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Re: [xml-dev] Microsoft's deeply cynical appealto"standards compliance"

[Dennis Sosnoski:]
> This isn't exactly encouraging for a site that bills
> itself as an ecommerce leader (if they can't get this
> straight, I shudder to think what their security is
> like on the purchase pages).

There is no shortage of organizational incompetence.
I'm shocked at how much trouble I've had with my
oughta-be-very-simple customer relationship with AT&T
Broadband, for example.  It shouldn't be necessary to
spend man-days wrangling with AT&T just to get a
telephone line that does what it's supposed to do.  But
it does, and consistently.

<sermon type="inspirational" fundamentalist="no">

The lesson I'm learning is that the burgeoning
complexity of civilization has made it quite fragile
and hard to maintain.  Right now, we're all very
vulnerable to unforeseen situations in which
civilization must adapt rapidly or die.  Our lives
depend on the robustness of the systems that put
breakfast on our tables every morning.  When a "public"
website like MSN.COM is made to exclude popular
browsers, it's as though someone has deliberately
weakened a part of civilization's brain.  Such weakness
is bad for everybody, including those who maintain that
part of civilization's brain.

It's true that Microsoft is not in the habit of
offering products and services whose designs
demonstrate serious concern for the health and welfare
of civilization, humanity, or even its own customers.
But, let's be honest: Microsoft is not the real
problem; Microsoft's irresponsible behavior is a
*symptom* of the *real* problem.

The real problem is a spiritual one, and it is inside
us, not Microsoft.  As we play our business games, we
too often lose sight of the fact that the products and
services we provide are defining significant details
about how many human beings will live.  We need to be
thinking about the effects of our actions.  We need to
be hoping for a better future for our planetary
civilization.  We need to be seeing ourselves and our
organizations as the living cells and organs of a
living larger body on whose life our own lives depend.
When opportunities present themselves, we need to be
moving things toward that hoped-for future, rather than
just letting things drift in whatever directions they
may happen to go, purely in response to the current
demands of the marketplace.

Hope for a better future is not a luxury; it is a
spiritual and physical necessity.  It is a deadly error
to regard the marketplace (or money itself) as some
sort of deity who infallibly knows what's best for us.
We will inevitably be disappointed by that deity's
wisdom and mercy, regardless of what Louis Rukeyser and
the other zealots of capitalist fundamentalism say they
believe.  (Religious fundamentalism is frequently
invoked in order to justify all kinds of irresponsible
and stupid behaviors.  Even though capitalism is
generally beneficial, it can be invoked just as
foolishly as any religion can be invoked -- which is
pretty damn foolishly.)

Hoping, thinking, and acting as individuals on behalf
of our planetary civilization will probably not make us
rich, but it may well save the human race from
extinction.  Even if we can't measure the difference
between ongoing life and extinction in U.S. dollars, it
still counts for *something*, doesn't it?



Steven R. Newcomb, Consultant

voice: +1 972 359 8160
fax:   +1 972 359 0270

1527 Northaven Drive
Allen, Texas 75002-1648 USA