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Re: e$: Mandarins, Lifers, and Talents

Lots of different issues here....

At 9:02 PM 11/16/95, Robert Hettinga wrote:

>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.

Unfair, unfair! I don't plan to dig up old posts where I said good things
about Bob's posts, but I know I have. His style differs from mine, of
course, but I usually avoid critiquing mere styles.

On to some other points in Bob's post: (quoting me)

>>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.)

"Flight" is a very interesting example to consider. Flight happened for a
lot of reaons, including technological feasibility, relatively low entry
costs, willingness of customers to pay for faster travel, etc.

It really did not happen because of cheerleaders. This is a recurring
belief of mine, notably in my occasional interactions with the nanotech
community, as a few members of this list can attest to. The "Rah, Rah"s--no
pun intended--play a minor role in adoption of new products and

>>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.

One argument I am never persuaded by is the hackerish "Feh." (Does anybody
but hackers use this strange word?)

In any case, I'm not interested in "doing better than that." My support for
Chaumian e-cash goes back to 1987. As to why I didn't sign up for Magic
Money, or E-Purse, of Digibux, or whatever, well, I'm not a merchant. Just
as one could study flight, to use Bob's example, without operating a
passenger service or a flying school, so one can be interested in digital
cash without "opening an account."

>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

Ah, but I never claimed otherwise (perhaps this is what you mean by "your
nonexistant point"). My point was only that digital cash will happen mostly
when it fills a need, or is accepted by customers, not by cheerleading and
by urging people on this list to be pioneers.

(And actually I have nothing against urging people to be pioneers. Or
cheerleading. It doesn't consume much list bandwidth and it may actually
help get someone started. Which is why I didn't call for an end to
cheerleading and pioneer-recruiting.)

The theories about mandarins, lifers, and talents I'll discuss at another
time, maybe. All I'll say is that I think it's too simple a categorization.
Maybe it's a Boston viewpoint. The folks I've worked with over the years
bear almost no resemblance to any of these categories. In any case, people
will start using digital cash if and when it fulfills some need, or some
need they never knew they had, gets stimulated.

On a personal note--which is weird, since 1000 or more people may be
reading this message, though most probably haven't read this far--I think
it best not to get too emotionally attached to some particular outcome in
the introduction of a new technology. Most product and technology successes
are essentially unpredictable, and many things thought to be sure things
are failures. I've seen many "prophets" wailing to the world that their
visions _deserve_ success.

The technologies which hit the right chord rarely need, or benefit from,
the "evangelists" and "cheerleaders." The Macintosh did not Guy Kawasaki or
any of the other so-called evangelists to succeed. The microprocessor did
not evangelists. The airplane did not. The VCR did not. The cellular phone
did not.

In fact, I can't think of an example of a major technology that _did_
depend critically on cheerleaders and evangelists. Some examples may exist,
but they seem to be rare. And I can think immediately of several
technologies that had active proselytizers--Ted Nelson, Doug Engelbart,
Marty Lepselter, Steve Jobs, Eric Drexler, fusion enthusiasts, space
enthusiasts--but in which progress has been stalled or proceeded along
different paths for different reasons.

This is a very interesting area for me, and I used to write extensively
about it. Nick Szabo and I had several debates about this, a couple of
years ago. However, no time now to discuss the full implications here.

--Tim May

Views here are not the views of my Internet Service Provider or Government.
Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,
[email protected]  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
Corralitos, CA              | knowledge, reputations, information markets,
Higher Power: 2^756839      | black markets, collapse of governments.
"National borders are just speed bumps on the information superhighway."