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April 14, 2008



Very interesting comment. I believe that one important characteristic about this balance is that it is essentially dynamic. In other words, it will not only change over time but will also change depending on the purpose of each stakeholder.

Chris Ward

There are words of wisdom in IBM's Business Conduct Guidelines http://www.ibm.com/investor/corpgovernance/cgbcg.phtml .

They say that they are there to ensure the orderly running of Sam Palmisano's business.

But they also say, when discussing commercial competition, "While the purpose of such laws is primarily economic, their effect is often seen as going beyond consumer welfare to protecting other values of society, including individual freedoms. "

So Sam P does like making money. But he also likes a balance. And that's good.

Hamish MacEwan

You might want to have a look at Clay Shirky's latest:


Your "sympathy," and his "love," both appear to have expanding diameters in a more connected world.


Bob Pulver

Hi Irving -

I think the crowdsourcing model holds great promise, particularly those focused on societal issues and philanthropic efforts. InnoCentive is a great example, but there are plenty of others. People are motivated to participate not with monetary rewards, but rather the reputation they earn and intrinsic value received from contributing. Society benefits for obvious reasons such as accelerated solutions for significant challenges and more widespread acknowledgment that these issues affect society as a whole. IBM's GIO 3.0 Media & Content topic hit on these themes.

Before you officially left IBM, we spoke about prediction markets. This technology and methodology are getting increased attention this year due to the elections, and some economists believe they could be quite useful elsewhere in government. This is not to say that all matters would be decided by putting the choices into a public marketplace, certainly. However, we know there are situations and policies in need of significant changes, so perhaps the idea isn't that far-fetched.


I believe the rise of the corporate entity broke the delicate balance between free, open markets and sympathy. Corporate entities were originally designed as a buffer against individual risk, which was seen as a restriction on the growing needs of business entities. Thus came the government creation of the corporate entity. I believe this had a dramatic effect on how, from a cultural/sociological perspective, people interacted with businesses and within business. As businesses grew under the corporate model, sympathy, for a variety of factors, was marginalized relative to the raw profit motive driving the open markets.

I wish the corporate model could be abolished, but I do not see that happening.

Chris Ward

Well, there are a number of cases where 'corporate' interests are being pitted against 'individual' interests; and it's in large part related to growth of Internet as a distribution channel, and the 'Web 2.0' user-generated content proposition.

For example here http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7342135.stm and here http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7246403.stm is a brewing storm over what should happen if someone distributes commercially-valuable material over Internet without the permission of the owner.

If I sing a song or make a home movie, it's not worth a lot. But over the last 50 years or so, fortunes have been made (and lost) with things like Star Wars and The Carpenters, by controlling distribution channels and making people pay for tickets to the movies and for vinyl, cassette tapes, CDs, etc.

So we now get to the position where individuals might quite like to put Karen Carpenter on their web site (and might be technically capable of it); the 'entertainment industries' see it as a threat to their revenue and want the 'internet service' industries to be their policemen; the 'internet service' industries know who pays the bills and want to respect the privacy of their customers; and governments are taking sides on the issue. The UK government sides with 'Big Media' and the European government sides with the Internet Service'.

How am I to know how it will all shake out ? That's like asking me whether you will survive an outbreak of Bird Flu; completely beyond my competence.

As an engineer, though, I know there's no turning back the clock. The next generation of Disney Home Movies will be brought to you over Broadband. Blu-Ray is the last generation of 'pieces of plastic with pictures of Cinderella and Snow White on' that Disney will sell.

New business models replace old. Opportunity is there for those who adapt.

It all has to do with the speed and direction of the flows of those little green pieces of paper that humans are so fond of chasing.

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