Thursday, December 04, 2008

Jon Taplin's America 3.0 Presentation

Below I've embedded the You Tube presentation by Jon Taplin of his ideas on America 3.0. I recommend it for understanding the economic crises and some potential approaches to resolving these crises. I differ with Tap on some of the details.

1. Innovation is bred not invented. It is a cultural change problem to pick the right cultures at the right time and it is a funding issue as to what conditions must be met to receive funding. In my opinion, California is emblematic of the culture of consumerism and politically lacks the will to adjust its own lifestyle enough to warrant massive block grants. In short, if the automakers have to drive to DC with a plan in hand, California's governor will have to do the same and he shouldn't drive a Hummer. Tap is an unconditional cheerleader for the California Culture. I admit the need for lobbying for one's own but do be do be doo.

2. While the ideas of bottom-up open source America Needs A New Operating system are attractive to the geek in me, I am mistrustful of such metaphors in the details. Policies have to see to details or we will quickly devolve into another Spy Vs Spy episode where one power elite is substituted for a power elite. Nothing changes but the flow of wealth among two competing classes at the same level. In short, meet the new boss.

Let me give you one example. Standards are one of the means by which innovation is shared, but too often, covertly or openly, one of the means by which companies dominate and deny the commons what it needs to sustain itself: access to market.

How does that work? Company A receives a PAS standard for a platform with licensable plugins. Company A then requires all companies submitting the information for applying for the license to include relevant standards used to create the plugin. Company B submits required information including the fact that the plugin is based on standards approved by the same standards organization that provided the PAS. Company A rejects the license application renewal for an application that was approved one year prior minus the information about the standard used by the plugin citing that the plugin implements a technology that is competitive with Company A's technology in the same market.

One year earlier, that was Ok. One year later with the additional information, it is not.

That's cynical? It won't happen.

It did in a soon to be famous case where a proprietary specification was allowed to become an international standard. A very powerful company (NO, it wasn't Microsoft) then denied licenses exactly as described.

Before the power and credibility of the White House are dragged into the internal marketing politics of these companies and market cartels, policies must be clearer as to what can be claimed and what recourses third parties have in the face of exclusionary actions. If we are to use Federal power to drive innovation, we must first set policy for the intellectual property, how it is shared or licensed, and we must ensure that the elite cultivar chosen can suitably be rehosted or replanted in cultures different from that of the original. Otherwise we are completing the branded homogenization of America into a mall where only the bigger brands compete.

I have a few other minor quibbles with Tap's presentation, but in the main he has done an excellent job of outlining the history of economic collapse and pointing to reasonable actions. The devil is in the details and that is what we should be discussing.

Do take the time to watch his presentation.


Amber in Albuquerque said...

Tap & crew tend to see everything through the dual prisms of 1) California and 2) the entertainment industry/culture.

Intellectual property law, when seen from the geek side is way more complex than when seen from the artist side (even though technology is complicating that side as well).

One of the reasons I continue to comment over on Tap's blog (besides the intelligent group of commenters in general) is to toss in some 'outside of California' perspective. Sometimes its like they're living in a bubble (that formed at a boys club in the Haight in the 60s). Most of the time I agree with them in general, but as you say, the devil is in the details.

Len Bullard said...

Locale always makes a difference in perspective, Amber, as you and I have noted. I like Tap's blog precisely because we don't agree on everything and because there are some very smart thinkers there. As noted before, those locale differences also include cultural differences as to what constitutes polite even if combative exchange. I come from a slower slightly more courtly culture and Jon is living in the fast paced one that prizes aggression and individual mystique. It is ironic in light of our myths of origin. I would not vote for Palin but to pursue destroying her reputation is so beyond what I consider civilized it actually makes me physically uncomfortable. It has nothing to do with desire and everything to do with disgust. As I said, boiling the barbarians.

I've responded already to some of the comments on the America 3.0. He has some good ideas, some slightly skewed history, and of course, interpretation and prognostication are always speculation in want of testing by experience.

Amber in Albuquerque said...


I don't know if you were reading/commenting on Taplin's blog during the republican primaries. He did a post on McCain's 'character' that examined his failed first marriage. Even though everyone agreed that since McCain was running on 'character' that it was 'legally' fair game, but almost everyone also told him that he was out of line and the post was beneath him. I was glad to see that (I don't remember if I was one of the chorus...I don't think I was an active commenter at the time).

FWIW, I never understood his issues with you. We haven't always agreed, but the discussion has (almost ;0) always been civilized.

I'm also planning on keeping you in my feeds because, like you, I value differences in opinion when they are intelligently discussed.

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