What made iWork a success—and helped re-launch Apple—was the fact that Pages could open and save most Word files; Numbers could open and save most Excel files; and Keynote could open and save most PowerPoint presentations. Apple did not attain this compatibility through Microsoft's cooperation: it attained it despite Microsoft's noncooperation. Apple didn't just make an "interoperable" product that worked with an existing product in the market: they made an adversarially interoperable product whose compatibility was wrested from the incumbent, through diligent reverse-engineering and reimplementation. What's more, Apple committed to maintaining that interoperability, even though Microsoft continued to update its products in ways that temporarily undermined the ability of Apple customers to exchange documents with Microsoft customers, paying engineers to unbreak everything that Microsoft's maneuvers broke. Apple's persistence paid off: over time, Microsoft's customers became dependent on compatibility with Apple customers, and they would complain if Microsoft changed its Office products in ways that broke their cross-platform workflow.
Friendly competition can push us all to do better. But when the competitiveness that fuels excellence and prestige becomes based in the logic of the market, universities lose sight of their true purpose, writes Kathleen Fitzpatrick
Kudos Kathleen! This! This is the type of university I would want to be a part of.
This article reminds me a lot of the thesis in American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper. There they indicate that America’s economy isn’t one of pure capitalism and competition, but that we’ve gotten here by a healthy dose of having a mixed economy. Higher education needs a lot of that same mixed economy perspective to fix the wrongs of decades of to much direct competition which is having far too many unexpected consequences and emergent behaviors which we didn’t expect, anticipate, and now have trouble attempting to fix.
This article is so important, just this once, I’ll recommend that those who hit the website’s paywall and don’t want to register, use a read it later service like Pocket or Instapaper which should give you the full text or you can use your browser’s functionality for “viewing source” to get a marked up version.
Conventional antitrust thinking is being disrupted from within
It is not the data that are valuable, he says, but the services powered by them. Some firms are just better at developing new offerings than others. ❧
So big piles of data can become a barrier to competitors entering the market, says Maurice Stucke of the University of Tennessee. ❧
“When feedback data from large players is available to smaller competitors, then innovation…is not concentrated at the top,” he argues in “Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data”, a new book co-written with Thomas Ramge, a journalist. ❧
This sounds like something which could be worth reading.
A perfect example of a Hamiltonian internet for maximum control
Leading thinkers in China argue that putting government in charge of technology has one big advantage: the state can distribute the fruits of AI, which would otherwise go to the owners of algorithms. ❧
Such thinking has also been gaining some traction in the West, although so far only at the political fringes. The underlying idea is that some types of services, including social networks and online search, are essential facilities akin to roads and other kinds of infrastructure and should be regulated as utilities, which in essence means capping their profits. Alternatively, important data services, such as digital identity, could be offered by governments. Evgeny Morozov, a researcher and internet activist, goes one step further, calling for the creation of public data utilities, which would pool vital digital information and ensure equal access to it. ❧
When it comes to democracy and human rights, a Jeffersonian internet is clearly a safer choice. With Web 3.0 still in its infancy, the West at least will need to find other ways to rein in the online giants. The obvious alternative is regulation. ❧
The story of an innovative university's shutdown says as much about the landscape for online learning as it does about one campus's decisions.
I didn’t expect institutions like this to begin closing for several more years, but apparently a perfect storm of circumstances and competitive forces is starting to see some smaller, old institutions begin to close.
Bowdoin College in Maine and Vassar College in upstate New York are roughly the same size. They compete for the same students. Both have long traditions of academic excellence. But one of those schools is trying hard to close the gap between rich and poor in American society—and paying a high price for its effort. The other is making that problem worse—and reaping rewards as a result.
“Food Fight,” the second of the three-part Revisionist History miniseries on opening up college to poor kids, focuses on a seemingly unlikely target: how the food each school serves in its cafeteria can improve or distort the educational system.
It would be nice to figure out a way to nudge some capitalistic tendencies into this system to help fix it–but what?
What computers teach us about getting along. From an office at Carnegie Mellon, my colleague John Miller and I had evolved a computer program with a taste for genocide.
This article reminds me that I need to go back to reading Fukuyama’s two volume series (Origins of Political Order) and apply more math to it as a model. I can see some interesting evolution of political structures spread throughout the modern world and still want a more concrete answer for the jumps between them. I suspect that some of our world problems are between more advanced political economies and less advanced (more tribalistic ones — read Middle Eastern as well as some third world nations) which are working on different life-ways. Are there punctuated equilibrium between the political structures of economies like the graph in this paper? What becomes the tipping point that pushes one from one region to the next?
I also feel a bit like our current political climate has changed so significantly in the past 20 years that it’s possible we (America) may be regressing.
Check out this referenced paper:
🔖 Barasz, M., et al. Robust cooperation in the Prisoner’s Dilemma: Program equilibrium via provability logic. arXiv 1401.5577 (2014).