumption that may be different here.

But, does it take a lot of time to communicate well? Sure.  I won't disagree 
with you on that.

It's just a different paradigm. Even in p2p, at least as I use it, there is 
also as struggle between how finished something has to be before you put it 
out there in the public record. What can you really assume about people who 
might read it now (including the 90% on any list who are lurkers) or, even 
harder, about who might read it years from now in another context?

I think it would be fairer to say I'm operating on the assumption that:
   "TV watching is consuming 2,000 Wikipedias per year in the USA alone: 
Mining the Cognitive Surplus"

So, even if sharing information has a high cost, there's a lot of spare 
cycles out there.

And people move through phases. Maybe someone will summarize or reference in 
an organized or selective way my points much better than I. as a stepping 
stone to crafting their own vision going further, as I do building on the 
work of others.

--Paul Fernhout

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