Four Pillars: More on Exchanging Queens: Preparing for another Recap

Bogoljubow is endlessly optimistic. He always hopes to find new strength for his creative endeavours deep in his rich natural talent.

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That’s Alexander Alekhine speaking about Efim Bogoljubow, probably my favourite chess player of all time. Bogoljubow, together with Alekhine and Capablanca, became the Triumvirate, the Taylor Vardon Braid of chess at a time when chess was glorious. And, oddly enough, around the same time as TVB.

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I love Bogoljubow, and not just for his chess playing. The Alekhine quote is a window into his attitude to life. Here are two of my favourite Bogoljubow stories:

When asked how many moves he “thought ahead”, Bogoljubow pondered for a second, flashed his teeth and said “Just one. The best”.

Commenting on a recent run of victories, he said “When I play white I win because I play white. When I play black I win because I am Bogoljubow.”

He knew something about simplification and about simplicity, while retaining style and elegance and brilliance. Without the corruption of marketing.

And maybe that’s what we need more of in IT.

A recent post by Don Marti about lightweighting, and a not-so-random walk following the honey trail from there to Rageboy and via him to David Isenberg’s Stupid Network, made me think harder about simplicity within Four Pillars. Thank you Don.

I quote from Don’s post:

What’s going on is that we’re somehow, against all odds, collectively giving ourselves permission to eliminate bullshit. And one example of lightweighting breeds another. Eben Moglen writes, “wrap the Internet around every brain on the planet; spin the planet. Software flows in the network.” In that example, the lightweight Internet standards process creates an environment suitable for peer production of software. And now lightweight software processes are enabling lightweighting of business processes that depend on that software and are increasingly embodied in it.

Permission to eliminate bullshit. Simplification.

I went on to remind myself of what David Isenberg had said in his famous essay, and was RageBoyed into the remake, which can be found here. Again, worth quoting from to illustrate the point I’ve yet to make:

Under the heading Stupid is Better, David says:

Stupid Networks have three basic advantages over Intelligent Networks – abundant infrastructure; underspecification; and a universal way of dealing with underlying network details, thanks to IP (Internet Protocol), which was designed as an “internetworking” protocol. Some key “two-fers” emerge from these basics: Users gain end-to-end control of interactions, which liberates large amounts of innovative energy; innovative applications are rapidly tested in the marketplace; and innovative companies attract more capital and bright people.

Critical points. All of them.

The abundance of the infrastructure issue is at the heart of the Net Neutrality debate. And is not about pino lefty politics or tree-hugging Ice Age predictors. Without this abundant infrastructure, we cannot gain end-to-end control of interactions, as David says. New forms of intermediation are fine provided value is created, derived and shared. Parasites and leeches are not fine. Neither is making scarcity out of abundance any sort of virtue. Without end-to-end “control” we cannot create the reliability and consistency of customer experience we need. And with end-to-end control, we can prevent the pirates of DRM from boarding our good ship. Yes, they are the pirates.
The underspecification issue is also critical. It is somewhere in the community standards and microformats spaces, a way of preventing vendor corruption of the standards process.

As soon as we have these two things, abundant infrastructure and underspecification, it becomes easier for us to scale things. Add things. Take things away. Something the digital world has promised but rarely made easy. Not because we wanted to prevent it, but because the lock-in merchants needed to.

Now maybe you get an idea as to why I was so hung up about the internet and net neutrality and identity and DRM and IPR and and and.

We have to solve these. Make the Machine Tools we need. Avoid building the safety devices and harnesses in the wrong place and for the wrong reasons and protecting the wrong people.

Then we have Foundation. With the right approach to Empire. A scalable way of providing the Four Pillars. With innovation as a way of life in the rooftops. With consistent and reliable service and fast time-to-market applications. Providing products and services the customer wants, co-created by the customer in the first place.

More later. To Be Continued.

I feel another Recap coming. After I see what comments I get from this post, what snowballs begin, what honey trails I have to follow.

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