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e$: Mandarins, Lifers, and Talents

>Bob, let me do a minor vent here.

Fine, Tim. Vent away. In a minor key, even.

>You are critical of E. Allen Smith's viewpoint, and essentially question
>whether he has anything to sell. Not much of an argument.

It's a damn good argument, which I'll get to in a minute. It was just done
rudely, and for that I apologise to the list.

What I got was a reactionary flame which had nothing to do with the
(admittedly flag-waving) post I put up, which I should have ignored, but
instead I responded with a reactionary flame of my own, which got me a
reactionary flame from a Senior Member of the List, one with Maximum
Reputation... It has been ever thus, for those of you who've been around
here since I showed up a year ago last April. I just can't seem to color
inside the lines, as far as Dr. May is concerned.

>1. I'm not selling anything, and won't sign up just for "moral support."

I believe that was my point, Tim. You're *not* selling anything. I was
sending a message to people out there who *are*. People who are, or are
going to, use non-certificate payment methods, like credit cards, and who,
if they're subscribed to this list, should be clueful enough to do this and
know why they should do it. Besides that, it's free. Until Friday. ;-).

>2. I wish Mark Twain Bank well, but the success of the kinds of digital
>cash we hope to see will not likely hinge on the success of one particular
>operations, such as MTB.

Nope. But if people completely ignored the Wright Brothers, would Curtiss
have entered the market? (An interesting example, as the Wrights sued
Curtiss for patent enfringement and lost, I think.)

>3. The success of BankAmericard (later renamed Visa) came when real
>customers and real shops started to use it, not when early pioneers set
>themselves up as clearinghouses and whatnot.

I am talking about real shops. With real customers. I bet you haven't even
looked at the list of shops yet. What I'm planning to do is to offer
subscriptions and sponsorships of the e$ lists we're putting up on an ecash
server. Putting my money where my mouth is. Literally.

>I have more interesting things to do, personally, than to be a pioneer so I
>can then have nothing to sell, and little to buy....when "interesting
>markets" start to appear, I'll look at it again.

This is a straw man, Tim. Actually, it's post hoc. "If we had some ham, we
could have some ham and eggs, if we had some eggs." or, "If we lived here,
we'd be home now." Feh. You can do better than that. I've seen you do it.

But, to answer your nonexistant point, yes, people *are* starting to sell
things on the net. We know that the best way to do that in the long run is
with cash, and with other digital bearer certificate technologies. Not just
because these methods are secure. Not because they allow anonymity. They're
just starting to, and when they've been accepted in the market, they will
be nothing else but. All we need is a scenario where the digital cash
underwriter relies upon the ATM system for validation of identity, and the
second an anonymous bank account uses the underwriter, we have totally
anonymous digital cash. We're very close here.

>But when you urge people to be pioneers, and they express reservations or
>doubts about the system, attacking their motives or implying they have
>nothing to sell anyway is not too helpful.

Yes. it was rude. I apologise both to the list, to Dr. May, and to (soon to
be Dr.) Mr. Smith. Mostly for stopping discussion with a thinly veiled

>Just my views, but, then, I don't have any customers either.

Which brings me to my real point, here. Why I used an informal fallacy of
my own, and lashed out with an ad hominem attack against someone with an
.edu domain on their e-mail address, after they dissed something I think is
a good idea, at least for a start.

So, why did I do this? I didn't understand it at the time, but it's
probably class warfare. :-).

I just heard something on an NPR(!) talkshow with a guy talking about his
book about the three power group of american culture. It used to be what he
called the "episcopacy", the Groton-Harvard-State Department types who
ruled both government and the guts of American business until say, the
depression and World War II.  These people were there primarily there
because their families were there. They were "the nice people of Boston"
that Rose Kennedy had so many problems with. In 1953, say, it may interest
you to know, that the standardized test scores for Harvard were the same as
those for the population at large. George Bush was one of these, but so was

Nowadays, this guy says, (I can't remember who he is, but he wrote a book
about it, so we'll find out soon enough), we have *three* power elites in
this country.

The first class is the class he called the "mandarins". These people have
inherited most of the trappings, and titles, of the old episcopacy. These
are people who tested well, who were typically plucked from obscurity to go
to the best schools, and go on to places like Harvard, where the scores are
now way above average, and is now pretty much pure meritocracy as far as
admission is concerned, political correctness aside. Mandarins go on to get
advanced degrees. Camille Paglia, Milton Friedman, Carl Sagan, Billary
Clinton are all mandarins.  This is good. The best and the brightest get
the best educations. They're also the people who start things like the Viet
Nam war, and the welfare state.

The second class are the "lifers". These people who go to state schools,
get uninspired grades, and spend their working lives in the same
institution. Colin Powell, most Fortune 500 CEOS circa 1983, Lyndon Johnson
and Bob Dole are lifers.

The third class are "talents". Newt, and Edison, and most computer or
internet entrepreneurs are talents, especially if they have no formal
computer science training except what they taught themselves.

Like any set of categories, nobody is exclusively one class or another,
except that credentialism has allowed mandarins to capture the cultural
flag for the time being. Einstein and Whit Diffie are talents who got
mandarin credentials. Richard Stallman is a talent who will probably get
mandarin credentials posthumously.;-). Bill Gates is a proto-mandarin who
figured out he was a talent. Sloan was a talent with mandarin credentials
who created a whole industry full of lifers.

Pioneers tend to be talents, Tim.  They tend to talk in generalities, and
not color between the lines. They tend to make up rules as they go along,
and sometimes, like Mr. Bill, they create rules the rest of us have to
follow whether we want to or not.

One of my messier theories about the internet is that it was invented by
mandarins. Now the talents, the people you call pioneers, have moved in,
and they're much more pragmatic, and have little patience for crystalline
perfection, because inefficiency and chaos is where they find beauty, joy,
and all those other nasty imprecise concepts. When thing settle down a bit,
the lifers will come.  They're trying to do it now, by building sites like
www.time.com, or buying into sites like www.wired.com.

Even though you're an iconoclast, Tim, I couldn't help but think of you and
the proto-Dr. Smith as mandarins when I got you're response to my post. I
was trying to shout over your heads to all the talents out there trying to
make money on the net.

Even though you may think of yourself as a mountain man -- or maybe a
cowboy -- watching the settlers come, I feel more like I've upset the
decorum by hollering in the faculty tea room. Having embarrassed myself
that way, I'll try not to do it again. Because, oddly enough, we need each

Bob Hettinga

Robert Hettinga ([email protected])
e$, 44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA (617) 958-3971
"Reality is not optional." --Thomas Sowell
The e$ Home Page: http://www.webstuff.apple.com/~vinnie/Rah
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