Mon, 21 Jan 2002 14:18:50 -0600
Eugene Leitl wrote:
> Elitism is fundamentally incompatible with a commercial system. Because
> it's all about balkanization and locking the user base.
Actually, I both agree and disagree. The "N" picture is all about
balkanization and locking in the user base, absolutely, without a doubt. But
elitism is where the "N+1" disruptive innovations come from; they may have
been created at N-1, N-2, or more --- but the elites are often the ones that
keep the faith and safe-harbor these ideas until they "magically" appear on
the scene at N+1 time, shake things up, and produce explosive value growth.
Hypertext is a good example of this, as are the ideas of GUIs and networking,
the perseverance of UNIX in the marketplace, etc. Good candidates for
currently safe-harbored ideas include the metaphor of e.g. Lifestreams for
simpler, more useful knowledge management, the generative communication
paradigm of i.e. Linda, etc.
Another way to put this: without elites, valuable ideas would often get lost
in the flurry of local hill-climbing that commercial interests have to do to
give the masses what they think they want when they want it. Without those
folks keeping the faith, the whole commercial environment -wrt- innovation
then stagnates as incremental improvements become harder and harder.
Eventually you end up like Coke and Pepsi, devoting insane amounts of
resources to valueless competitive activity; it takes a Snapple to shake the
tree. (A bad example, as it's hard to see who the Snapple elite might've
I guess what I'm saying is this: it only takes a little bit of observation
of how the technology market periodically lurches forward to see that there's
almost always a very small group of true believers behind every significant
innovation who must shelter that idea through early and unpopular /
non-commercial stages until the market is ready.