Information Age Republicanism: Thou shalt not ...

Information Age Republicanism: Thou shalt not ...

Post by ucc0.. » Sat, 12 Oct 1996 04:00:00



Currently, Microsoft has managed to become what IBM, Novell, Apple and
others were striving but failed to become: the number one public enemy.

Our rules of the game award the position of number one public enemy to
the winner.  And most of us instinctively try to jump on the winning
wagon, to be privileged vassals or at least orthodox subjects, if we
can't be the king ourselves.  Finally all, even king Bill, become
slaves of the monarchy.

To fight this fatal development, we need a simple m*imperative:

  Thou shalt not propagate private pseudo-standards in place of public
  conventions.

This can be translated into competition law, e.g.:

* Software products are treated like industrial inventions rather than
  like books. Patent right requires that the invention's structure
  be made public.  Protection of commercial rights requires publication
  of the source code.  Secret patents are only granted for a limited
  duration and only for pieces of software on which no third party depends.
* The Polluter Pays Principle is applied to the domain of information.
  An institution that by its proprietary interface policy limits the
  choices of unconcerned others, pays for all losses, not just its own.
* Any public bid for system software must make the publication of
  the source code a condition.
* Any state institution or enterprise of semi-public scale (such as
  a telecom company, a tax consultants association, a hardware
  manufacturer) must specify public conventions for the use of its
  facilities rather than make it dependent on binary-form software.
* CD-ROMs that depend on a proprietary OS rather than on a public system
  like HTML/Java are either banned or taxed.

Today's attitude of people is like the vassal and royal subject
attitude of former times.  People then knew only "I am adhering to
this feodal lord.  Heaven favors him.  You should be on his side too."
They were not able to imagine a republican life based on a social
contract.

People must now learn that it is deeply imm*to say e.g.: "I am
using this brand's product.  It is the standard.  You should buy one,
so we can communicate."  Instead they should be concerned about the
convention through which to communicate.

Reformed minds reform the law.  Reformed laws reform the minds.

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