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   Re: local, global (was various ontology, RDF, topic maps)

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  • From: Eric Bohlman <ebohlman@earthlink.net>
  • To: XML DEV <xml-dev@lists.xml.org>
  • Date: Fri, 22 Dec 2000 13:28:11 -0600

12/22/00 8:45:50 AM, "Thomas B. Passin" <tpassin@home.com> wrote:
>Come on, guys, both ways are needed and I bet both of you really think that
>way, too.  Some things need group or organizational solutions, some are 
>done individually or on a small scale - even if the wheel get reinvented from
>time to time.  The balance constantly shifts.
>For the car example, most of us couldn't afford a car if it were individually
>designed and build.  And we wouldn't have any roads.  And you couldn'd drive
>anyone else's car. without training.  The way the subject of this list may 
>in to this is the possibility  of changes in the balance - of loosening up 
>way organizations work.

Suggested reading: Chapter 10 ("Standards and Regulations") of W. Edwards 
Deming's _Out of the Crisis_.  Deming describes just how much of what we know 
as commerce is possible only because participants in marketplaces have agreed 
to standardize rather than reinventing the wheel, and points out that in many 
cases industry standardization can forestall or reduce the need for government 
regulations.  To a great extent, free enterprise is based on companies working 
together rather than against each other.

IMHO, a classic example of a good balance between regulation, standardization, 
and individual innovation was the introduction of FM stereo in the US.  The 
Federal Communications Commission told the industry to get together and create 
a single standard for FM stereo transmission, which would then be adopted by 
the FCC.  It worked, because once the standard was created, all the players in 
the market knew that their equipment would be interoperable.  If the FCC had 
unilaterally imposed a standard of its own devising, we'd have had at best a 
technically inferior solution.  If the FCC had done what they later did with 
regard to AM stereo, namely let the marketplace sort out a bunch of competing 
solutions, it's unlikely that FM stereo would have caught on.  Why?  Because 
the risks would have been too high for most players in the marketplace.  
Unless the broadcasters, studio equipment manufacturers, radio manufacturers, 
and automobile manufacturers (the biggest buyers of radio receivers) all 
happened to independently adopt the same proposal, all the parties would be 
left with warehouses full of boat anchors.  A risk-taking rugged individual 
might have found that acceptable, but most of the parties concerned are 
publicly traded corporations, whose shareholders will take their management to 
court if the management invests money in ventures whose expected ROI is less 
than that of Treasury securities.


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