Another Market Fable

Market irrationality’s darkest side is the way it so often so violently kills the geese that’s laid its golden eggs. The financial folks keep reinventing ways of making absurd amounts of money because their most successful inventions, derivatives being the most recent example, tend to explode. This time, too, due to another market innovation– the interlocking global capital markets– the self-destruction has led to a continuing world wide meltdown, from Iceland to Portugal.

In the wake of all of this we must be developing a whole slew of new aphorisms that all say something like, “when the banks mess up, the poor pay the bills.” Of course, there’s really nothing new in that at all. This, I think, ought to be the context through which we think about net-neutrality in general and Tim Berners-Lee’s recent piece, “Long Live the Web: A Call for Continued Open Standards and Neutrality,” first published in the Scientific American.

Berner’ persuasively suggests that we are reaching an important turning point. If we kill the goose we won’t get any more eggs. It’s not too complicated, in the end, although the ramifications might be very completed as well as damaging. “The primary design principle underlying the Web’s usefulness and growth,” Berners says, is universality.” If it’s not universal; it’s not the web. If it’s not the web, (digital communications) innovation slows to a crawl or stops altogether.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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